In a significant move to reshape the landscape of immigration in the United Kingdom, Home Secretary James Cleverly unveiled a comprehensive five-point plan during today’s announcement. Set to take effect in Spring 2024, the plan aims to deliver the most substantial reduction in net migration on record, impacting various aspects of the immigration system. This article provides a detailed overview of the announced updates, shedding light on their implications and the public’s response.
The Five-Point Plan: A Summary
1. Salary Threshold Adjustments
a. Skilled Workers
One of the major changes includes a considerable increase in the minimum salary for foreign skilled workers, rising from £26,200 to £38,700. However, it’s important to note that this adjustment will not apply to the health and care sector.
b. Spouse or Family Visa
The minimum income requirement for obtaining a spouse or family visa will also witness a significant surge, jumping from £18,600 to £38,700. This substantial increase has sparked widespread surprise and dismay across the public.
2. Care Workers Restrictions
Care workers will face stringent limitations, with the prohibition of bringing any dependants to the UK. Additionally, care firms will now be mandated to register with the Care Quality Commission to be eligible to sponsor work visas.
3. Shortage Occupation List Reforms
The Shortage Occupation List undergoes a revamp, with the removal of the current 20% salary discount for shortage occupations. In its place, a new Immigration Salary List will be introduced, maintaining a general threshold discount.
4. Student Visa Changes
The rules governing students bringing family members to the UK will be tightened. A full review of the graduate visa route will be conducted by the Migration Advisory Committee.
5. Health and Care Visa Modifications
The Health and Care visa will be tightened to prevent overseas care workers from bringing dependents to the UK. Care providers in England can now sponsor migrant workers only if they are engaged in activities regulated by the Care Quality Commission.
Public and Expert Reactions
The announcement, particularly the substantial increase in the minimum income requirement for spouse or family visas, has triggered strong reactions. Katie Newbury of Kingsley Napley solicitors expressed concern about British citizens needing to earn £38,700 to bring their partners to the UK. Reunite Families UK termed the increase “beyond devastating,” and political journalist Ian Dunt characterised it as “an assault on mixed-nationality British families.”
Chris Smyth of The Times highlighted that three-quarters of British people might now be considered “too poor to marry a foreigner.” Downing Street clarified that the overarching goal of these measures is to achieve the most significant reduction in net migration, with over 300,000 people who moved to the UK in 2022 being impacted.
Government’s Perspective: Tackling Abuse and Ensuring Self-Sufficiency
James Cleverly, in outlining the government’s perspective, emphasised the need to address the abuse of the immigration system. The package of measures is designed to end the influx of dependants, elevate minimum salaries for overseas workers and sponsors of family members, and combat exploitation within the immigration system.
The Health and Care visa, which has seen a substantial number of visas granted to care workers, will be subject to tighter regulations. The government aims to encourage businesses to prioritise British talent by raising the earning threshold for overseas workers and increasing the minimum income required for British citizens sponsoring family members.
Economic Impact and Measures for Domestic Workforce Growth
The government is determined to curb reliance on migration by encouraging businesses to invest in the domestic workforce. The Back to Work Plan, part of the Autumn Statement, focuses on growing the domestic workforce and helping individuals move into employment. The plan, building on a previous £7 billion employment package, aims to support up to 1.1 million people with long-term health conditions, disabilities, or unemployment.
The announced changes to the UK immigration system signal a significant shift in policy, with a focus on reducing net migration, safeguarding the integrity of the immigration system, and promoting the growth of the domestic workforce. As these measures are set to take effect in Spring 2024, they are expected to have far-reaching implications on various sectors and communities, prompting ongoing discussions and debates on the socio-economic landscape of the United Kingdom.
Why Instruct Our Specialist Immigration Solicitors?
At DJF Solicitors, our team of specialist London immigration lawyers will always act in your best interest. We offer a client-tailored approach from the outset. From the very first meetings, we will be able to advise you in respect of your prospects of submitting a visa application before your application even reaches the Home Office UK Visa & Immigration department. We can assist you with the preparation and submission of a visa application and are able to advise you in respect of your prospects and to ensure that you meet all the requirements of the relevant rules.
Preparation is the key to successful immigration applications. Our UK immigration and visa solicitors are here to guide you through the complex immigration rules and requirements. If you wish to meet one of our lawyers, please call our expert London Immigration Team so we can assess your case and arrange your legal consultation to discuss your visa application.