In a recent announcement, Home Secretary James Cleverly unveiled an ambitious 5-point plan aimed at reducing legal immigration to the UK, set to take effect in the Spring of 2024. These measures, driven by the government’s commitment to control net migration and protect the interests of British workers, come as a response to the challenges posed by high levels of migration and the strain on public services.
Cleverly stated, “It is clear that net migration remains far too high. By leaving the European Union, we gained control over who can come to the UK, but far more must be done to bring those numbers down so British workers are not undercut and our public services put under less strain.”
Key Changes in the Immigration Landscape:
- Minimum Salary Hike: Skilled workers will witness a substantial increase in the minimum salary, rising from £26,200 to £38,700. This move is anticipated to impact nearly 300,000 individuals who would have qualified to enter the UK under the previous threshold.
- Family Visa Financial Threshold: The financial threshold for family visas, allowing partners to enter the UK, has skyrocketed from £18,600 to £38,700, a significant increase of £20,100.
- Healthcare Workers and Dependents: The ban on healthcare workers bringing in dependants aims to address concerns about worker exploitation and abuse within the adult social care sector. The move follows the introduction of carers as a temporary measure to fill labour shortages after the pandemic.
- Shortage Occupation List: The 20% reduction in the going rate for jobs on the shortage occupation list is set to be withdrawn.
- Graduate Visa Route Review: A comprehensive review of the graduate visa route is in progress.
- IHS Surcharge Increase: As of 16 January 2024, the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) will surge from £624 to £1,035, ensuring migrants make a fair financial contribution to public services, including the NHS.
According to Cleverly, these measures are designed to deliver the most substantial reduction in net migration, with approximately 300,000 people who came to the UK last year being impacted. He emphasised the government’s commitment to halt the drastic rise in work visa routes and crack down on those seeking to exploit the UK’s hospitality.
Workers and their dependants currently account for a significant proportion of visas issued, with Skilled Worker and Health and Care Worker visas making up 63% of work grants. The proportion of work-related visas granted to dependants has risen to 43% as of the year ending September 2023.
In addition to the immigration reforms, the government is taking steps to address concerns about non-compliance and worker exploitation within the adult social care sector, particularly for overseas workers employed in care occupations.
Changes In Student Visas:
Earlier this year, the government announced measures to cut the number of student visas issued. These include removing the right for international students to bring dependants unless they are on postgraduate research courses and preventing international students from switching to work routes before completing their studies. These changes will come into force for courses starting in January 2024.
As the UK prepares for a significant immigration overhaul, these measures are poised to impact individuals, businesses, and sectors across the board. The government’s commitment to striking a balance between controlling migration and ensuring fair contributions to public services underscores the complexity of this issue. For those affected by these changes and in need of guidance, Jarmans Solicitors stands ready to provide support and advice.
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