New Immigration rule changes effective 4th April 2024

Adarsh Girijadevi
21/03/2024

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Over the last few weeks, there have been a lot of talks about the major changes in Immigration as the UK government plans to cut down net migration. In our earlier blog, Immigration Rule Changes, we have discussed all the announcements starting from 4th December 2023.  

Earlier, the Home Office announced the dates when the changes will come into effect, and 14th  March 2024 was one of them. This reform would be the biggest one since Brexit. Even though changes have been made to other visa routes, the latest one focuses more on work visas and the new salary thresholds to be effective from 4th April 2024. 

Changes to the skilled worker salary 

The minimum salary threshold for a candidate to be sponsored under a skilled worker visa will increase to £38,700 from £26,200. Per the new rules, the going rate threshold will increase from the 25th percentile from ASHE 2021 to the 50th percentile as per ASHE 2023. This does not include Health and Care Worker Visa or education workers on national pay scale. This change will come into effect for all the skilled worker applications made on or after 4th April 2024. The Home Office will also adopt the new coding system SOC 2020, which contains the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) pay data instead of the SOC 2010.

Transitional changes for skilled worker route 

Transitional arrangements are applicable to those with existing permissions and those submitting initial applications with a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) assigned before 4th April 2024. The general salary threshold under these arrangements is based on the 25th percentile, but it will increase from £26,200 to £29,000 for individuals with CoS assigned on or after 4 April 2024. For individuals who fall under transition arrangements, the going rate is slightly going to increase in line with the 25th percentile full-time wage for the job. 

Skilled Workers seeking UK settlement under transitional arrangements need to earn at least £29,000 or the going rate, whichever is greater. These arrangements last until 3rd April 2030, provided Skilled Workers maintain their status.  

Applications to extend, change employment, or settle should be submitted before 4th April 2030, as posts after this date will be subject to new salary requirements. For example: 

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These rates are based on 37.5 weekly working hours.

Supplementary work for skilled worker route 

The skilled workers are currently allowed to work up to 20 hours per week on the same occupation code and professional level as their sponsored role. However, the new rules will allow them to take on supplementary work in any occupation eligible for the skilled worker route, which would mean that more skilled workers will want to take on supplementary work. More on supplementary work changes for skilled workers are here.

Changes in the Health and Care Sector 

The rules for Health and Care have not changed much, other than those that occurred on March 11th regarding family members not permitted. The Health and Care roles will not be required to meet the new higher salary threshold; there will be a slight increase in occupation-specific thresholds as these will be based on the 25th percentile of the ASHE 2023 as opposed to the previous 2021 salaries or national pay scales.  

Minor adjustments will be made to the base salary requirement for Health and Care roles that are not on a national payscale, raising it from £26,200 to £29,000. For those in Health and Care roles that are mentioned on the Immigration Salary List and that follow a national payscale, the salary threshold will be set at £23,200. Health and Care sector roles will also be able to take advantage of salary concessions available to new entrants and PhD holders. 

New entrants 

The recent changes to the Immigration Rules confirm that the reduced salary arrangement for new entrants will continue beyond 4th April. The general salary threshold for new entrants will be 20% lower than the standard, set at £30,960, and £23,200 for Health and Care roles. New entrants will also get a 30% reduction on the going rate. However, employers should note that in some cases, the discounted going rate might exceed the general salary threshold. To be eligible, the applicant must be ‘at the start of their career’ though the changes has not defined, what start of the career means. 

The new rules also state that workers relying on the new entrant threshold can only apply for a maximum stay of 4 years, including time spent in the UK as a Skilled Worker, Graduate, or Tier 2 visa holder. If new entrants wish to extend their visa, they will need to meet the higher salary threshold at the time of extension.

Immigration Salary List (ISL) 

After a ‘rapid review’ conducted by the MAC, the decade-old Shortage Occupation List (SOL) will be succeeded by the Immigration Salary List (ISL). The ISL identifies positions where the UK Government deems it appropriate to apply a reduced salary threshold (encompassing approximately 8% of all sponsorable roles), as opposed to a comprehensive list of all occupations facing labour shortages (which constituted 30% of all sponsorable roles). The MAC plans to conduct a thorough examination of the ISL in 2024.  

Similar to the SOL, positions included on the list will benefit from a 20% reduction from the standard salary threshold, setting it at £30,960 or £23,200, contingent on whether the original threshold was £38,700 or £29,000. However, the SOL’s 20% discount to the going rate requirement is removed.

Changes in other visa routes 

Other visa routes are also affected by these changes. Work-based routes like Senior or Specialist Workers under the Global Business Mobility route will see an increase in salary threshold from £45,800 to £48,500. For Graduate Trainees on the same route, the salary threshold is updated to £25,410 from £24,220. 

The general salary threshold has increased from £34,600 to £36,300 for the Scale-up route. In some temporary work routes, mandatory English language requirements have been introduced.  

For the creative worker route, the rules are becoming stricter. Previously, these people didn’t have to prove they were filling a job a UK resident couldn’t. Now, these workers will need to show that they are bringing something special to the UK’s creative scene. 

The new Appendix Long residence introduces a new provision which requires applicants to have held their current permission for one year (or have been exempt from immigration control within the 12 months immediately before their application) to qualify for settlement on the basis of long residency. 

The minimum income threshold for family members, on the five-year route to settlement as a partner under Appendix FM, will rise from £18,600 to £29,000 from 11 April 2024. 

Starting from 4 April 2024, the “Administrative Review (EU)” Appendix will be revised to eliminate the possibility for individuals to submit out of time applications for an administrative review of a pertinent EUSS decision made prior to 5 October 2023.

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