On 30 January 2024 more information on the Government’s plans to reduce legal migration was released, starting the rollout of the new immigration policies. This follows the Prime Minister and Home Secretary’s announcement in December 2023 outlining the Government’s plan to “slash migration levels and curb abuse of the immigration system”.

Designed to reduce the number of migrants by 300,000 people a year, the immigration policies will be introduced gradually and include:

  • increasing the minimum salary threshold from £26,200 to £38,700 for overseas workers, on 4 April 2024;
  • the removal of the 20% going rate discount for shortage occupation roles and reforming the Shortage Occupation List into an Immigration Salary List, on 4 April 2024;
  • restricting care workers from bringing dependants and requiring care providers to register with the care commission, on 11 March 2024;
  • increasing the minimum income requirement threshold in stages for family visas, starting at £29,000 from 11 April 2024, to rise to £38,700 by early 2025; and
  • asking the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to review the graduate route for overseas students and workers.

These are important changes which will have a significant impact on work and family-based immigration.

These changes, described as “transformative” by the Government, are likely to cause hardship for a lot of businesses and individuals alike. For example, businesses who operate in sectors such as hospitality, where it has been very difficult to recruit locally, will find it challenging to recruit the skilled workers they need to maintain or expand their operations. The acute shortages in the domestic workforce resulting from Brexit and Covid are well documented. Typically, the going rate for these roles is significantly lower than the proposed new threshold of £38,700.

Further and worryingly, these changes will be combined with an eye-watering 66% hike to the Immigration Health Surcharge as from 6 February 2024, in a double whammy, potentially leading to staff shortages and reduced productivity in several sectors. That is the nature of the immigration policies arriving this spring.

The changes will not apply to those who are already in the UK under these categories and will only affect those applying as from the above dates. For employers with projects requiring recruiting from abroad in the near future, there is still time to apply now, using the current thresholds.

If you have questions or concerns about how the new immigration policies will impact you, please contact Tsige Berhanu.

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This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. It should not be used as a substitute for legal advice relating to your particular circumstances. Please note that the law may have changed since the date of this article.