Employers would be forced to give financial bonds for foreign staff on temporary work permits under new plans put forward by the Conservatives.
The proposals, announced by party leader Michael Howard yesterday, would mean employers using foreign staff on work permits would have to provide a financial guarantee equivalent to six months pay, which would be redeemed only when the employee had left the country.
Meanwhile, two categories of work permit would be introduced: permanent permits for those who want to settle and work in Britain, but subject to an Australian-style points system; and short-term work permits for up to three years, which would be strictly controlled and not used as a route to permanent settlement.
Howard said the proposals would help bring the UK’s “chaotic” immigration system under control.
“Work permits have become a major source of immigration to Britain because, once here, permit holders are often able to stay indefinitely,” he said.
“Almost four times as many work permits are issued today as were in 1997. And there are no checks to ensure that people leave when their permit expires – leaving the system wide open to abuse.”
He also attacked Labour’s proposals for a similar points system, saying it did not cap overall immigration numbers.