2024 Predictions for UK Immigration
Author: Karen Kaur
What to expect in 2024 for UK Immigration
As 2024 approaches, the landscape of UK immigration is poised for significant changes. From adjustments to minimum salary requirements for skilled workers, to the potential replacement of the shortage occupation list, as well as many other changes to long standing practices. This blog will delve into the key changes expected in 2024 and how they might impact jobseekers, businesses, current employees, and those joining family members in the UK.
Skilled worker minimum salary requirement increase
One of the most significant changes on the horizon is the increase in the minimum salary threshold for the skilled worker visa. The current minimum salary of £26,200 is set to undergo a substantial hike up to £38,700 from Spring 2024.
As we wait for the immigration rules to be updated, it has been implied in the media article for Skilled Workers that the salary will be applied to those ‘arriving’ on the Skilled Worker route: we will increase the earnings thresholds for those arriving on the Skilled Worker route, with the minimum threshold rising by 48% from £26,200 to £38,700 from spring 2024.
Regardless, this adjustment is going to impact many migrants seeking to work in the UK, making it imperative for migrant workers to reassess their eligibility and financial preparedness.
The new salary threshold demands careful consideration and financial planning for individuals and businesses equally. It is essential for both to evaluate the implications of this change and ensure that they meet the updated requirements. UK businesses are already feeling the strain on securing overseas talent with many not willing to or unable to cover the recently increased application fees. Smaller organisations who simply cannot afford to pay the £38,700 salary will be most affected.
As before, the government has yet to confirm if employers currently sponsoring skilled workers will be expected to pay the new rate for all employees or if there will an exemption for existing employees wishing to extend their stay. If the changes are for new job roles only then migrants currently in the UK wishing to apply for a new job with a separate employer will be affected. However, if they intend to stay with their current employer and extend their stay they would not.
Another crucial consideration for employers is whether the increased salary requirement of £38,700 represents the 'base' or if it can be part of a broader salary package.
The government also remains tight lipped on whether the 30% reduction in the salary threshold for 'new entrants,' including graduate visa holders and those under the age of 26 will continue. If it were to remain, the reduction could make new entrants more attractive to employers, potentially sparking demand for a younger skilled international workforce. If this is the case, businesses looking to capitalise on this opportunity should consider obtaining or maintaining a sponsor licence, enabling them to access the talent pool or retain the young talent they have already nurtured whilst working unsponsored on a graduate visa.
While awaiting official guidance, businesses are encouraged to prepare for the salary to be a guaranteed amount, with some allowances potentially discounted, as is the current practice.
Qualifying family members of most Skilled Workers categories are not affected by any changes. They may continue to enter the UK and remain with the main sponsored worker. Only family members of Health & Care industry Skilled Workers are affected at present. However, the rules for joining family members on the family life route will be affected.
Family Life Sponsorship: The £38,700 minimum salary threshold
For those looking to sponsor family members under the family life route, the minimum salary requirement is also set to rise to £38,700 from £18,600. This significant increase may present challenges for individuals wanting to bring their loved ones to the UK.
Prospective sponsors must be aware of these changes and plan accordingly. Ensuring that your financial situation aligns with the new threshold is crucial to the success of family life sponsorship applications. The significant hike in the salary requirements may lead to British nationals and migrants who have settled in the UK to move away from the UK to reunite with their loved ones in their native country or elsewhere.
Similarly, to the skilled worker salary increase, the government has yet to announce if the minimum salary requirement applies for visa extensions or new applications as of Spring 2024.
Ending of Biometric Residence Permits
From 31 December 2024 the Home Office will no longer issue physical BRP cards, instead all migrants will be able to prove their immigration status online, without a BRP.
UKVI will be providing guidance by mid-2024 on how this change will be reflected. According to their website, individuals do not need to do anything, and their immigration status will not be affected.
Therefore, it is going to be important to ensure those who are responsible for onboarding employees are aware of any new government right to work checks.
The onus is on the employer to monitor ‘key dates’ and have these recorded for review and action, especially for those under immigration control. The new digitalised migrant statuses will protect businesses from accepting false documentation which they may be unaware of.
Therefore, for the time being it is recommended that an employer obtains a share code from their employees and uses the online digital employer right to work check where possible, for a real time check for evidence of right to work with UKVI.
No more Shortage Occupation List?
The fate of the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) hangs in the balance and is set to be reviewed by the Home Office. There is speculation about the potential abolition of this list. The list currently indicates occupations facing shortages in the UK job market and jobs included on the list can be paid 80% of the job’s usual going rate to qualify for a Skilled Worker visa. If eliminated, this change could impact the ease with which certain professionals secure visas for work in the UK and industries already struggling due to skill shortages may find it even harder to meet demands.
The Home Secretary has indicated that any jobs on the SOL will not benefit from a 20% reduction in the threshold salary but that there would be specific skill rates of pay. This means that the minimum salary for shortage occupations could be lower than the £38,700 proposed.
With businesses still struggling to recruit talent, removal of the SOL would be a detriment, especially since many such as the construction trades were only added earlier this year and were highly welcomed by those in the industry.
Restrictions on student dependents:
Another significant change concerns student immigration. Postgraduate students and government sponsored students who are currently allowed to bring dependents in 2023, will no longer be able to as of 1 January 2024. The Home Office has announced that international students will no longer be able to bring family members, aside from those studying a PhD or a research-based higher degree. Aspiring students should be aware of these potential changes and consider the impact on their personal and family plans when pursuing education in the UK. This will also have implications for UK Universities, who rely heavily on international recruitment. Talented international students may choose to study and pursue a career in the field of employment elsewhere.
The year 2024 holds a series of transformations for the UK immigration landscape. As these changes unfold, individuals navigating the immigration process must stay informed, seek professional advice, and adapt their plans accordingly. By staying abreast of developments and understanding the implications, migrants can plan their route to work, settle or join family members in the UK. If you as an individual or a business are affected by any of the above, please don’t hesitate to contact Migrate UK for professional advice.
Get in with our specialist immigration team
If you would like any further information on any of the above changes, please don't hesitate to contact our team here at Migrate UK.