UK Announces Plans to Introduce New Caps on Work and Family Visas

Written by

Sunaina Malik

Fact check by

Divyansh Chaudhari

Updated on

Jul 25,2024

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The government of the United Kingdom has announced several changes to the current immigration system to significantly reduce net migration. Employers and individuals seeking to come to the UK need to be aware of these changes which will affect both work and family visas. These changes are the result of political and social pressures concerning immigration, and they will be introduced in a staged process throughout 2024 and early 2025.

Major Changes to Work Visas

Staying with the general picture of the immigration reform of the UK government, we will begin to explore the significant changes in work visas. These changes will enormously impact employers and individuals seeking to come to the UK. This government has taken up these changes with a view to the various matters of immigration and the promotion of skilled workers and their future employers through a reformed skilled sector. 

Increase in Salary Thresholds

One of the most notable changes relates to the Skilled Worker visa. From the date of April 4, 2024, the minimum salary threshold will be increased from £26,200 to £38,700. This change will bring the minimum salary threshold more in line with median full-time salaries for similar job roles. This change reflects the government's desire to ensure that only a certain type of migrant – highly skilled and highly paid – can come to the UK on this route. 

Occupational Impact

Some occupations will have the minimum salary levels increased due to specific Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes. For instance, IT business analysts will have their minimum salary moved up to £51,700, and programmers will be required to earn a minimum of £49,400. Thus, the minimum salary rates for several occupations are more reflective of current market conditions.

Health and Care Worker Visa

There will be considerable changes in the Health and Care Worker visa as well. From March 11, 2024, only care providers regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) will be able to sponsor visas. Furthermore, care workers will face restrictions on bringing dependents to the UK if they enter under this visa. Therefore, this is projected to lead to a substantial reduction in the number of dependents entering the UK, which, in turn, contributes to the adjustment within the wider net migration numbers.

Family Visas

This references the UK government's announcements on the recent immigration system reforms from the UK Immigration Rules. This includes changes to family visa conditions, which represents a significant transition to UK immigration policy, specifically how UK residents can sponsor their close family members. By considering the up-scaling of those financial thresholds and allowing for a transitional period of measures, these changes are intended to be consistent with the government's aim to reduce overall migration whilst considering a dynamic approach to life expectancies. 

Minimum Income Requirement Increased

The minimum income threshold for a UK resident to sponsor a family member is set to undergo a significant increase. The current threshold of £18,600 will increase to £29,000 in spring 2024, then escalate to £38,700 in early 2025. The UK government plans to increment the minimum income requirement over at least two years to give families time to adjust, in line with the government's overall commitment to reducing UK migration numbers.

Savings Requirement

There will also be an option to prove sufficient savings for generating the income requirement. The amount needed for this will be adjusted to apply either the income or savings threshold to enable UK residents to support their family members without recourse to public funds.

Graduate Visa Review

The Graduate visa, which allows international students to stay and work in the UK for two to three years after graduation, will be under review until the end of 2024. This visa route is favoured by many employers who can recruit overseas students without having to sponsor them. The review will decide the future of this visa route, potentially introducing new restrictions that would further govern UK migration. 

Employers and Migrant Implications

Both employers and migrants will be affected by these changes. Companies must rethink their hiring strategies, especially if they depend on international labour. The implications for migrants mean that more people will likely be eligible for the visa if they satisfy the new income threshold, but changes to the qualification categories and required salary levels could make this visa out of monetary reach for some migrants.

Conclusion

The UK Government's new proposed immigration policies are a reaction to the rapidly rising net migration figures and political pressure within the UK. These policies, which set higher salary thresholds and restrict family visas, are part of the Government's attempts to govern the number of people coming to the UK and to ensure that those who do come are more highly skilled and financially stable. This will mean a great deal of juggling for both employers and individuals to meet (or ensure their employees meet) these new requirements and expected timelines. 

Visit TerraTern to learn more about UK immigration and start your immigration journey. With an expert team and a knowledgeable subject matter expert, Terratern can be your partner to help you reach your destination smoothly!

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Frequently Asked Questions

When will the new salary threshold for Skilled Worker visas come into effect?

From 4th April 2024, the new salary threshold of £38,700 applies.

What is the new minimum income requirement for sponsoring a family member?

This is going to rise to £29,000 by next spring and then to £38,700 in early 2025.

Can care workers still bring dependents to the UK?

Health and Care Worker Visa: care workers will be banned from bringing dependants to the UK from 11 March 2024 as part of new rules.

Will there be any changes to the Graduate visa route?

The graduate visa route will be reviewed by the end of 2024, which could result in further restrictions.

Are there any transitional provisions for those already holding a Skilled Worker visa?

Yes, if existing Skilled Worker visa holders apply for extensions or changes before 4 April 2030, they may be subject to transitional salary thresholds.