Article
February 15th, 2024

Immigration Costs due to Surge this Spring

Many clients relocate individuals from abroad to the UK as part of their expansion strategy, recognising the many benefits relocating experienced talent from abroad to the UK can bring when establishing the UK operations.

Planned changes to immigration will take place during Spring this year in attempt to reduce the net migration of individuals to the UK, as announced by the Home Secretary at the end of last year. The recent increase in Visa fees and Immigration Health Surcharge, coinciding with the additional charges will result in a substantial increase in costs for businesses obtaining Visas for foreign nationals relocating to the UK.

In this article, we have summarised three significant changes which will impact a large number of clients, and two additional changes related to student & health/care worker visas.

 

  • Salary Increases – Skilled Worker Visa – from 4 April 2024

There will be an increase by nearly 50% in the salary threshold required for the Skilled Worker visa application for most professions (excluding health/care workers and some other professions), raising from the current £26,200 minimum to £38,700.

This substantial hike in the base salary, to more than twice the minimum wage, will make it commercially unsustainable for a number of positions regularly filled by sponsored workers historically. Whilst restricting employment opportunities is likely to significantly reduce the movement of people into the UK, it is expected to create staff shortages across certain industries.

 

  • Salary Increases – Family Visa

In an attempt to ensure only dependents who can be financially supported are brought to the UK on the family Visa, an increase in the minimum salary for the family visa has also been announced, more than doubling from the current £18,600 to £38,700. A question will be posed by many businesses on whether commercially the hike in salary is viable, or whether hiring local UK talent is a better solution.

 

  • Shortage Occupation List Salary reduction buffer removed, and list of eligible occupations will reduce

Currently a discount is applied to the minimum salary for certain professions where experience is lacking in the UK. This includes a number of roles across construction, engineering, technology and other areas. The shake-up of immigration costs means this existing 20% discount will be removed, and a will be replaced by a new, shorter, eligible occupation list as the type of roles to sponsor will also be reduced.

 

UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) will make further changes to the health/care visa routes, where from 11 March 2024 care workers and senior care workers will be prevented from bringing dependent partners and children to the UK with them.

 

From January 2024, international students in the UK are unable to bring dependents with them on the Student Visa unless they are studying a postgraduate research programme. It should also be noted that that the Government is calling for a review on the Graduate visa route (which is a post-study work visa) and at this time allows Graduates a 2 year period to work in the UK post studies. The review is expected to happen closer to the end of 2024, but there is a chance this Visa route could be closed or significantly changed.

 

Whilst there remains a number of aspects still to be clarified, which we will keep you updated on over the coming months, it is evident that the changes will have significant impact on employers during already challenging times.

 

The increase in salaries will not impact any granted Visa’s until their point of renewal, and the current charges remain in place for a number of months, so employers may choose to expedite any current recruitment plans to take advantage of the existing salary bandings. If you are exploring moving individuals from abroad to the UK, including applying for a UK sponsorship license, please contact our HR Manager Jacqui Brown initially to discuss your UK expansion plans.