Currently businesses are given an annual allocation for the number of foreign workers they can bring into the country.
But under the new system, employers will have to apply to the UK Border Agency for a certificate of sponsorship for a specific post.
Read the press release.
British workers first
Immigration minister Damian Green said: ‘Britain needs to attract the brightest and the best to fill jobs gaps but this should never be at the expense of workers already here.
‘We have worked closely with businesses while designing this system, and made it clear employers should look first to people who are out of work and who are already in this country.
‘And those that do come here to work must know that we intend to make the route to settlement tougher. It can not be right that people coming to fill temporary skills gaps have open access to permanent settlement.’
The government’s new annual limit of 20,700 visas for non-EU workers will begin on 6 April.
This limit will be divided into 12 monthly allocations and any unused places will roll over to the following month.
Workers will need to have a graduate-level job, speak an intermediate level of English, and meet specific salary and employment requirements.
Employers filling a vacancy that attracts a salary of £150,000 or more will not be subject to this limit.
An additional 1,000 visas will be made available under a new exceptional talent route.