Thursday, November 27, 2008

British government announces simplified visa system for skilled migrants

MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Nov. 27, 2008) - The British government has been delivering the biggest changes in its immigration system in 45 years with a stronger border that maximises the use of new technology, a selective points system to control migration and the issuance of identity cards to foreign nationals.

This week the British government announced the implementation of the Points Based System (PBS) for skilled migrants, a simplified but more secure method for workers to apply for their UK visa.

Under PBS, skilled foreign nationals applying for UK visa will earn points for objective criteria such as qualifications, previous earnings, age, English language skills and UK experience.

The applicants will need to show a firm job offer in the form of a Certificate of Sponsorship from a British company licensed by the UK Border Agency. However, applicants whose occupations fall under the shortage occupation list may be granted UK visas without reference to their prospective earnings or qualifications.

The shortage occupation lists released by the United Kingdom and Scotland identifies jobs for which there are not enough resident workers. Jobs under this list include senior care workers, civil engineers, chemical engineers and aircraft engineers.

The British government has also launched a new Business Visitor visa which clarifies the activities that are permitted during business visits to the UK.

This allows visitors to stay for up to six months to attend meetings, arrange deals, undertake fact-finding mission, conduct site visits and undertake promotional activities. A Special Visitor visa covers those travelling temporarily to the UK for certain engagements.

This is issued specifically to sportspeople, entertainers and charity workers. It also includes visitors who are seeking extension of leave for medical treatment.

In line with these new procedures, foreign nationals will be issued identity cards containing their facial image and fingerprints to help businesses crack down on illegal workers. All new foreign nationals and those extending their stay will have a card within three years and it is estimated that by the end of 2015 about 90% of all foreign nationals will be issued an identity card. (Oya Arriola)

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