Immigration rules – a reminder for employers

Late last year, the Government announced a package of proposals designed to cut net migration numbers into the UK. There are plans to increase the annual salary required to receive a UK skilled worker visa from £26,200 to £38,700 except for those coming into the UK on the health and care visa. This is expected to take effect from Spring 2024.

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. Initially, the Government announced that they would raise the minimum income for family visas to the same threshold as the minimum salary threshold for skilled workers (this would have meant an increase to £38,700 from £18,000). However, they have since announced that the intention is to raise the minimum income for family visas incrementally, in stages, “to give predictability to families”.

Since the beginning of January 2024, dependants are prevented from joining international students in the UK unless they are on postgraduate courses designated as a research programme. The health and care visa rules will also be tightened up by preventing overseas care workers from bringing their dependants to the UK.

In the biggest change to civil penalties since 2014, fines are to be more than tripled for employers who allow illegal migrants to work for them. The penalty for employers will be raised to £45,000 per illegal worker for a first breach and up to £60,000 for repeat breaches.

Employers should already be checking the eligibility of anyone they employ. If the individual has a time-limited right to work entitlement, as is the case with many types of visa, follow-up checks will be needed to ensure this is renewed. There are a number of ways to check right to work eligibility, which are not changing, including a manual check of original documentation and a Home Office online checking system. 

The following checks can be completed for British and Irish citizens.

  • A manual document-based check.
  • A digital check using Identity Document Verification Technology (IDVT) via the services of an Identity Service Provider (IDSP).

The following checks are available for all other nationalities.

  • A manual document-based check.
  • An online check using the Home Office checking service.

A record must be kept of all checks that are carried out and retained for at least the duration of the individual’s employment.

If you are concerned that these changes affect your workplace, contact 121 HR Solutions for advice on 0800 9995 121.

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