New measures announced to reduce net migration

New measures announced to reduce net migration
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Peninsula Team, Peninsula Team

(Last updated )

In response to recent figures showing increases in annual migration, the Home Secretary, James Cleverly, has announced several changes in an attempt to curb net migration. Many of these measures will impact employers, particularly in the hospitality and care industries, who rely heavily on foreign workers.

The changes that were announced are:

  • The minimum salary needed to get a skilled worker visa will increase from £26,200 to £38,700 from Spring 2024. This will not, however, apply to the health and social care visa routes.
  • The government will stop companies paying workers 20% less than the going rate for jobs on the Shortage Occupation List.
  • The Shortage Occupation List will be replaced with a new Immigration Salary List which will see the number of occupations on the list reduced.
  • Health and care workers will be banned from bringing their dependants to the UK.
  • Care firms in England will need to be regulated by the Care Quality Commission to sponsor visas.
  • For family visas the minimum income threshold will also increase to £38,700. As it is currently £18,600 this will be a significant increase. Whilst the government initially said that it would apply to those already living in the UK, the Prime Minister has since stated that the Home Office are looking at “transitional arrangements”.

Following the announcement of these changes, concerns for the care industry and hospitality sector in particular have been raised. With the changes, specifically that health and care workers will not be able to bring family dependants with them, there are fears that it could prevent people from wanting to come to work in the UK so recruitment issues could become further compounded.

It comes after the announcement of two other key changes that the government are planning. The annual Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) is payable by foreign nationals who are subject to immigration control, applying for temporary leave to enter the UK for longer than 6 months, who are not subject to an exemption. If Parliament approves the increase it is set to increase from £624 to £1,035 from 16 January.  

The other change previously announced by the government is to the civil penalty when an employer is found to have employed foreign workers unlawfully. From 22 January 2024, if it is given Parliamentary approval, the penalty will increase. Currently an employer can be fined up to £20,000 per worker who does not have the correct permission to carry out the work they are employed to do. It will increase to £45,000 per illegal worker for a first breach and up to £60,000 for repeated breaches. To gain a ‘statutory excuse’ against the civil penalty, employers need to ensure that they carry out right to work checks in accordance with the Home Office’s checking process. Also, when offers of employment are made, they should be conditional upon the completion of successful right to work checks. 

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