All migrant workers coming to the UK under the new points-based system will be told that the rules allowing them to stay could change at any time.
The Home Office is to issue the warning in a bid to avoid a repeat of the embarrassment caused by bitterly opposed changes to the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP) in 2006.
Paula Higson, director of managed migration at the Home Office, told Personnel Today: “Every time you do something you learn. We have learned that [the government] needs to be much clearer up front about transitional arrangements so there are no misunderstandings.
“The key issue is to be clear that if people come into the system, we have said that the points could change in the future. Just because we have let you in does not necessarily mean that you can stay forever.”
A judicial review is this month likely to rule on the legality of the controversial HSMP changes, which effectively forced 40,000 migrant workers to reapply for their visas under tougher rules.
The Home Office has denied any wrongdoing in implementing the changes, despite criticism from the Conservative Party, London mayor Ken Livingstone and the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
“We found that people were coming to the UK with HSMP visas and were not in highly skilled work two years later, so we tightened [the system] up,” said Higson.