Companies should be forced to pay an annual charge of £1,000 for every skilled worker they employ from outside Europe, migration advisers have told the Government.
Ministers were also urged to raise the minimum salary threshold by almost £10,000 to £30,000 for non-EU migrants coming to Britain for work.
The proposals were made in a report by the authoritative Migration Advisory Committee (MAC).
It was asked by the Government to investigate possible changes to Tier 2 visa requirements for skilled employees from outside the European Economic Area to address concerns about the rising number of migrants in the route and the reliance on them to fill shortages in the labour market.
Under Tier 2, skilled workers must currently have a job with an annual salary of at least £20,800, while there are also higher thresholds specific to individual roles.
When applicants' family members are included, experts say the route effectively accounts for an in-flow of 151,000 people to Britain a year.
Raising the salary thresholds would mean 27,600 fewer individuals would come to the country via Tier 2, or around 18% of the current total, the MAC estimated, which added that this would be higher if a levy was imposed on employers.
The committee "strongly" supports the introduction of an Immigration Skills Charge to incentivise employers to reduce their reliance on migrant workers and encourage them to invest in training British workers.
It suggested an upfront levy of £1,000 per year for each Tier 2 migrant employed by firms in the UK, arguing this could provide £250 million for skills funding each year and have an impact on "employer behaviour".
Professor Sir David Metcalf, chairman of the MAC, said: "Skilled migrant workers make important contributions to boosting productivity and public finances, but this should be balanced against their potential impact on the welfare of existing UK residents.
"Raising the cost of employing skilled migrants via higher pay thresholds, and the introduction of an Immigration Skills Charge, should lead to greater investment in UK employees and reduce the use of migrant labour."