UNITED KINGDOM – New immigration controls unveiled

December 7, 2023

The UK Home Secretary this week announced sweeping measures aimed at reducing net migration. Stricter immigration controls will be introduced in Spring 2024 that will significantly impact a number of UK employment visa categories. Furthermore, a review of routes available to those studying in the UK will also likely result in additional changes. Key changes announced this week include:

Skilled Worker

  • The minimum salary required for a skilled worker visa in the UK is set to increase from £26,200 to £38,700. This is a rise of £12,500 to the per annum salary rate.

Shortage Occupation List

  • Reforms to the Shortage Occupation List are expected to result in a number of occupations removed. 
  • An end to the current 20% reduction applied to minimum salary rates for roles considered a shortage occupation and will replace the existing Shortage Occupation List with a new ‘Immigration Salary List’ which will include a general threshold discount.

Health Care and Care Worker Visas

  • Care workers will no longer have the option to bring their dependants to the UK. 
  • Care firms seeking to sponsor visa applications must be regulated by the Care Quality Commission. 
  • Healthcare and care workers applying for visas will be exempt from the higher salary threshold requirement. This means that care workers will still be able to apply for a Skilled Worker visa even if their salary is below £38,700. 

Family Visas for people settling or settled in the UK

  • The minimum salary required to apply for a visa for a family member accompanying or joining a person settling or settled in the UK, will be set at £38,700. The current minimum threshold of £18,600 to bring a family member to the UK will be increased substantively to ensure individuals only bring dependants they can support financially. 

Student Visas

  • The Graduate route—which allows those who have studied at degree level or above in the to remain and seek employment—will be reviewed to identify and eliminate potential abuse. Further announcements are expected regarding any resulting changes to the Graduate Visa category on conclusion of this review. 
  • The Home Secretary also reiterated restrictions implemented by the Statement of Changes in July 2023, that now prohibits international students from bringing dependants to the UK. For more information regarding the changes on the Student visa route please read. 

Immigration Health Surcharge

  • No further changes were announced to the pre-existing planned increase to the Immigration Health Surcharge. Effective January 16th, 2024, adult applicants will see a rise from £624 to £1,035.  The surcharge for Dependent Children under the age of 18, Students, and Youth Mobility applicants will increase from the current £470 to £776. For more information, please click here. 

Immigration Insights 

This ‘5 point plan’ introduced by the Home Office is scheduled to roll out in Spring 2024. As with previous large-scale changes to the immigration system we anticipate these will take effect from early April.

To discuss the specific impact to you and/or your organisation resulting from these proposed changes, please do not hesitate to contact your Newland Chase Account Manager. Alternatively, please contact Newland Chase on [email protected] to speak with an OISC qualified UK Immigration Consultant. 

This immigration update is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for legal or scenario-specific advice. Furthermore, it is important to note that immigration announcements are subject to sudden and unexpected changes. Readers are encouraged to reach out to Newland Chase for any case- or company-specific assessments.