Home Secretary James Cleverly has revealed the government’s plans to reduce legal net migration, including major changes to skilled worker visa salary thresholds and a curb on migrant workers bringing their dependants to the UK.
Some of the significant changes coming in 2024 include:
The minimum salary threshold for Skilled Worker visas will increase by more than a third, rising from £26,200 to £38,700. For context, the current median average salary of a full-time UK worker is £34,963.
The minimum income thresholds for family visas will also increase to £38,700 as the government looks to curb the increase in family-related visas. Over 75,000 were granted in the year to June 2023.
While Health and Care visas will be exempt from the minimum salary increase, a move designed to meet NHS staffing needs, applicants will no longer be able to bring their dependants to the UK.
Similarly, from 2024 international students will not be able to bring dependants to the UK, unless they are on post-graduate courses that are designated as essential research.
The Shortage Occupation List will not continue in its current format. The Migration Advisory Committee has been asked to review the existing setup, with a view to reducing the number of occupations on the list and removing the 20% going rate salary discount entirely.
The Immigration Health Surcharge, which allows migrant workers to access NHS services will rise by 66% to £1,035 per year. The Home Secretary expects the increase will raise over £1 billion per year for the NHS.
What this means for employers?
The Home Secretary’s proposed changes will mean that 300,000 people who were previously eligible to work in the UK would now not be.
Employers looking to obtain a Sponsor Licence and those who routinely recruit migrant workers should immediately consider the impact of these changes on ongoing or future recruitment plans. As the changes will not be implemented until the early part of 2024, businesses may wish to fast-track applications before the end of the year.