LONDON, England. Immigrants who want to work in Great Britain will soon be required to have the basic knowledge of the English language, informs the Guardian newspaper. The new regulation will not apply to foreigners from the European Union.
As there is bipartisan consensus among political parties that rampant immigration must be stopped, the new law is expected to come into effect by the fall. All non-EU foreigners, including sportsmen, who intend to work in Great Britain, will have to take a special test that will check their ability to communicate in English. “It is a basic requirement that they have some command of English,” the immigration minister told the Guardian newspaper. The minister estimated that some 12,000 fewer workers would have met requirements, had the law been in place last year. Instead, almost 100,000 people from Africa, Asia, and Latin America received work permissions in 2007.
When the law takes effect, a job vacancy will have to be advertised for a minimum of two weeks before the employer would be able to give it to a foreigner. The time limit is shortened to seven days when the salary offered for the position exceeds Pounds 40,000 pounds (almost $80,000). As the immigration ministry informs, the only exception will be in case of an international transfer within one company or a shortage in the given occupation. Companies which break the rules may face heavy fines and stricter controls in the future. The immigration ministry said that the number of firms put on trial for employing illegal immigrants this year has already been larger than in all previous years combined.
The government hopes that the new regulation will reduce annual immigration by at least 20,000 people. Although most foreigners who work in Great Britain perform mediocre jobs that Britons refuse to take, a number of skilled immigrants climb the career ladder faster than their native co-workers. “Our new points system means that British job seekers get the first crack of the whip and that only skilled migrants we actually need will be able to come. By moving points up or down, we can make sure the numbers we allow into the UK are in line with the needs of business and the country as a whole,” said the immigration minister.
But not all Britons look forward to the new law. English tests may scare off many skilled sportsmen who until now have come to Great Britain in great numbers. Specifically, the country’s soccer league may be severely affected as most of clubs employ several foreigners, usually from the outside of the European Union. In Chelsea FC, a soccer team from London that is one step short of winning the league cup, English players constitute the minority. It is not rare that during a game between two top teams that not even one native player appears on the pitch for 90 minutes. Many coaches are also foreigners.
There is no need to panic, though, says the immigration ministry. Sportsmen and other professionals who come to Great Britain for short-term gigs will not have to speak a word in English to be admitted to the country. A new visa program for this group is expected to be introduced in a few months and will keep the borders open for thousands of people heading for the 2012 London Olympic Games.
The problem is not tourists or businessmen who come to Great Britain, reminds the government. Its illegal workers. “Illegal jobs are the root cause of illegal immigration, which is why I’m determined to shut it down,” said the immigration minister.