Nearly 5,000 UK employers have registered as sponsors for migrant workers, government statistics show.
The UK Border Agency announced that 4,875 businesses had registered for the new Australian-style points-based system, which requires skilled and temporary workers – tiers 2 and 5 – to have a job offer before they apply for a visa.
The system contains tough criteria that forces employers to prove a resident worker doesn’t want the job before offering it to a foreign worker.
Border and immigration minister Phil Woolas said the figures showed the implementation of the new immigration system was on track.
“The points system is one of the most radical changes we’ve made to the immigration system in a generation and today’s figures show that is being delivered successfully,” he said.
“It is crucial that only those foreign workers we need come here and this new system will ensure that - we already know that there would have been a 12% reduction in the numbers coming here through the equivalent work permit had the system been in place last year.”
The full list of employer sponsors is available here.
Last month, campaigners for skilled migrants were granted the go ahead to challenge changes to their visas.