Britain will give priority to the "brightest and the best" immigrants under new plans to cut the number of foreigners settling in the UK, the Immigration Minister has said.
Damian Green is this week expected to outline the principles behind the Government's new "selective" immigration policy that will give preferential treatment to investors, entrepreneurs and world-class artists, dancers, musicians and academics.
Under the planned reforms "fewer but better" immigrants will be allowed to settle in the UK, with those who lack the skills to "help drive economic growth" or contribute to UK culture facing greater scrutiny.
Mr Green told The Sunday Times: "What we need is a system that...goes out to seek those people who are either going to create jobs or wealth or add to the high-level artistic and cultural aspirations we have.
"Getting the number down is the absolute key but what I am aiming at is fewer and better."
The Conservative MP said those wishing to live in Britain will have to show "genuine serious usefulness to British society" and prove they are not totally dependent on benefits.
He added: "We want permanently to make Britain the most attractive country in the world for the brightest and the best. The era of mass immigration is over."
According to Mr Green, the UK turned down 385,000 visas last year, detected 27,000 forged documents and is currently stopping 1,000 people getting on a UK-bound plane each month.