On 4 December, Home Secretary James Cleverley announced the UK Government’s new 5-step plan to significantly reduce net migration and address perceived issues within the immigration system. These changes are expected to take effect from Spring 2024.
If these new policies become law, they are likely to have a significant impact on employers, employees, and families.
- Increased Salary Thresholds for Sponsored Skilled Workers: Overseas workers will face a higher minimum salary requirement. This increase is from £26,200 to £38,700, exceeding the current median annual salary for the UK (£34,963). This will make recruitment and retention of staff more challenging and could increase costs for end users as wages rise for both British and migrant workers.
- End Salary Discount for Shortage Occupations: The Shortage Occupation List will no longer offer a 20% salary discount. A new ‘Immigration Salary List’ will replace it, likely impacting sectors’ ability to fill vacancies, particularly in construction.
- Increase Earning Requirement for British Citizens: British or settled individuals must earn at least £38,700 to sponsor a non-British or Irish partner, a substantial rise from the current £18,600. This could prevent many families from uniting.
- Review of Graduate Visa Route: The Migration Advisory Committee will reassess this visa route. The Graduate visa currently enables UK university graduates to extend their stay to work unsponsored for up to two years. Changes to this route could impact businesses that rely on it for talent acquisition.
Health & Care:
- Prevention of Dependents’ Entry for Health & Care Visa Holders: This change will notably affect care workers and nurses, where vacancies remain high.
- Exemptions and Adjustments: Health and Care visa holders will be exempt from the increased salary threshold for Skilled Worker visas. However, it’s uncertain if this will be sufficient to attract health and care workers to the UK.
- Mandate for CQC Regulation: Care providers must be regulated by the Care Quality Commission to sponsor overseas workers.
- Previously Announced Changes: Limiting of Student Visa Dependents: Students will no longer be allowed to bring family members unless they are on postgraduate research courses.
- Immigration Health Surcharge Increase: The annual charge will increase to £1,035 for adults and £776 for under 18s.
Action Points for Businesses and Individuals
This plan the UK Government marks a major shift in immigration policy, necessitating significant adjustments from both businesses and individuals. As we navigate this changing environment, it’s important to recognise that the implications of these new rules, especially for those already on UK immigration paths and early-career professionals, are not fully clear yet.
To help you prepare for these upcoming changes, we’ve outlined key action points tailored for both businesses and individuals, based on our current understanding of the proposed policies.
- Advance Recruitment Plans: Considering the Spring 2024 implementation, businesses should expedite recruitment under current rules, utilizing Certificates of Sponsorship and visa applications up to 3 months ahead of travel.
- Impact Assessments: Assess how the changes will affect your business and existing strategies.
- Communication: Inform hiring managers and business leaders about the changes for budget and strategy adjustment.
- Compliance and Planning: Update systems and processes to align with new salary thresholds and visa policies.
- Sector-Specific Adjustments: The Health and social care sector should prepare for specific exemptions.
- Understand New Requirements: Migrants must get acquainted with updated salary requirements and visa restrictions.
- Financial Planning: Prepare for higher costs, including the increased Immigration Health Surcharge and family sponsorship salary requirements.
For further discussion or support regarding these changes, please feel free to contact us. We are here to help you navigate these new immigration landscapes.