The new Points-Based System is just one part of the biggest shake up to immigration and border security in 45 years, along with fingerprint visas for anyone wanting to come to the UK and compulsory ID cards for foreign nationals.
UK Border Agency Chief Executive Lin Homer said:
"The Points-Based System is one of the biggest shake-ups to the immigration system in a generation ensuring only those with the skills we need will be able to work or study here and no more.
"Our message to businesses is loud and clear - if you want to employ foreign workers from outside the EEA, you need to apply now for a sponsor licence. Business benefits from migrant labour but must join us in helping crack down on illegal working and ensure a system which is both firm and fair."
Earlier this year the Home Office unveiled the criteria which businesses will have to meet to become a sponsor under the Points-Based System. These are that:
Any business must register with the Agency as a sponsor before they can bring foreign workers from outside the EEA into the UK to work; and as a condition of keeping their licence, sponsors will need to alert us if migrants do not comply with their immigration conditions - for example if they disappear or do not turn up for their job or course. Any sponsor that does not comply with this requirement will risk losing its licence.
UK Border Agency Minister Liam Byrne said:
"The introduction of the Points Based System is good for those wanting to work in Britain and good for the UK economy.
"We are clear that we will not tolerate any abuse of our systems. That is why we have introduced fingerprint technology to check all visa applicants, a new force to police our borders and new rules that ban anyone using false documents or deception from the UK for up to ten years."
The schemes listed below closed on 29 June 2008. It is no longer possible to make an application under these categories. If you currently have permission to stay in the United Kingdom under one of these categories and want to extend your stay you will need to apply under one of the new categories.
If you have been in the United Kingdom for five years or more under one of these categories you may be able to apply for permanent residence (settlement) in the United Kingdom. You should read the pages relating to your current immigration category for more information.