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Changes to UK Immigration Rules

14 March 2024

Significant Immigration Rule changes have been published today, including amendments to salary thresholds for the Skilled Worker and Global Business Mobility categories, the Shortage Occupation List, and financial thresholds for spouse and family visa routes.

The changes are being made to reduce net migration by encouraging businesses to invest in the resident workforce rather than over-relying on migration, while bringing salaries in line with the average full-time salary for eligible jobs. We summarise some of the most significant changes below.


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Salary thresholds

From 4 April 2024, the general salary threshold for Skilled Worker visa applications will increase from £26,200 to £38,700. The “going rate” thresholds for each occupation code (used on the Certificate of Sponsorship) have also increased in line with median salaries for such roles, often exceeding the general salary threshold.

Salary discounts, for example those relevant to PhD holders, those under 26 years of age, and other new entrant eligibility are being retained.

Those already on Skilled Worker visas will not have to meet the £38,700 threshold, even if they change sponsor or role, until 2030.

Those sponsored for Health and Care visas are exempt from the new salary requirements and must meet a minimum threshold of £29,000 instead. Going rates for the various Health and Care visa roles have also been updated.

Minimum salary thresholds for Global Business Mobility visa categories have also been increased in line with these changes.

  • Senior or Specialist workers must now be paid a minimum of £48,500 or the going rate for their occupation, whichever is higher; and
  • Graduate Trainees must receive £25,410, or 70% of the going rate for their occupation.


Changes to occupation codes

Occupation code classification will also be updated from 4 April. Many codes have been classified under new numbers.

Changes in occupation code classification will also impact individuals on Health and Care visas, where only a reduced. number of new codes will qualify for this visa category. For example, those wishing to practice in the UK as a General medical practitioner may no longer qualify for this visa category.

Transitional arrangements are in place for those currently sponsored on existing occupation codes, to enable individuals to extend their stay or settle in the UK.


Immigration Salary List

Last year the Migration Advisory Committee published a review of the Shortage Occupation List. Their recommendations are being implemented on 4 April 2024. A full assessment of the new recommendations is due at the end of 2024. The Shortage Occupation List has been rebranded as the Immigration Salary List.

The list contains a significantly reduced number of occupations. Those on the list benefit from reduced fees and lower salary thresholds. Individuals currently sponsored on shortage occupation codes should ensure that their salary meets the minimum thresholds before their next application.


Supplementary employment

As a result of the reduction in occupations on the list, supplementary employment conditions have been updated so that additional work can be undertaken where the work:

  • is in a job on the Immigration Salary List, or
  • is the same profession and at the same level as the job they are sponsored to do, or
  • is in any of the new occupation codes


Family route visas

From the 11 April, those applying for visas for spouses and children of those who are British nationals or settled in the UK will have to meet a higher financial requirement.

Where applicants rely on salary, a gross annual income of at least £29,000 will be required. This amount will no longer change based on how many children are making applications as part of the family.

Transitional arrangements for those already in the UK with permission as a partner or child on the 5-year route to settlement, or as a fiancé or proposed civil partner are in place.  Gross annual income remains £18,600 or above (plus additional funds for each child). Where savings are relied on, the minimum amount remains £62,500.


Other changes

Some additional notable changes include:

  • Stepchildren can now apply to join or stay with their parents/step-parent.
  • Appendix Adoption will provide clarity on what adoption protocols are accepted by the Home Office and which routes exist for adopted/soon to be adopted children.
  • Those applying for settlement having spent 10 years in the UK will need to have held their current permission for 12 months immediately before their application.
  • Those applying on the 10-year route cannot count time spent in the Channel Islands or Isle of Man towards their continuous residence.
  • Those on BN(O) visas will now be given up to an additional 28 days permission when they extend their visa to ensure they meet the 5 year period for settlement. Adult Dependent Relatives of those on BN(O) routes can apply later if their circumstances change and they are no longer able to live independently. Their permission will not need to end on the same date as their family member, they can be given the full length of permission they applied for. This rule also exists for partners applying later.


Do not hesitate to contact your Magrath Sheldrick representative for further information and guidance.


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