Home Secretary Jacqui Smith announced yesterday she would be “raising the bar” over skills required from non-EU professionals.

The Home Secretary declared that the new policy was “responding to the current economic circumstances”. The government’s change attempts to protect ‘British jobs for British workers’ but leave employers just over a month before the regulation is enforced, from April 1st.

Employers will now be forced to advertise jobs through JobCentre Plus for at least two weeks before hiring migrant workers.

Additionally, government unveiled plans to reduce the amount of highly skilled migrants, the need for a master’s degree – and to be on a salary of £20,000 a year or more. Previously, Non-EU tier 1 applicants only required a bachelor’s degree, and only needed to be on a £17,000 salary.

The Home Office has also ordered an investigation into the impact of the arrival of families of immigrant workers.

“There are all sorts of questions that we might want to ask here: their access to the labour market; the extent to which they, as well as the people that they are coming with, need to demonstrate the contribution that they are going to make to the UK economy,” Jacqui Smith said.

On the shortage of skills in the UK, Jacqui Smith also said: “I am proposing that we should more clearly link those areas where there are shortages of skills in this country with actually trying to grow the skills within British workers.”

The Home Office estimates that it will reduce the number of skilled migrant workers securing a visa from 26,000 to 14,000.