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Drastic changes proposed to UK immigration regime

5th Dec 2023 | Business Immigration | Employment
Close up of a UK passport stamp stating Immigration Office

The Government has recently announced (4 December 2023) a plan to substantially reduce migration levels, proposing some drastic new measures which will impact employers.  

These measures are due to come into force in Spring 2024. Some of the proposals are:

  1. Increasing the minimum salary for skilled workers from £26,200 to £38,700 – an increase of almost 50%. We understand this will exclude workers on the Health and Care visa route who will be exempt from the increase to skilled workers, and those on national pay scales, including teachers.
  2. Increasing the minimum salary requirements for family members wishing to join skilled workers in the UK, from £18,600 to £38,700.
  3. Preventing overseas care workers and, in some circumstances, international students from bringing their dependants to the UK.
  4. Only allowing care providers to sponsor migrant workers if they are undertaking activities regulated by the Care Quality Commission.
  5. Removing the shortage occupation list, and ending the 20% “going rate” salary discount for shortage occupations, replacing the shortage occupation list with a new “Immigration Salary List”.  The Immigration Salary List will retain a general threshold discount, although the number of occupations on the list will be reduced after this is reviewed by the Migration Advisory Committee.
  6. A review of the graduate visa to ensure it “works” and that steps are taken to prevent abuse.
  7. Increasing the annual Immigration Health Surcharge from £624 to £1,035;

The Home Secretary has commented that net migration remains “far too high” and that “more must be done to bring down those numbers [of immigrants to the UK] so British workers are not undercut and our public services put under less strain.”  

Instead, the emphasis will be on encouraging organisations to recruit British talent first and working with those “economically inactive” within the UK population to support them return to work. This includes plans to help people with long-term health conditions, disabilities or those who have been unemployed, to look for and return to work. 

The Home Secretary estimates that these drastic proposals will reduce migration by circa 300,000 people each year.  

Clearly, these proposals will have a huge impact on employers and those who currently or propose to sponsor skilled workers or engage foreign workers.

If you are affected by these proposals or have any queries at this stage, please do get in touch with Amy Sergison on 0191 211 7995 or email [email protected].

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