uk home office latest immigration news

UK Home Office Updates and FAQs

On February 05, 2024 | In General | By Yash Dubal Last Updated : February 05, 2024

Introduction

On 4th December, the new UK Home Secretary, James Cleverly, announced measures to bring down the overall level of net migration. 

Most of these are due to come into force in April 2024 and came in the wake of the publishing of the UK’s migration statistics for the year ending 2023, which showed the highest-ever net migration figure of 672,000.

With an election expected at the end of 2024, the government is extremely keen to demonstrate that it has immigration under control. As the Secretary of State explained in his announcement:

“Migration to this country is far too high and needs to come down. Today, we are taking more robust action than any Government have before in order to bring it down. Since my first day in the Home Office just three weeks ago, I have been determined to crack down on those who try to jump the queue and exploit our immigration system. I have been working closely with my right hon. Friend the Immigration Minister on this subject. The recent figures from the Office for National Statistics show a provisional estimate of net migration for the year ending June 2023 of 672,000. While that is lower than the ONS estimate for net migration for the year ending December 2022, it is still far too high”.

It should be noted that in these turbulent political times, with a General Election on the horizon, this plan may be amended by the Home Secretary – consistency has not been a theme of this Government.

However, this blog will cover the main parts of the government’s current plan and explain how they will affect you as a migrant to the UK.

Increase in the Minimum Salary Threshold

  • The most significant measure being introduced is the increase in the minimum salary threshold for Skilled Workers from £26,200 to £38,700, which will happen on 4th April
  • There had been talks of raising the minimum salary threshold for several months, but the rise to £38,700 was a surprise to most.
  • It should be noted that those who will be sponsored as Health and Social Care workers will be exempt from this rise. Most Education workers will also be exempt from national pay-scale occupations.
  • This increase of almost 50% will make it much harder for many small businesses to sponsor overseas staff as they simply will not be able to afford the required wages, especially when combined with the already announced increase to the Immigration Health Surcharge.

Ending the Shortage Occupation List

  • Mr Cleverly also announced the end of the Shortage Occupation List, which is likely to happen on 4th April, although this date is not confirmed. 
  • Currently, certain occupations are classified as ‘Shortage Occupation’, which recognises the UK’s specific need for such high demand roles.
  • Normally, a sponsor must pay their foreign workers whatever is the highest of the ‘going rate’ (as determined by the Home Office), the minimum annual salary threshold or £10.75 per hour. 
  • Where a job falls under the ‘shortage occupation list’ the employers can pay their sponsored workers as little as 80% of the ‘going rate’ for that occupation, as long as it meets the minimum annueal salary threshold and hourly wage.
  • Removing this  salary discount will make it more expensive for sponsors to employ foreign staff.
  • The Shortage Occupation List is being replaced by the Immigration Salary List – please check regularly for updates on what this will entail.

Changes to the Care Industry

  • Care workers, although exempt from the increase to the minimum salary threshold,  will no longer be able to bring their dependants over to the UK from 11th March.
  • Whilst care workers themselves will still be able to come to the UK, it may dissuade many from moving as they will now have to live apart from their loved ones.
  • Another change to the care industry is that care homes must now be registered with the Care Quality Commission in order to become a Sponsor, which can be a lengthy process.

Increase in Minimum Income Requirement for Family Visas

  • In addition to cutting the number of work visas being granted, the Government has also announced that on 11th April they will raise the minimum income requirement to £29,000 for those who wish to bring their foreign spouses to the UK.
  • This is a large increase from the current £18,600 level.
  • The government originally stated that the minimum income requirement would be raised to £38,700, but this was met with a great deal of opposition and the Government amended their plan so that it would only be raised to £29,000, initially.
  • They have announced that later in 2024 the minimum income will be raised from £29,000 to £34,500, and in early 2025 it will be raised to £38,700. 

MAC Review of Graduate Route

  • The Government’s has scheduled a planned review of the Graduate route by the Migration Advisory Committee, expected to be delivered by late 2024.
  • The Government has announced that the review will end ‘abuse’ of this visa, but it is speculated that they will cancel the visa altogether, although this is not confirmed.
  • The Graduate route allows those who have successfully completed an academic course in the UK to get a two-year post-study visa (3 years for PHD candidates).

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Will the higher minimum salary threshold apply to those already on the Skilled Worker visa? – No, those already here as Skilled Workers will not be subject to the new salary threshold when they change employment, extend their visa or make a settlement application. 
  • Will spouse visa extensions be subject to the new threshold? – No, it will only apply to first-time applicants.
  • Can I combine my and my partner’s incomes to meet the minimum salary threshold? – Only the sponsor’s income will count for entry clearance applications, but for extensions and settlement applications, both incomes can be counted.
  • Will there be changes to the amount of savings needed as an alternative to income? – Under the current rules, the amount of savings should automatically rise to match the increase in the minimum income requirement, so when the income level rises to £29,000 the savings will from £62,500 to £88,500. There has not been an announcement to confirm this so please keep checking for further updates.

Conclusion

The government’s overriding agenda is to change the immigration rules to bring down the levels of net migration. There are also certainly more updates to come, so please keep following us on all of our social media to keep abreast of changes that might affect you or your business/family. 

A Y & J Solicitors is a specialist immigration law firm with extensive experience with all types of visa applications. We have an in-depth understanding of immigration law and are professional and results-focused. For assistance with your visa application or any other UK immigration law concerns, please contact us on +44 20 7404 7933 or contact us today. We’re here to help!

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Yash Dubal, Founder & Director of A Y & J Solicitors, is a renowned lawyer and entrepreneur. Known for innovative immigration law webinars, he's propelled the firm to award-winning heights. His work champions equality and accessibility, aiding UK immigrants. Yash also dedicates himself to social causes, participating in marathons for charities like the British Red Cross and Pratham. His dedication to immigrant success is unwavering.

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