In a bid to curb record-breaking immigration levels, the UK government announced a five-point plan today that will significantly impact foreign workers and their families.
The centrepiece of the plan is a hefty increase in the minimum salary required for skilled worker visas, jumping from £26,200 to a staggering £38,700.
Home Secretary James Cleverly, unveiling the measures, declared that migration to the UK was “far too high” and blamed “abuse” of health and care visas for years of unchecked growth.
Immigration is too high.
We’re taking action to bring it down. pic.twitter.com/ba9hMAB7u4— James Cleverly🇬🇧 (@JamesCleverly) December 4, 2023Advertisement
This sentiment echoes the pressure Conservative MPs have been piling on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, particularly after last week’s figures revealed net migration hitting a record 745,000 in a single year.
Key Changes Impacting Foreign Workers
1. Minimum Salary for Skilled Worker Visas to Increase
The minimum salary required for obtaining a skilled worker visa will see a substantial hike, rising from £26,200 to £38,700 in the coming year. This move is part of the government’s strategy to limit the influx of foreign workers into the country.
2. Family Visa Restrictions
In addition to the salary adjustment, the government’s plan includes various measures such as banning health and care workers from bringing family dependents to the UK.
3. Shortage Occupation List Abuse
Companies will no longer be able to pay workers 20% less than the going rate for jobs on the shortage occupation list. This aims to ensure fair wages for both foreign and domestic workers.
Furthermore, the minimum income for family visas is set to increase from £26,200 to £38,700, effective from next spring. The government has also requested a review of the graduate visa route to prevent potential abuse.
4. Family Visa Income Threshold
The minimum income required for family visas will also be doubled to £38,700, further restricting family reunification for many foreign workers.
5. Graduate Visa Scrutiny
The government will review the graduate visa route to prevent potential “abuse,” hinting at stricter eligibility criteria.
Aim to Restrict Over 300,000 Entries
Home Secretary Cleverly asserted that the combined impact of these changes would prevent more than 300,000 people who arrived in the UK last year from being eligible under the revised immigration system. He emphasized the need for immigration policies to be fair, legal, and sustainable.
Criticism from Political Opponents
Labour’s shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, criticized the government’s migration plan, labelling it as “another example of the chaos at the heart of this government.”
Cooper stressed the importance of a comprehensive plan for training and recruiting British workers, acknowledging the need for a decrease in net migration.
Concerns from Healthcare and Social Care Sectors
Unison general secretary Christina McAnea expressed concern over the impact of these changes on the NHS and social care. She referred to the plans as “cruel” and warned of a potential disaster, particularly for sectors facing critical staff shortages.
As the government moves forward with these changes, the impact on the workforce, especially in the healthcare and social care sectors, remains a point of contention and concern among various stakeholders.