The Minister of State for Legal Migration and the Border, Tom Pursglove, has now announced the dates on which the recently announced new measures aimed at curbing net migration to the UK will come into force. The actions that will have the most impact are likely to be sharply increased salary requirements for visa applicants.

The Government's commitment to reduce the number of foreign citizens migrating to the UK has been marked by criticism. The new measures arising out of the five-point plan outlined by James Cleverley in December appears to focus on limiting an applicant's wider family from joining them as well as significantly raising the salary levels that such immigrants are required to earn. The initial salary levels announced in December have been slightly reduced and the new rates of pay will also now be introduced in stages.

Concerns arose regarding the rise in the numbers of migrants during the pandemic and in part due to the migrants applying to remain in the UK due to humanitarian reasons, such as those people leaving Ukraine. The Government announced the first steps to curb migration would be to prevent students switching from studying to working before their course was concluded in July 2023 and also from January 2024 students are prevented from bringing their dependants to the UK, with the exception of students studying for a post-graduate research degree.

In respect of the Shortage Occupation List the Government commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to review the List in order to consider the occupations that should be added to the Immigration Salary List on a temporary basis from April 2024, as well as adding occupations that the MAC recommended.

Kavina Munja, a lawyer in the immigration department, points out "The new rules may impact on industry sectors that are already havingdifficulties in recruiting staff due to insufficient expertise amongst UK nationals and often rely on foreign migrants to fill the gaps". Kavina further commented "Also, the higher salaries proposed may be hard to achieve for newly qualified graduates. Individuals in the process of applying for a visa now find that they will need to obtain a salary higher than they had expected."

The changes that to take place are as follows:

  • From February 2024 rules relating to senior care workers and care workers will remove the right to bring dependants to the UK. Care providers will only be able to sponsor migrant workers on the understanding that they are working within the activities that are regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to ensure that the workers are actually supporting the care system.
  • In March 2024 the migrants arriving through the skilled worker visa will be required to earn £38,700, a rise of £12,500. Those arriving through Health and Care visas will be exempted as well as those on national payscale occupations. This is to enable the NHS to meet the needs of the population.
  • The new rules will remove the 20% going rate discount applied to occupations on the Shortage Occupation List. The MAC recommended occupations will also be added to the List
  • With regard to family visas, they are to be brought in line with the new salary threshold for skilled workers (£38,700) however, this will be increased incrementally – In April the threshold will be £29,000, rising to £34,000 and then by early 2025 it will reach £38,700.

The Government aims to encourage individuals who will use their expertise to contribute to the UK whilst benefiting from the UK public services like the NHS. To that aim the Immigration Health Surcharge has been significantly raised to £1,035 since February 2024.

Giambrone & Partners immigration lawyers are concerned that individuals who are still going through the process now face unexpected changes that may make their applications impossible to complete, particularly for those whose salary expectations may not meet the new criteria.

Kavina Munja is a lawyer in the London office. She has considerable experience related to immigration applications and has a comprehensive range of knowledge and expertise. She has successfully dealt with complex immigration appeals in the jurisdiction of England and Wales. Kavina can assist clients with the preparation of applications, working closely with the authorities and ensuring that there are no errors or omissions that may impact on the success of the application.

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