Reforms to ensure 'right' migrants come to UK
AFP, Thursday 2 Feb 2012
UK's immigration ministry seeks to ensure that would-be immigrants 'add to quality of life in Britain'

British Immigration Minister Damien Green stated on Wednesday that Prime Minister David Cameron's coalition was making progress towards its goal of cutting net migration numbers from hundreds of thousands to tens of thousands by the next election in 2015.

But reforms introduced since it took office in May 2010 were also intended to be more selective, to let in highly skilled workers and those who would integrate into British society, he said.

"We need to know not just that the right numbers of people are coming here, but that the right people are coming here. People who will benefit Britain, not just those who will benefit from Britain," Green said in a speech in London.

He added: "Britain does not need more migrant middle managers, any more than it needs unskilled labour.

"We need top-of-the-range professionals, senior executives, technical specialists, entrepreneurs and exceptional artistic and scientific talent."

Immigration is a sensitive topic in Britain, following a surge in the last decade, regularly featuring high in opinion polls of voter concerns.

EU workers are free to come and go as they please, but the coalition has slashed the number of work visas issued to non-Europeans by a fifth and clamped down on student and marriage visas.

High earners are excluded, however, while priority is given to those workers whose skills are in short supply in Britain.

Green said the government wanted to create a "contribution-based system," adding: "Whether you come here to work, study or get married, we as a country are entitled to check that you will add to the quality of life in Britain."

The government's reforms have prompted criticism that the British economy will suffer from a lack of talent, as the brightest academics, scientists and artists will be turned away.