Under the Aliens Order 1953 (SI 1617/1953), work permits could, on the application of potential employers, be issued to aliens between the ages of 18 and 54 if the employer was prepared to be responsible for repatriating the aliens on the instructions of the Home Secretary, to offer wages comparable with those of British nationals employed on the same work in the same area, and to show that the proposed employment was necessary and that the vacancy could not otherwise be filled. Variations were made in these criteria for some nationals, industries and individuals.
Under the Immigration Act 1971, which came into force on 1 January 1973, common criteria, excluding the requirements to repatriate and to show that the employment was necessary, were introduced for applications to employ both aliens and Commonwealth citizens. Since January 1973, nationals of countries within the European Economic Community have not required work permits.
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