Immigration changes to limit net migration - 4th December 2023

Major changes to UK immigration to take effect in spring 2024

Recent announcement of UK net migration reaching over 745,000 in 2022, caused immediate reaction from UK conservative government. There were already previous changes to UK immigration rules for students and student dependents to limit net migration were announced earlier this year 2023. However, the recent announcement of the higher net migration for 2022 than previously expected, caused the government to quickly announce some new quite significant changes to immigration rules.  

In his 5 points statements, James Cleverly, the UK Home Secretary, announced major changes to immigration and said that those will be implemented in ‘spring’ next year 2024.

Changes to immigration to limit net migration - to come into force next spring 2024

Health and Care visa changes

As the 1st point, the government announced it will stop ‘abuse’ of health and care visas. According to Mr Cleverly’s 4th December 2023 statement, health and care visa holders will not be able to bring their family dependents (partners and children) to the UK. To support this change, he cited some data that only 25% of dependents are in employment and they are using the UK public services without contributing to the UK economy. This follows similar change for student dependents announced earlier this year.

Furthermore, employer sponsor organisations will need to be regulated by Care Quality Commission in order to then sponsor health care workers. This is already the case for vast majority of sponsor employers.

UK work visa minimum salary increase to £38,700

As the 2nd point, the government announced it ‘will stop the immigration undercutting the salaries of British workers.’ The current minimum salary for skilled worker visa is £26,200 which is to be increased to about £38,700 gross per year from next spring.

The good news is that those coming under the health and care visa will be exempt from the salary changes.

Shortage Occupation 20% salary discount will be removed and the list reformed

The 20% discounted salary rate for shortage occupation list jobs will be removed and the shortage occupation list will be reformed.  This announcement is in line with the Migration Advisory Committee’s recent report on shortage occupation list, as summarised in our blog on 4th October 2023.

Mr Cleverly further said that the number of shortage occupation list jobs will be reduced and the salaries increased in line with the new higher minimum salary announced.

The Home Office will work with the Migration Advisory Committee on introducing the changes to the shortage occupation list.

Those who want to bring dependents must be able to afford it

As the 4th point, Mr Cleverly announced that those who wish to bring dependents must be able to afford it. Therefore the minimum income thresholds for family visas will be increased from £18,600 to £38,700 gross per year.

This income increase will have significant negative impact on the ability of many British nationals and settled residents to bring their family members to the UK.

Graduate visa review

As the final 5th point, Mr Cleverly announced review to the graduate visa route to prevent any abuse of this visa category. We presume that any changes to the route will be announced once after the review is completed.

2 Thoughts to “Big changes to UK immigration to reduce net migration – increase to salaries, increase to minimum income family visas, limiting Shortage Occupation & dependents – take effect spring 2024”

  1. Ian Billingham

    Will the home office be tough on applications made between now and spring 24?

    What will be the amount needed in savings under the 38,609 rule?

    1. KS

      The Home Office announcement is short on details, so we have to assume the worst case scenario until the details are announced. So we have to assume that the current rules on savings apply and thus the savings for the new requirements will pass hundred thousand pounds.
      Concerning the treatment of current applications, it is difficult to predict. We can see a tendency of case workers to interpret requirements more strictly in many types of applications. It is impossible to predict the Home Office policies with any certainty.

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