The Home Secretary, James Cleverly, has announced measures to reduce net migration that will take effect from Spring 2024. These include the following:
- The minimum salary threshold for Skilled Worker Visas will rise from £26,200 to £38,700. There are certain exceptions to this (such as health and care workers and those whose salary is set using nationally agreed pay-scales i.e. teachers).
- The current 20% salary discount to the minimum threshold for certain occupations will be scrapped and replaced with a new list and discount. The occupations and discount applicable have not yet been announced.
- Care workers will no longer be able to bring dependants with them under a Health and Care Worker visa. Also, in order to be eligible for a Health and Care Worker visa, the firm sponsoring an applicant will need to be regulated by the Care Quality Commission.
- The minimum salary threshold for British citizens (or those who are settled in the UK) who want to bring a family member to the UK on a Family Visa will increase from £18,600 to £38,700 to match the new Skilled Worker Visa threshold.
In addition to the above, the Migration Advisory Committee will conduct a review of the Graduate Visa route to ensure it “works in the best interests of the UK”. The Health Secretary also reconfirmed measures that had previously been announced, including students losing the right to bring dependants to the UK from 2024 except in certain circumstances, and the annual Immigration Health Surcharge increasing from £624 to £1,035.
The Government have stated that these measures would mean that around 300,000 people who migrated to the UK last year would now not be able to come to the UK.
Unfortunately, the Government have not announced the full details of their plans and it is unclear what the position will be for those who want to renew their existing visa. The Government may look to implement the higher threshold, stick with the previous threshold, or implement transitional measures. These measures will undoubtedly have far-reaching consequences for recruitment in many sectors in what is already an uncertain job market.