The Impact of the UK Immigration Reforms on Work and Study visas: New Data Report

14 May 2024, 06 mins ago

New data released by the Home Office has highlighted the initial impact of recent immigration policy changes as the volume of applications for UK work and study visas has dropped.

To summarise, the Government has implemented significant measures aimed at reducing net migration, which reached a peak of 745,000 migrants in 2022. These measures include various alterations to the Immigration Rules affecting work, study, and family visa routes, among others.

Key changes involve raising salary thresholds for Skilled Workers and sponsors of spouses or partners coming to the UK, replacing the Shortage Occupation List with a new Immigration Salary List, and tightening regulations regarding dependants under certain visa categories.

In order to assess the effects of these policy adjustments, the Home Office plans to regularly publish statistics on entry clearance visa applications until the end of 2024. The most recent monthly data, released on 30 April 2024, indicates a notable decrease in entry clearance applications under specific visa routes, though it is still too early to gauge the full scale of the impact.

For instance, there has been an 80% decline in the number of dependants accompanying students to the UK, primarily due to stricter regulations on student visas introduced in January. These changes prevent most international students from bringing family members, except for those enrolled in certain postgraduate research programmes. Additionally, students can no longer switch to a work visa before completing their studies, which has also contributed to the reduction in visa applications.

Similarly, there has been an 83% decrease in Health and Care Worker visa applications, attributed to the Government’s decision to prohibit care workers from bringing dependants under this route as part of the efforts to curb net migration. Although this policy has only been in effect since March 2024, its impact is already evident from the significant drop in overseas care worker applications.

Despite criticism from the higher education sector and organisations supporting migrant workers, the Government defends these policies as necessary to address social care needs and ensure compliance with the immigration rules. As enforcement efforts intensify, sponsors of skilled workers and students are advised to stay informed and compliant with immigration regulations to avoid legal repercussions.

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