Yesterday the Home Secretary, James Cleverly MP announced a plan to reduce legal immigration in the UK by 300,000. Below is a summary of these proposals. We are already being asked by No. 10, the Home Office and the Department for Business and Trade about the impacts these proposals will have on our sector. We would be interested to hear:
- Your initial reactions and to understand how these changes may affect your business.
- How the higher threshold for the Skilled Worker Route will deter hiring overseas roles (and if there are any areas of shortages that would be most impacted by the higher threshold)?
Please send any comments to Tanya. We will keep you updated on developments. Below is a summary of the changes and some preliminary timescales.
Summary of the announcement:
The changes to the immigration plan are intended to cut net migration by 300,000 and to eliminate the abuse and exploitation of the current visa system by both companies and individuals. On 23rd November, the ONS released the latest migration figures for the year ending June 2023, showing that net migration was 672,000. This was significantly higher than the pre-pandemic net migration levels, although lower than the 745,000 who came to in the year to December 2022.
The Home Office is currently working to find a date to bring the proposed legislation to Parliament, it is doubtful this will happen before February 2024. The new regulation would go into effect in ‘Spring 2024’.
Skilled Worker Route
- Increasing the salary threshold for work-related visas by 48%, from its current position of £26,200 to £38,700, in line with the median full-time wage for equivalent jobs. This is the median earning of UK workers on roles RQF Level 3 and above.
- Those on the Health and Care visa route will be exempted so we can continue to bring healthcare workers on which our care sector and NHS depends.
- The Immigration Health Surcharge will increase from £624 to £1,035.
- Replace the shortage occupational list (SOL) with a new Immigration Salary Discount List, ending the 20% going rate salary discount for shortage occupations and asking the Migration Advisory Committee to review the composition of the list in line with the increased salary thresholds.
- For now, the 20% minimum rate threshold will remain for occupations on the SOL (while it is still in use), but will be significantly higher due to the change in median earning threshold of £38,700. These levels have not been set, but more detail will be released in due course.
- To note: In the most recent review of the SOL the Migration Advisory Committee completed a major review of the SOL. This resulted in all of the occupations our sector had on the list being removed. We were already discussing the if the SOL was fit for purpose.
Health Care Visa
- Removing the entitlement for people on care and senior care worker visas to bring dependants.
- Care providers can only sponsor migrant workers in England if they are undertaking activities regulated by the Care Quality Commission. The government will engage with the Devolved Administrations to agree whether these measures need to be expanded out with the equivalent regulators.
Dependants of British Citizens or settled people
- Increasing the Minimum Income Requirement for family members who come to the UK to live with British citizens or settled people sponsoring family members to £38,700 (from £18,600) in line with the minimum salary threshold for the Skilled Worker route.
- A review of the Graduate visa route, to be carried out by the Migration Advisory Committee, to ensure it is fit for purpose and to prevent abuse.
- The Home Office is speaking with the MAC about the two consultations, the Immigration Salary Discount list and the review of the Graduate Visa Route and expect they will both take place next year, although details are still TBD.
- Now the announcement has been made, the Home Office will create a Regulatory Impact Assessment which will outline the analysis underpinning the decision making. They will also be looking for input into the impact of these changes on the labour market as they develop the next level of policy detail.
- Currently it is only these 5 areas where changes are being made in the immigration system, so other current routes (i.e. the Seasonal Workers Scheme) will remain unaffected.
- We expect more detail as it is worked out by government and will keep members updated as things progress.
Please send any feedback on the above, or any specific concerns you would like addressed to Tanya.