Government plan to slash immigration rates in 2024

The Home Secretary has announced a plan to drastically reduce migration levels as a means of curbing what he has described as “abuse of the immigration system”. The changes will mean that at least 300,000 people who came to the UK last year would now not be able to come.

The measures will mean a significant reduction in the numbers of dependants coming to the UK and will increase the minimum salaries that overseas workers must earn. With effect from March 2024, the government will tighten the Health and Care Worker visa, which has seen visas granted to care workers and their dependants, by preventing overseas care workers from bringing their dependants to the UK. The increase of earnings threshold for overseas workers is nearly 50% – with the minimum required earnings rising from £26,200 to £38,700 per annum. The government will also increase the minimum income required for British citizens and those settled in the UK who want their family members to join them.

The measures also include an end to the 20% going-rate salary discount for shortage occupations and will replace the Shortage Occupation List with a new Immigration Salary List which is expected to have a reduced number of occupations on the list.

The Migration Advisory Committee has also been asked to review the Graduate visa route to ensure it works in the best interests of the UK and to ensure that steps are being taken to prevent abuse. Essentially, this package of measures takes tough action to reduce the substantial rise in students bringing dependants to the UK.  This will take place almost immediately, affecting students whose courses start in January 2024.

In addition to measures to reduce migration, the government is increasing the annual Immigration Health Surcharge from £624 to £1,035 to make sure that migrants coming to the UK contribute a healthy amount towards their healthcare costs. 

Workers and their dependants account for some of the highest proportion of visas being issued, with Skilled Worker and Health and Care Worker visas accounting for 63% of work grants, and the proportion of work-related visas being granted to dependants rising to 43% in the year ending September 2023.  

The reaction to this announcement has been mixed with many employers concerned about the effect of these changes on their ability to recruit, and to retain graduate visa employees.

If you are concerned about how these measures affect you, contact 121 HR Solutions on 0800 9995 121 for support.

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