On 21 December 2023, the Home Office issued a revised plan in relation to the salary threshold for family visas, superseding corresponding sections of the below announcement. Read our summary here for the latest on the new threshold for family applications.
The UK government has announced a new 5-point immigration plan, with the aim of reducing net migration.
The headline changes include increasing the minimum salaries that skilled foreign national workers and family visa sponsors must earn, and significantly lowering the number of dependants permitted to come to the UK.
The Home Office states the new rules will result in around 300,000 fewer people coming to the UK per year compared to 2022.
The changes, which are expected to take effect in Spring 2024, are as follows:
Health & care worker visa restrictions
The Government will be preventing overseas care workers applying for a Health and Care Worker visa from bringing their dependants with them to the UK. This includes parents and dependant children.
In addition, care providers in England will now only be able to sponsor migrant workers if they are undertaking activities regulated by the Care Quality Commission.
Increase in minimum salary threshold for sponsored workers
The skilled worker visa minimum salary threshold will increase from £26,200 to £38,700.
Health and care visa workers will be exempt from the higher salary threshold.
Increase in minimum salary threshold for sponsors of family visas
The minimum income required for British citizens and those settled in the UK to sponsor family members to join them is also increasing, from £18,600 to £38,700. Please see latest update with revised threshold proposals.
Immigration Salary List to replace Shortage Occupation List
The Shortage Occupation List will be replaced with a new Immigration Salary List. The new list will retain a general threshold discount, but will not feature the 20% going rate salary discount for shortage occupations.
Given the new higher, skilled worker salary threshold, the Government has commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee to review the roles currently on the list with a view to reducing the number of shortage occupations.
Graduate route reform
The Graduate route is also to be revised to bring the rules on dependants in line with student visa holders.
Impact on existing visa holders
According to press reports, No 10 has confirmed that the new rules are “not retrospective” but “would apply to renewals in the future”. As such, all new applications for affected routes, such as the skilled worker visa and family-sponsored visas – including renewals and extensions – will need to meet the new requirements from the Spring.
This will naturally be a cause for concern for those already in the UK with limited leave to remain and who do not meet the new requirements, such as the higher minimum salary threshold for family visas.
Restricting the appeal of the UK as a destination for overseas workers and raising the eligibility thresholds will result in a smaller recruitment pool. For employers, the new rules come at a time when international recruitment remains an operational lifeline due to persistent, high levels of vacancies – particularly in sectors such as health & social care.
As such, the changes are set to directly impact UK employers of foreign workers and will merit a review of your organisation’s international recruitment policies, procedures and plans to account for the new rules.
To discuss how your organisation and sponsored workers may be affected, and for more information about what the 5-point plan means for your organisation’s overseas recruitment programme and visa sponsorship, contact our immigration advisers.
Last updated: 21 December 2023