On 4 December, the government announced five new measures to reduce net migration to the UK, taking effect in spring 2024:
- The minimum salary threshold for Skilled Worker visas (Health and Care visas will be exempt) will be increased from £26,200 to £38,700 a year (or the going rate for the role, if higher).
- The 20% salary discount for roles on the Shortage Occupation List will be scrapped and a smaller list of shortage roles on an "immigration salary list" will be introduced which will retain a general threshold discount.
- Care workers will no longer be able to bring dependants to the UK and care firms in England will need to be regulated by the Care Quality Commission to sponsor visas.
- The minimum income threshold for family visas (for example as the spouse or partner of a British or settled person in the UK) will increase from £18,600 to £38,700 a year.
- The MAC will be instructed to conduct a review of the Graduate route to ensure it "works in the best interests of the UK" and is not being abused.
The government also reaffirmed previously announced measures, including:
- Students will lose the right to bring dependants to the UK from January 2024 unless they are on post-graduate courses that are designated as essential research; and
- The Immigration Health Surcharge will increase from £624 to £1,035 per year from January 2024.
Howes Percival View
The UK government's immigration plan reflects a significant shift in policy with measures aimed at reducing net migration. The increase in salary thresholds, elimination of discounts for shortage roles, and restrictions on dependants signal a tightening of criteria.
Employers are encouraged to take proactive measures to understand and navigate these changes effectively.
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