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Home / News and Insights / Insights / Changes to income thresholds for family and skilled worker visas

On 30 January 2024, a ministerial statement was made confirming that two statements of changes will be coming in February and March this year. The first will remove the ability of care workers to bring dependents, and the second will include increasing the income thresholds for skilled workers and for families, among other changes.

These changes follow the government’s announcement on 4 December 2023 of a major package of measures to curb what it describes as abuse of the immigration system and to reduce net migration.

The immigration rules are to be laid out as follows:

On 19 February 2024:

  • To remove the right for care workers and senior care workers to bring dependents. This will come into force on 11 March 2024.
  • The rules will ensure that care providers in England will only be able to sponsor workers if they are regulated by the Care Quality Commission. The changes are intended to help tackle potential abuse of the Health and Care Visa route and ensure that those coming through this route genuinely support the social care system.

On 14 March 2024:

  • To increase the earnings threshold for those arriving on the Skilled Worker route by 48% from £26,200 to £38,700. This change will come into force on April 2024. The Health and Care Visa route is exempt from this threshold, as are workers in national pay scale occupations.
  • To increase the minimum income requirement for Family visas to £29,000 on 11 April 2024. There will be two further increases, to around £34,500 at an unspecified time later in 2024 and finally to around £38,700 ‘by early 2025’.
  • Following the Migration Advisory Committee’s rapid review of the Shortage Occupation List (commissioned in January 2024), the 20% going rate discount for roles on the List will be removed, and occupations recommended by the Committee will be temporarily added to the new Immigration Salary List. These changes will come into force in ‘early April’.

Comment

These changes will have a wide-ranging impact, particularly the increased salary thresholds, which are likely to create difficulty for employers who rely heavily on non-UK workers for lower and medium-skilled roles. Care home businesses may also find that removing care workers’ ability to bring their families acts as a deterrent for prospective overseas workers in a sector already suffering from a lack of available labour.

Employers should carefully assess their recruitment strategies and potentially accelerate visa applications over the next 12 months, which is set to be another turbulent period for the immigration system.

If you would like advice on any of the issues raised in this article, please reach out to our immigration team.

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