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5 December 2023

The Government has announced new visa changes to reduce net migration

Immigration is a hotly debated topic in the UK at the moment. After a record year for migration numbers, the Government is making changes to the rules.
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
Visa and immigration rule changes by the Government. The Skilled Worker Visa, Health and Care Worker Visa, Graduate Visa and Family Visa received changes

Throughout the year, the ruling Conservative Party have discussed their aims to reduce net migration through immigration rule changes. Earlier in the year, they announced plans to increase the Immigration Health Surcharge from £624 to £1,035. 

Following James Cleverly’s appointment as the new Home Secretary, the Home Office is now introducing new measures to curb net migration after a record-breaking year that saw 745,000 migrants arrive in 2022. These changes will be implemented in the spring of 2024.

The Government has claimed that the changes will reduce the amount of people trying to get to the UK by 300,000 in the coming year. Continue reading to learn what the changes are. 

Skilled Worker Visa immigration rule changes

The Skilled Worker Visa is the most popular route of entry for migrants into the UK. Because of this, the Government is modifying the application requirements for it. The changes will be introduced on 4 April 2024.

Anyone applying for the Skilled Worker Visa will need to be sponsored for a job that will earn them £38,700. This is a large increase from the previous amount, which is £26,200. This new threshold will prevent many new overseas workers from entering the UK. 

Health and Care Visa changes

As it is also a popular visa, the Health and Care Worker Visa has also received updates. Anyone coming to the UK on this visa, will now no longer be able to bring their dependants with them. They will instead have to leave their families behind in their home country, which is likely to discourage many people from applying.  

Furthermore, care providers will only be able to sponsor overseas healthcare workers if the job is regulated by the Care Quality Commission. This may make it harder for organisations to bring workers from abroad. 

These changes will come into effect from 11 March 2024.

Family Visa updates

The Government also plans to make changes to the requirements of Family Visas. They have announced that British citizens, or those with settled status, will need to prove that they earn £29,000 a year to be able to bring their dependants to the UK. This will be implemented on 11 April 2024.

Originally, they were going to make it so that British citizens or those with settled status would need to be earning £38,700 a year to bring their dependants to the UK.  

Due to the negative response the original plan received, the Government has modified its original plans.

However, the salary requirement of £38,700 a year will still be getting introduced, just at a later point. The Government is going to increase the requirement in stages. 

Shortage Occupation List reforms

There will no longer be a 20% discount applied to the minimum salary requirements of those applying for jobs that have a shortage. 

Additionally, the Shortage Occupation List will be replaced by a new list, called the ‘Immigration Salary List’. The Government will look at the jobs on this new list, and see which ones can be removed.

However, the new list will have an as of yet unspecified salary threshold discount. We will provide further updates when this new threshold is announced.

Potential Graduate Visa updates

Earlier in 2023, the Student Visa was changed, so that people coming to study in the UK could no longer bring dependants. Now, the Graduate Visa may also receive updates. 

The Home Office has asked the Migration Advisory Committee to review the Graduate Visa to make sure that it ‘works in the best interest of the UK’. The review will also ensure that this visa route is not being abused.

We will provide updates on any Graduate Visa changes as and when they are announced. 

How we can help

Although these changes will likely put off many people who want to come to the UK, there are still a few months until they are introduced. 

If you want to apply for a UK visa, such as a Skilled Worker Visa or a Health and Care Worker Visa, then we can help. Our expert legal team will assist you through every step of your application.

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