A temporary limit on the number of non-EU workers allowed into the UK has been announced by the Home Secretary. A consultation will help decide the permanent limit which will be imposed from April next year.

The move is part of a coalition government commitment to scale back net migration to the levels of the 1990s – meaning tens of thousands of people entering the country, rather than hundreds of thousands.

A consultation will help determine the details of the permanent limit. In the meantime, an interim limit will be imposed from next month.

The number of skilled people without a job offer (Tier 1 highly skilled worker visa) entering the country under the government’s points system will be held at 5,400 for an interim period. The pass mark for eligibility will rise by five points from 95 to 100.

Meanwhile, the number of migrants allowed to enter the country with a job offer (Tier 2 skilled worker visa) will be reduced by 1,300, and set at a limit of 18,700.

The Home Secrectary Theresa May said: ‘This government believes that Britain can benefit from migration but not uncontrolled migration. I recognise the importance of attracting the brightest and the best to ensure strong economic growth, but unlimited migration places unacceptable pressure on public services.

‘While we consult on our tough new limit, it’s important we have an interim measure to avoid a ‘closing down sale’ for migrants, and to ensure that the number of work visas issued stays below 2009 levels.

‘The government will also introduce measures to support British people. Alongside limits will be action to get Britain back to work and provide business with the skills they need from the resident workforce – reducing the need for migrants at the same time as we reduce their number.’

Details of the final limit will be agreed following a 12-week consultation with business which begins today.

The Home Secretary has also asked the Migration Advisory Committee, the government’s independent adviser on migration issues, to launch a separate consultation. This will take into account social and economic impacts.

This will pave the way for fundamental changes to the way in which workers from outside the EU will be chosen to come and work in the UK.