#Article (Archive)

New UK Immigration System - Positive Step in International Relations

Jun 25, 2008, 6:59 AM

A news release from the British High Commission has revealed that a new system, designed to facilitate entry into the United Kingdom, is being implemented. The system, which is points-based, is said to be organised around a multi-tier classification and is similar to the Australian model that has been highly rated for many years.

In its application, the system is based on scoring points in various areas of assessment including qualification, competence in the English language and ability to support oneself and dependents among other set criteria. The system is considered more straightforward and easier to apply than the existing one. To assess one's chances, applicants can even calculate for themselves before they apply to see whether or not they have made the grade. Of course, this method provides for a greater degree of certainty for the applicant as well as reducing the waste of money on unsuccessful applications.

According to the release, tier one of the system is for the entry of highly skilled migrant workers into the United Kingdom. This tier is suitable for candidates with the very best skills, or those who wish to do business or invest in the UK. Going by the Australian and US model, this category would include doctors, professional accountants, engineers, investors and other top-rated professionals.

Meanwhile, it seems very few Gambians might fit this category on account of the scarcity of employment abroad. Where does the new system leave Gambians in this case?

Other follow-on tiers aim to cover less skilled individuals belonging to the wider bracket of intending immigrants. These are mainly students, persons wishing to undertake temporary work or those who already have the offer of a job from a UK employer. It seems that more Gambians might be qualified for this category. However, the position is not very clear as to whether employers can effectively employ foreign workers who are not already in possession of a legal work permit. In another country which operates a similar system, the processing of applications in this category has created a catch-22 situation. Intending foreign workers are frustrated from receiving entry visas either because employers are hard pushed to satisfy all the conditions or the applicant faces barriers at his or her home embassy level. It may mean that this tier is not as straightforward or as transparent as the preferred tier one. It may be that tier one is needed while others are merely tolerated. It would be good if they clarified all the details.

In conclusion, while the new system has a "brain drain" effect on Third World countries, it still represents a positive shift in policy compared with the current system, which is less immigrant-friendly. The new system appears more welcoming and ostensibly very open and fair. It is hoped that when the new system comes into effect later this month, many Gambians will participate and will be legally able to gain from the experience of working in the UK. This is better than risking lives on the perilous seas or gaining employment through illegal means.

For the host country, it is better to offer opportunities to deserving immigrants under a well-screened and open system than applying an unaccommodating closed-door system.  

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