ArticleUpdate on the upcoming changes in UK immigration policy

In a significant policy shift, Home Secretary James Cleverly unveiled a comprehensive “five-point plan” on 4 December 2023 aimed at curtailing immigration numbers in the UK. Subsequent details released by the Home Office on 21 December 2023 outlined not only the planned changes but also modifications to the original proposals.

1. Restricting dependents for social care workers: One of the more contentious aspects of the plan involves social care workers on visas being prohibited from bringing dependents, including partners and children, to the UK. This change, slated to take effect early in the new year, represents a significant shift in policy, potentially impacting the attractiveness of the UK for overseas care workers.

2. Hike in skilled worker visa salary threshold: In a move to tighten the skilled worker visa criteria, the baseline minimum salary for sponsorship will be raised from £26,200 to £38,700, effective from April. Notably, this increase excludes those on the health and care worker visa and education workers on national pay scales.

3. Overhauling the shortage occupation list: The government plans to revise the shortage occupation list significantly, reducing the number of roles eligible for sponsorship below the baseline minimum salary. This adjustment, not expected before April, aims to narrow the gateways for overseas workers in specific sectors.

4. Increased income requirements for spouse/partner visas: In a phased approach, the minimum income requirement for sponsoring a spouse or partner visa will initially rise to £29,000 in spring 2024, with a further increase to about £38,700 planned for the future. This development could have far-reaching implications for families planning to unite or stay in the UK.

5. Review of the Graduate Visa scheme: The Graduate visa, a two-year unsponsored work permit for international graduates from British universities, is set for a review starting in January. The review will potentially extend until late 2024. This review could reshape the landscape for international students in the UK.

These impending changes is part of a broader strategy to manage immigration flows into the UK. It marks a significant pivot in the country’s immigration policy. As these developments unfold, they are likely to reshape not only the demographics of immigration but also the sectors most affected by these changes.

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