Immigrants from Romania and Bulgaria will be denied open door access to Britain for at least another two years, the Government said yesterday.
The two countries have been asking for the same rights of unrestricted movement as the other countries in the EU such as Poland.
But the Home Office has opted to keep in place restrictions on the right of Romanians and Bulgarians to take jobs in the UK until at least the end of 2011.
Ministers said the decision had been taken to protect British workers and the ‘national interest’. So far the restrictions have been reviewed annually.
A maximum of 21,250 agricultural workers from Romania and Bulgaria will be allowed to enter Britain each year, plus a further 3,500 people to fill food processing jobs.
When eight former Eastern Bloc countries joined the EU in 2004, they were allowed free access to the labour market. More than one million have since arrived from those countries.
As a result, Romanians and Bulgarians were told their access would be restricted when they joined the EU in 2007.
On Monday, Home Secretary Alan Johnson admitted the Government had mishandled immigration, and that it had placed a ‘strain’ on jobs and services.