In a significant development for immigrant families, the UK government has unveiled plans to gradually raise the minimum salary requirement for family visas, opting for a phased approach rather than an immediate spike.
Skilled Work Visa Minimum Salary Sees 47% Increase
Earlier this month, the Sunak government declared a substantial 47% surge in the minimum salary for skilled work visas.
- The initial, significant hike in the skilled worker visa threshold to £38,700 announced earlier this month remains in place.
- However, the minimum salary requirement for family visas will now gradually reach £38,700, starting with an increase to £29,000 in spring 2024.
- The timeline for further increases and full alignment is expected to be outlined by next spring.
Alignment of Family and Skilled Work Visa Thresholds
- A key feature of the revised strategy is the synchronization of income thresholds for family and skilled worker visas.
- This means that child allowances will no longer be included in family visa income calculations.
- British nationals and migrants will be treated equally, with a flat-rate threshold regardless of sponsored children.
Balancing Immigration Goals with Family Reuniting
Home Secretary James Cleverly clarified that the revised plan aims to achieve a 30% reduction in net migration compared to the previous year. He also emphasized the government’s commitment to:
- Reviewing the list of occupations in short supply to attract skilled workers.
- Implementing measures to ensure immigrants can adequately support their families.
Broader Immigration Strategy and Upcoming Elections
The plan comes amidst a broader immigration reform package, including:
- Tighter regulations for student visas.
- A 66% increase in the health surcharge for non-citizens using the National Health Service.
These changes are likely to influence the upcoming national elections in January 2025, with immigration expected to be a key issue.
Recent statistics showing net migration exceeding initial estimates could further shape the political landscape, with the Labour Party currently leading in polling data.
The UK government’s shift to a gradual increase in family visa income requirements offers some flexibility for immigrant families while aligning with its broader objectives of controlling net migration and attracting skilled workers.
However, the impact of these changes, along with other immigration reforms, remains to be seen, especially in the context of the upcoming elections.