UK’s New Tough Visa Rules To Cut Migration

UK’s New Tough Visa Rules To Cut Migration

The UK government unveiled a robust ‘five-point plan' on December 4, 2023, intending to significantly decrease net migration, which has surged to an all-time high.

Home Secretary James Cleverly introduced a comprehensive strategy to restrain immigration, highlighting the pressing need to address its alarming levels, which he deemed “far too high.”

Central to these measures is the elevation of the minimum salary required for skilled overseas workers, soaring from £26,200 to £38,700. Mr. Cleverly emphasised that approximately 300,000 individuals eligible to enter the UK last year may find future entry restricted due to this adjustment.

The minimum income for family visas has also risen to £38,700.

In a statement to MPs, the home secretary said migration to the UK “needs to come down” and there had been “abuse” of health and care visas for years.

“Enough is enough,”

“Immigration policy must be fair, legal, and sustainable.”

UK Home Secretary James Cleverly

The migration plan comes after official figures last month showed net migration had soared to a record 745,000 in 2022.

Immigration is shaping up to be a key issue ahead of the next general election, which is expected in 2024.

In addition to the heightened salary prerequisites, the government outlined further measures:

  • Ban care workers bringing family dependants to the UK
  • End companies being able to pay workers 20% less than the going rate for jobs on a shortage occupation list
  • Increase the annual charge foreign workers pay to use the NHS from £624 to £1,035
  • Increase the minimum income for family visas to £38,700, from £18,600 from next spring
  • Review of the Graduate route

Staffing Concerns

The latest statistics show the challenge ministers will face in reducing migration into the health sector, which has come to rely heavily on hiring workers from abroad.

The government said in the year ending September 2023, 101,000 visas were issued to care workers.

An estimated 120,000 visas were granted to the family dependants of those care workers, the government said.

The care sector is facing staffing shortages and providers have resisted curbs on their ability to hire foreign workers.

The government's migration advisers have previously said that “persistent underfunding” of local councils, which funds most adult social care, is the most important factor in the staffing crisis.

Mr. Cleverly acknowledged some care workers might be deterred from coming to the UK because they would not be able to bring families under the new rules.

But he said he believed there would still be care workers who would be willing to work in the UK.

Dr. Madeleine Sumption, director of the Migration Observatory, said the decision to raise the family income threshold to £38,700 was “the biggest surprise of the day”.

The government's changes to the minimum income for family visas mean that people may be blocked from bringing their relatives to stay in the UK under certain circumstances.

“Family migration makes up a small share of the total, but those who are affected by it can be affected very significantly,”

“The largest impacts will fall on lower-income British citizens, and particularly women and younger people who tend to earn lower wages.”

Dr. Madeleine Sumption, Director of the Migration Observatory

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