Immigration has become a huge challenge for the UK government. So much so, that a new set of immigration regulations has been recently rolled out in response to record-high migration numbers. Spearheaded by Home Secretary James Cleverly, these changes aim to significantly reduce the influx of migrants.
“Enough is enough,” Mr Cleverly said. “Immigration policy must be fair, legal and sustainable.”
This is a clear attempt to reflect the government’s commitment to reshaping the UK’s immigration landscape. Let’s explore this in more detail to understand its impact on UK visa applicants.
Overview of the plan
The recent immigration plan introduces significant changes aimed at reducing overall migration to the UK. Key aspects include a substantial increase in the salary threshold for skilled worker visas, raising it to nearly 50% higher than the previous requirement.
The plan includes trimming the “shortage occupation list,” which lets some people migrate to the UK at lower wages. This change is part of efforts to decrease net migration, which was 745,000 in 2022, reflecting the total number of people entering and exiting the UK.
Key changes in the immigration policy
So, what areas of immigration are likely to be affected?
Skilled worker salaries
A major change is the rise in the minimum salary required for skilled workers from other countries, increasing from £26,200 to £38,700, almost a 50% hike. This increase is meant to reduce the number of skilled workers coming in, matching the UK’s economic and job market needs.
Family visa income
In a similar move, the income threshold for family visas has also been increased to £38,700. This change is expected to significantly reduce the number of families able to reunite in the UK under the new rules.
Family dependents for care workers
A big new rule is that care workers from other countries can’t bring their families, like partners and children, to the UK. This is likely to greatly change the types of people who are able to come to Britain.
Increased healthcare charges
Foreign workers will face an increase in their annual NHS charge, escalating from £624 to £1,035, which will add an additional financial burden.
Graduate visa routes
The government also intends to closely examine the graduate visa system to prevent it from being misused. It will need to make sure it meets the UK’s immigration objectives.
What are the expected results of these changes?
Scheduled for implementation in the upcoming spring, the UK’s new immigration rules are expected to significantly reduce overall immigration, potentially lowering it by around 300,000 people.
The increase in salary requirements and restrictions will mean the UK will have less skilled professionals from overseas. The NHS and private care will suffer hugely as not being able to bring dependents will impact healthcare workers’ decisions to come. If a family can’t qualify for a family visa, the chance of being able to reunite in the UK decreases and will make families think again before migrating.
What are the critics saying?
The plan has not been without its detractors. Labour’s Yvette Cooper has called for more substantial reforms, while Christina McAnea from Unison raised concerns about the potential negative impact on the NHS and social care sectors.
Former Home Secretary Suella Braverman argued that these measures are too little, too late. Writing on social media, she said: “I welcome the measures announced today to cut net migration. They are a step in the right direction. But we need to be honest. This package is too late and the government can go further.”
A major challenge will be the potential impact on sectors like healthcare, which rely heavily on foreign labour. While some care workers might be put off from coming to the UK, the government think there will still be interest in these roles.
The new immigration rules have started debates on how to manage immigration while still helping important industries economically.
Quality legal guidance from Osbourne Pinner
With these big changes in immigration rules, it’s important for people and businesses to know how they might be affected. Osbourne Pinner Solicitors, experts in immigration law, can offer important advice and help. We can guide you through these new rules to make sure you follow them and have the best chance of a successful immigration application.