By politics.co.uk staff
Set limits on the number of people coming to Britain came into force today as the government introduced an interim measure in preparation of a full cap next year.
The formal immigration cap will be imposed from April 2011, but an interim cap is being put in place from today to prevent a surge in applications in the run-up to the its implementation.
The government will now go into consultation to decide on the precise number of the cap, a figure which critics and the business community say is bound to be arbitrary.
"This government believes that Britain can benefit from migration but not uncontrolled migration," said home secretary Theresa May.
"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."
Under the temporary cap, just 5,400 professionals will be allowed to work in Britain, along with 18,700 skilled workers.