Further reforms to the Government's work permit system have been made, paving the way for tens of thousands of qualified non-European Union workers to come to Britain in an effort to ease skills shortages in high demand areas such as IT.
The changes, which were announced by employment minister, Margaret Hodge on the Department for Education and Employment's website, are expected to speed up the processing of applications for up to 100,000 foreign workers this financial year.
"We want to run an efficient work permit system which meets the needs of British business in the global economy, yet protects the opportunities in the domestic market," claimed Hodge. "These changes will ensure employers can quickly and easily transfer staff from abroad, and recruit talented graduates and others with key skills."
Under the new rules, a non-EU national will be able to secure a work permit as soon as they graduate, rather than having to wait until they have two years' postgraduate work experience. Permit holders wishing to take on additional part-time employment will be able to do so without obtaining further permission, while the maximum permit period will be increased from four years to five, from November 1.
In addition, the Government is testing a pilot scheme that allows multi-national companies to issue their own permits for existing employees who are transferring from the company abroad. Participants in this scheme include UBS, Rolls Royce, Ernst and Young, and Sony UK.