December 22, 2023

The Home Secretary Announces Changes to the UK’s Immigration System

On 4 December 2023, the Home Secretary announced several upcoming changes to the UK’s Immigration Rules, which are intended to cut migration levels. The government recently released official figures which showed net migration had reached a record level of 745,000 in 2022.

The Home Secretary, James Cleverly, announced the following:

  • From 16 January 2024, the Immigration Health Surcharge will be increased from £624 to £1,035 per year for adults (£470 to £776 per year for children).

    UPDATED 18 January 2024

    Following the initial announcement, a further announcement was made stating the delay of the implementation of this new fee. The delay was the consequence of a parliamentary debate on the issue being scheduled to occur in the House of Commons on 10 January 2024; the law can only come into effect 21 days or later after the debate. On 15 January 2024, the Immigration (Health Surcharge) (Amendment) Order 2023 was passed. This means the new health surcharge rates will come into effect on 6 February 2024 or later. The exact date is yet to be confirmed.

  • From April 2024, the minimum salary threshold for the Skilled Worker route will be increased from £26,200 to £38,700.
  • From April 2024, the minimum income requirement for a family visa will be increased from £18,600 to £38,700. 

    UPDATED 22 December 2023

    On 21 December 2023, the Home Office announced the minimum income requirement for a family visa will now be increased incrementally from £18,600 to £38,700. The first stage will be in spring 2024, when the threshold will be increased to £29,000. The threshold will later be increased to £34,500 and finally to £38,700.

    The Home Office arrived at this conclusion following criticism from immigration law practitioners and other stakeholders. The criticism was based on the fact that increasing the general threshold to £38,700 would eliminate 50% of the population’s eligibility to apply for family visas. Instead, the eligibility will be eliminated incrementally.

    The minimum income threshold is being increased to ensure that British citizens and Settled persons only bring to the UK dependants they can support financially.

  • Individuals issued visas as Health and Social Care Workers will no longer be able to bring family dependants (spouse and children) with them to the UK.
  • Health and social care agencies must be regulated by the Care Quality Commission to be able to sponsor employees.
  • The abolishment of the doctrine that allows individuals sponsored to work in a role found on the Shortage Occupation List to be paid a salary up to 20% less than the ‘going rate’ of the role.
  • The Home Office will review the Graduate route to 'prevent abuse'.

The Home Secretary hopes that these changes will reduce net migration by 300,000. However, some are concerned that curbing migration at this rate will be extremely detrimental to efforts to tackle skills shortages in the United Kingdom.

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