UK home secretary Alan Johnson
The UK government is to maintain restrictions on migrant workers from Romania and Bulgaria.
Annual limits imposed on unskilled workers from both countries will remain in place for two more years but could then be lifted if the economy has improved.
The British government imposed restrictions on workers from the two newest members of the EU after they joined the bloc in 2007. The steps were taken after the government had been criticised for not restricting entry criteria after the previous EU expansion in 2004.
The influx of workers from countries such as Poland following this expansion of the EU far exceeded commentators' expectations.
Immigration has proved a particularly sensitive issue in the UK with the British National Party (BNP) growing in support according to some polls and home secretary Alan Johnson admitting that the government's handling of immigration had increased pressure on public services and had been "maladroit".
Phil Woolas, the immigration minister, yesterday said the limits will remain until 2011 because "given the current labour market situation, it is important that we continue to give weight to the need to protect the interests of the resident workforce".
However, he added that any further extensions at that point would be based on "serious labour market disturbance" and a "further evidence-based review".
The decision means the annual quota of just under 25 000 low-skilled workers from the two countries remains in place.