UK Immigration: Dates for the New Salary Thresholds, Family Visa Restrictions, and Health Surcharge Increase Announced

A series of restrictions will be implemented in the coming weeks in an effort to reduce the number of individuals entering Britain legally. The modifications to immigration regulations will be gradually introduced starting in March, according to the Home Office.

Rishi Sunak had previously committed to “do what is necessary” to decrease net migration, attributing the “very large numbers” to his predecessors. Pressure from Tory MPs mounted on the Prime Minister to take action following revised official estimates in November, revealing a record 745,000 net migration figure for 2022, higher than previously believed.

Home Secretary James Cleverly announced a ban on overseas care workers bringing family dependants and a significant increase in the salary threshold for skilled workers to £38,700, aiming for the “biggest ever reduction.”

Reforms will also make it more challenging for Britons earning below the national average to bring in foreign spouses. These measures are anticipated to reduce the number of people arriving in Britain by 300,000 annually, as stated at the time of the announcement.

On Tuesday, the government disclosed the scheduled implementation dates for the changes. The initial adjustments, effective March 11, restrict foreign care workers from bringing relatives to the UK and mandate care providers to register with the Care Quality Commission if they are sponsoring migrants.

From April 4, the minimum salary threshold for skilled worker visas will increase. Subsequently, the minimum income requirement for family visas will undergo staged increases, beginning with a rise to £29,000 on April 11 and reaching £38,700 by early 2025.

Criticism from right-wing Tory MPs, advocating for stricter migration controls, has been directed at the delayed implementation of the overall income threshold increase. James Cleverly emphasised that migration is “too high” and stated the need to return to sustainable levels. He described the measures as “robust” and part of a “firm approach, but a fair one,” allowing people time to prepare while ensuring a reduction in migration.

Tom Pursglove, the legal migration minister, affirmed that the government is already taking action and expects these measures to make a “tangible difference” to migration figures, contributing to a more sustainable net migration level.

According to The Irish News, despite concerns raised by MAC chairman Professor Brian Bell about the effectiveness of raising the income threshold for family visas in reducing net migration, the government is proceeding with changes to the Shortage Occupation List (SOL).

The SOL’s discount, typically 20% less than the going rate for a job, will be eliminated on March 14, and in early April, the SOL will be replaced by the new Immigration Salary List (ISL). The Immigration Health Surcharge, paid by certain foreign nationals on temporary immigration visas to access the NHS, will also increase by 66% to £1,035 from February 6.

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