The Road Ahead: Understanding the Home Secretary's Immigration Policy Shifts in 2024

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09 January, 2024

Mohammad Chaudhry

The Home Secretary has announced major changes to the UK visa system, scheduled to take effect in Spring 2024. These modifications, combined with the recent increases to visa fees and the immigration health surcharge, shall make it more difficult for workers coming to the UK. As per the statement made by the Home Secretary, it will mean "around 300,000 fewer people will come in future years than have come to the UK last year."

New Minimum Salary for Skilled Workers:

Controversially, the minimum salary for foreign skilled workers will be raised by nearly 50%, from £26,200 to £38,700. It is crucial to note that those on the Health and Care Visa route will be exempt from this adjustment and may still qualify with a lower salary. The new threshold puts those in less skilled occupations at a significant disadvantage, raising concerns about potential labour shortages. Industries where the typical "going rate" for salaries is lower than £38,700 will face hurdles in recruitment as they are now unable to sponsor overseas workers.

Financial Barriers on Spouse Visas:

Furthermore, the minimum income requirement for spouse or family visas will experience a notable escalation from £18,600 to £29,000. This was said to "ensure that people only bring dependants whom they can support financially." This adjustment is anticipated to have a huge impact on couples looking to move to the UK, disproportionately impacting younger people and the working class.

Ban on Dependant for Care Workers:

Health and Care workers will be precluded from bringing dependants to the UK. In his statement, the Home Secretary stated that approximately 120,000 dependants accompanied 100,000 care workers and senior care workers in the year ending September 2023. He went on to say that only 25% of these dependants are estimated to be in the workforce, prompting concerns about the strain on public services. This restriction is likely to discourage individuals from considering employment in the UKs Social Care sector. It has sparked worries about the challenges care homes may face in recruiting, as the already understaffed sector frequently depends on the contributions of overseas workers.

Shortage Occupation List Reform:

The Shortage Occupation List will be reformed, with the elimination of the current 20% salary discount for shortage occupations. This change will mean fewer employees will benefit from the cost-savings associated with the shortage occupation list for skilled worker visa applications.

Students and Graduate Visas:

The regulations governing students bringing family members to the UK will undergo tightening, accompanied by a comprehensive review of the graduate visa route by the Migration Advisory Committee

Further details will be revealed when the government publishes the amended Immigration Rules and Policy Guidance. In the meantime, it would be advisable to complete applications before the threshold increases this spring.

For more information contact Mohammad Chaudhry in our Business Immigration department via email or phone on 01772220225. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

Learn more about our Business Immigration department here

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