The 2024 Changes to UK Immigration Rules

If you’ve been following the recent developments in immigration rules in the UK, you might have some burning questions about the changes announced in December 2023. The Home Secretary, James Cleverly, outlined a “five-point plan” aimed at reducing immigration. In this article, we’ll break down the key alterations, their timelines, and address some common concerns to help you understand how they may affect you or your loved ones.

The Five Changes

The announced changes to UK immigration rules in 2024 focuses on five key adjustments, each addressing different facets such as family reunification, minimum income requirements, and eligibility criteria for skilled workers.

  • Dependants for Social Care Workers: Social care workers will no longer be able to bring their partners and children with them on their visa.
  • Skilled Worker Visa Salary Increase: The baseline minimum salary for a Skilled Worker visa will surge from £26,200 to £38,700. However, this increase doesn’t apply to the Health and Care Worker visa or education workers on national pay scales.
  • Shortage Occupation List Changes: The shortage occupation list, designed to facilitate the sponsorship of overseas workers below the minimum salary, will see significant revisions.
  • Spouse/Partner Visa Minimum Income: The minimum income required to sponsor a spouse/partner visa will rise in stages – from £18,600 to £29,000, then approximately £34,500, and finally reaching around £38,700.
  • Graduate Visa Review: The Migration Advisory Committee will conduct a review of the Graduate visa, a two-year unsponsored work permit for overseas graduates of British universities.

When Will These Changes Take Effect?

While the initial announcement indicated a broad implementation in “spring,” the changes have diverse timelines:

  • Care Worker Family Ban: Expected to take effect “as soon as possible in the new year” of 2024.
  • Skilled Worker Salary Increase: Set for April 2024.
  • Shortage Occupation List Revisions: Also scheduled for April 2024.
  • Spouse/Partner Visa Income Hike: The income threshold will increase to £29,000 in “spring 2024,” then rise further, reaching around £38,700 by “early 2025.”
  • Graduate Visa Review: Commencing in January and possibly concluding by “late 2024.”

Advance Warning and Parliamentary Approval

Will there be advance warning of the changes? The government typically follows a convention of at least 21 days between laying out the statement of changes and the new rules taking effect. However, this is not a legal requirement, leaving some room for uncertainty. MPs won’t vote to approve, reject, or amend the changes unless there is active opposition within 40 days. These alterations automatically become law unless challenged.

Why Make These Changes?

The government’s primary rationale for these changes is the belief that immigration levels are “far too high.” With a provisional estimate of 745,000 net migrants in the 12 months ending December 2022, the government contends that implementing these alterations would have prevented around 300,000 individuals from entering the UK during that period.

Specifics on Spouse/Partner Visa

If you or someone you know is extending a spouse/partner visa after spring 2024, rest assured that the £29,000 threshold applies only to first-time applicants. Those with an existing family visa or applying before the threshold increase won’t be affected by the higher requirements.

Income Considerations for Spouse/Partner Visa

When applying for the initial visa from outside the UK, only the sponsor’s income is considered. However, for extensions and permanent residence, both the applicant’s and sponsor’s incomes count. Don’t worry if you fall short of the minimum income. Alternative methods, such as using savings or meeting exceptional circumstances, are still valid.

Savings Threshold Changes

Concerned about the savings threshold? While the current rules tie savings requirements to the income threshold, there has been no official word on whether this will change with the new adjustments. The government is reportedly consulting on this matter.

International Comparisons

Curious about how the UK stacks up against other countries? Many nations impose minimum income requirements for spouse visas, but exact comparisons are challenging due to varied expressions and assessments. Notably, the UK ranked second from bottom among 56 countries for family reunion ease in 2020, according to the Migrant Integration Policy Index.

Skilled Worker Visa Salary Threshold

If you’re on a Skilled Worker visa, relax; the new £38,700 salary threshold won’t affect those already in the system or applications submitted before the rule changes. Certain circumstances, such as being a new entrant to the labour market, may allow for a slightly lower salary.

In conclusion, while these immigration changes aim to address government concerns about high immigration levels, it’s crucial to stay informed about the specific details that may impact you or your loved ones. As the government provides further policy details, make sure to stay updated to navigate these changes seamlessly.

How SilverOak Solicitors can assist you

SilverOak Solicitors is your trusted partner when it comes to navigating the intricacies of immigration matters. Our team of experienced and dedicated legal professionals understands the evolving landscape of immigration rules, including the recent changes announced in 2024.

Whether you are seeking assistance with spouse/partner visa applications, Skilled Worker Visas, or any other immigration-related concerns, we are here to guide you through the process. With a commitment to providing personalised and comprehensive legal support, SilverOak Solicitors ensures that your immigration journey is smooth and successful. Trust us to handle the complexities, so you can focus on building your future in the UK.

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