David Metcalf has been appointed as chair of the new Migration Advisory Committee (MAC).
The MAC will provide evidence to ministers about where the economy needs migration and where it does not.
The committee will influence how many points a migrant needs to come Britain when the points-based entry system is introduced in the New Year.
Metcalf, professor of industrial relations at the London School of Economics, will take up his post immediately.
He has worked extensively on the economic impact of unions and on pay systems and structures. He was also a member of the Low Pay Commission, the body which advises the government on the National Minimum Wage.
Immigration minister Liam Byrne said: “The MAC gives government and the public independent advice on where we need migration and where we don’t. I’m delighted that Professor Metcalf, whose experience and skills make him ideal for this position, has been appointed as its chair.”