News & Insights

Immigration Update – December 2023

The Government has announced various measures intended to curb abuse of the UK immigration system and cut net migration.

On 4 December 2023, the current Home Secretary, James Cleverly, announced plans to curb immigration abuse and cut net migration with the hope of having a “tangible impact” on reducing net migration by roughly 300,000. This move follows the Government’s announcement in May 2023, which saw a ban on students bringing dependants to the UK.

The key measures announced by the government include:

  1. Care workers applying for a Health and Care visa from overseas will no longer be able to bring dependents to the UK. Care workers and senior care workers already on a Health and Care visa will be able to remain with their dependants and apply to extend their visa or change their employer. Equally, if existing care workers and senior care workers wish to bring dependants to the UK before the Immigration Rules change, they are able to do so. Any other individuals who are in the UK or on any other route, including routes that permit dependants, who switch to a Health and Care visa as a care worker or a senior care worker after this date will not be able to stay with (or bring over) dependants.
  2. Social care firms in the UK who sponsor workers will be required to be regulated by the Care Quality Commission. Care providers who have sponsored workers in exclusively non-regulated activities before the change to the rules is implemented are able to continue to sponsor these workers and request extensions to their existing visa but will not be able to hire new workers on the same terms.
  3. The minimum salary threshold for Skilled Worker visas will increase from £26,200 to £38,700. The individual occupation ‘going rate’ thresholds will also be increase in line with median full-time wage for equivalent jobs. These changes will take effect on 4 April 2024. Those already in the Skilled Worker route before April should be exempt from the new salary levels when they change sponsor, extend their existing stay or apply to settle.
  4. Applicants coming to the UK on the Health & Social Care visa route will be exempt from the £38,700 salary threshold requirement which will apply to Skilled Workers, on the basis that the Government recognises the need to continue to support the recruitment of overseas healthcare workers to ensure continuity in the care sector and NHS.
  5. Replace the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) with a new “Immigration Salary List” also known as the “ISL”. This move will see the end of the 20% going rate salary discount for shortage occupations as from 14 March 2024, and is further to advice from the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) who claimed that the SOL was open to abuse. The government propose to commission the MAC in January to advise on which of the current SOL occupations should remain on the list in line with the new salary thresholds.
  6. The minimum income requirement for family visas will be increased in line with the new minimum general salary threshold for Skilled Workers as above, to ensure that applicants can only bring dependents to the UK who are able to support themselves financially. This move will apply to all British and settled sponsors under the five-year Partner route. Following a U-turn by the government, it is proposed that this increase will be introduced in increments. See here for an update on this announcement.
  7. There will no longer be a separate child element to the minimum income requirement, to ensure that British nationals are not treated less favourably than migrants, who are only required to meet the general Skilled Worker threshold as a flat rate, regardless of any children being sponsored.
  8. The government propose to ask the MAC to review the use of the Graduate visa route in January 2024, in the hope that this review will prevent abuse.

We will continue to share updates on the Government’s migration policy as they are announced.

If you believe any of the above changes are likely to affect you or migrants you currently sponsor, please get in touch at [email protected]