As we step into 2024, the United Kingdom is ushering in significant changes to its immigration policies, with the aim of shaping a more controlled and targeted approach to immigration. From alterations in sponsored worker criteria to adjustments in visa categories, these changes are poised to impact various facets of immigration. In this blog post, we will delve into the key modifications set to take effect in the coming months.
Sponsored Workers: Shifting Salary Landscapes
The UK government is set to implement substantial alterations to salary requirements for sponsored workers, signalling a move to curtail net migration. The proposed minimum salary of £38,700 is poised to reshape the skilled worker landscape, affecting industries with talent shortages, particularly in sectors like hospitality and construction. The removal of the salary “discount” for shortage roles adds another layer of complexity. As the end of the first quarter of 2024 approaches, there is anticipation for transitional arrangements for existing skilled workers.
Graduate Visa: Reform on the Horizon
The Home Office’s commissioning of the Migration Advisory Committee to reconsider policy options for the graduate visa route hints at imminent reforms. The objective is to ensure better support for graduates on their journey to high-quality jobs whilst preventing abuse of the system. Whether this leads to a potential closure of this route, similar to its predecessor – the Post Study Worker visa – remains to be seen.
Students: Stricter Regulations on Dependants
Starting from 1 January 2024, stringent requirements for students seeking to switch their UK leave to the skilled worker visa route with their dependants has come into effect. Notably, international students, unless enrolled in a PhD or postgraduate research program, will no longer be able to bring their dependent partners or children to the UK. This shift aims to streamline the skilled worker pathway and potentially contribute to the broader immigration strategy.
Spouses of British or Settled Nationals: Adjusting Income Thresholds
A significant adjustment in the income requirement for British nationals sponsoring spouses is on the horizon. The current £18,600 threshold (for those with no children) may increase substantially to £38,700, with a phased transition over the next 12 months. The additional income requirement for sponsoring children remains unclear, posing questions about the implications for extension applications for families that are already under this route.
ETA Visa Waiver Programme: Roll out Continues
The Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) visa waiver programme, initially rolled out for visitors from the EU and other visa-exempt countries, will continue expanding in 2024. The first users, Qatari nationals, have experienced quick decisions, but concerns linger regarding potential discrepancies and misjudgements during the pre-boarding ETA permissions checks. The role of airlines and ground staff in enforcing these changes adds an additional layer of complexity to the evolving immigration landscape.
As the UK navigates through these immigration changes in 2024, individuals, businesses and stakeholders are advised to stay informed and adapt to the evolving landscape. The reshaping of sponsored worker criteria, graduate visa reforms, stricter regulations for students, adjustments for spouses of British nationals, and the ongoing roll out of the ETA visa waiver programme collectively reflect a strategic shift in the UK’s approach to immigration. Keeping abreast of these developments will be crucial for those impacted by or involved in the UK immigration processes.
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.