According to official Home Office forecasts, the number of foreign worker visas is expected to triple over the next five years as workers are hired for “skilled” positions in fields where there is a shortage, such as social care. It is projected that the number of “in-country” visas issued to foreign skilled workers will increase from 204,000 in 2023/24 to 584,000 in 2028/29.
This is in addition to the further 200,000 skilled worker visas that will be awarded to applicants entering the UK in 2028–2029; this figure is comparable to the 205,000 visas that will have been granted in 2023/24. In other words, there would be an overall increase to 784,000 foreign skilled workers, up from 409,000. This revelation will heighten the demands of Conservative backbenchers for actions to curtail net migration, which reached an historic level of 606,000 visas granted in the previous year.
Home Office ministers, Robert Jenrick and Suella Braverman, are advocating for measures such as raising the pay cap for foreign skilled workers from the present rate of £26,200 to approximately £34,500. This would bar immigrants from lower-paying positions and compel firms to fund employee training in the UK.
In addition, there are plans to lower the 120,000 foreign care workers that are employed annually and impose more limitations on immigrants who wish to bring their families to the UK.
The rise in “in-country” migrants applying for skilled worker visas is not explained by the Home Office study, which is an impact assessment on the increase in the health surcharge that all immigrants must pay. However, our assessment as immigration experts is that it may well be due to a record number of foreign students, labourers, and other foreign nationals who are switching to work visas after finishing their studies.
Watch this space for further updates that may significantly influence migration to the UK.
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