In the last few months UK immigration has been at the forefront of political conversation.
The government has announced changes to the financial thresholds for spouse visas and an increase in the salary threshold for Skilled Workers. In addition to this, changes to the Immigration Health Surcharge, and the civil penalties for employers hiring illegal workers and landlords renting to illegal migrants, have been confirmed and will be implemented in the upcoming weeks (February 2024).
The Immigration Health Surcharge is a fee that visa applicants must pay to enable them free use of the NHS. This fee is currently set at £624 per adult, per year of the visa duration, and £470 per child, per year of the visa duration. The UK government announced an increase to the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) fee in October 2023. Following recent debate in the House of Commons on 15 January 2024, the increase was approved, meaning that it will be implemented exactly 21 days after this decision, as early as 6 February 2024. The increase in fee is set at 66% which means that adults will now face fees as high as £1,035 per year of their visa duration, and children will need to pay £776 per year of their visa duration.
Before the IHS increase comes into force, there is still time to submit your visa application, if possible. You must, however, consider that sponsored work visa applications can only be submitted 3 months before the intended start date, and an early extension application under this visa category could affect the number of years the visa holder has for eligibility to apply for indefinite leave to remain, as they will need to have held the visa for a period of 5 continuous years.
Civil Penalties to Employers and Landlords
In September last year the government announced their intentions to increase the civil penalties, which have now been confirmed to be implemented to right–to- work and right–to-rent checks taken on or after 13 February 2024. For more information on how to complete a right-to-work check, we refer you to our blog on Right to Work guidance.
The maximum civil penalty for employing an illegal worker will increase to £45,000 per illegal worker for the first breach, and up to £15,000 for each illegal worker thereafter. There will be a maximum of £60,000 penalty per illegal worker for repeat breaches (previously £20,000).
Landlords currently face up to £80 per lodger and up to £1,000 per occupier for their first breach and up to £500 and £3,000 respectively for repeat breaches. The increase in penalties will now mean that landlords can see fines of up to £5,000 per lodger and £10,000 per occupier for their first breach, and up to £10,000 per lodger and £20,000 per occupier for a repeat breach.
For more information on how to complete the right to rent check, please follow this link: https://www.gov.uk/prove-right-to-rent.
How Gherson can assist
Gherson’s Immigration Team are highly experienced in advising on UK visa matters. If you have any questions arising from this blog, please do not hesitate to contact us for advice, send us an e-mail, or, alternatively, follow us on X, Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn to stay-up-to-date.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please do not hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.