Proposed Changes

The proposed changes to the immigration system were laid out by the Home Secretary, James Cleverly, as part of a robust five-point plan, which he declared would tackle legal immigration which was “far too high.” The changes are intended to reduce the net migration number by hundreds of thousands, with Cleverly suggesting that 300,000 people who were eligible last year would not be able to come to the UK under the new rules.

 

Change 1 – Social Care Workers Not Able to Bring Dependants

Previously, holders of a health and care worker visa could bring their dependant partners and children with them to the UK. To be able to do this, they would need to pay significant visa application fees and the Immigration Health Surcharge, plus prove they had the financial means to support themselves and their family in the UK. Despite this cumulative criteria, the Home Secretary said he would “end the abuse of the health and care visa.”

His proposed changes would stop 120,000 dependent health and care worker visas from being issued based on the 2022 numbers. The human toll of this is, of course, to potentially separate 120,000 partners and child dependants from the 100,000 health and care workers that would otherwise have come to the UK. Whether these workers will still come to the UK now is anyone’s guess.

The Home Secretary also stated that social care providers must be regulated by the Care Quality Commission to be able to sponsor foreign health and care workers.

 

Change 2 – Skilled Worker Earning Threshold to Increase to £38,700

The key headline and centre piece of the announcement was that the Skilled Worker Visa minimum earning threshold was to be increased from £26,200 to £38,700. This figure was aligned with the “full-time median salary for those kinds of jobs.” Health and care worker visa routes would be exempt from these changes, reflecting the underlying need for further staff and the relatively low salaries such workers earn.

 

Change 3 – Reform Shortage Occupation List and Ending 20% Going Rate Salary Discount 

The Home Secretary stated the government would end cut-price immigration from overseas by scrapping the 20% going rate salary discount for shortage occupations. He also added that the shortage occupation list would be reformed in line with the new minimum earnings threshold. The outcome of this would be fewer occupations listed on the shortage occupation list.

 

Change 4 – Minimum Income Requirement for Family Visas Increased in Line with Changes to Skilled Worker Visas

Changes were not limited to just work visas, with family visas also in the firing line. The home secretary announced a significant increase in the minimum income requirement for family visas, aligning the minimum threshold with skilled worker visas. This means an increase from the £18,600 figure set in 2012 to £38,700, an increase of more than 100%. Inevitably, this will mean some foreign partners cannot join their spouse, civil partner, or unmarried partner in the UK. Given the emotive nature of this change and the previous legal challenges, expect this change to be fiercely contested and resisted.

 

Change 5 – Ask the Government’s Migration Adviser to Review the Graduate Visa Route 

The Home Secretary’s final proposed change was to ask the government’s migration adviser to review the graduate visa route. Currently, students obtaining a bachelor’s degree qualification or above can obtain a 2 or 3-year visa to work in the UK and bring any dependants with them. Given the changes announced in May to limit dependents on student visas, it’s highly likely that graduate dependent visas will also be restricted.

 

Other Announcements 

As well as the five-point plan, the Home Secretary also restated the news about the Immigration Health Surcharge increasing by 66% from £624 to £1,035. He suggested this would raise £1.3 billion in revenue each year.

 

When Will the Changes Be Made?

No specific date was given, but the Home Secretary repeatedly referenced “next spring.” Given changes and fee increases are usually effective from April, this is the most likely date for changes to be implemented.

 

What Should I Do If I’m Impacted by the Changes?

If you will be impacted by any of these changes and are in a position to apply for your visa, we suggest you apply as soon as possible. There are no guarantees when these changes will become effective, and it’s always best to safeguard your and your family’s future in the UK. If you need assistance with your application, please contact First Migration. With over 16 years of experience and the only 5-star Trustpilot rating in the industry, we’re the go-to option for thousands of migrants.