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Significant changes to the skilled worker visa

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By Nick Chronias


Published 07 December 2023

The facts

The government has announced significant changes to the Skilled Worker visa route as from Spring 2024 which are likely to have a real impact on the ability to recruit overseas workers. These are part of a series of measures to bring down UK net migration.

James Cleverly, the Home Secretary, announced on 3 December 2023 that the minimum annual salary under the Skilled Worker route would be increased from £26,200 to £38,700.

However, Mr. Cleverly added that the increase would not apply to the 'Health and Care Worker visa'.

The increase in minimum salary is likely to have a significant detrimental impact on recruitment of overseas workers. It is estimated that in certain industries, such as catering, close to 90% of current sponsored migrants will no longer be eligible. The changes will be of particular importance to public bodies, charities and not-for-profit organisations. They are also likely to affect graduate recruitment and trainee positions in all sectors, where salaries tend to be lower.

As yet there is no date for the changes but the government has said the changes will be made in the spring.

Although the changes will not affect existing hires, it is unclear whether the new rules will apply to extension applications (renewals). A spokesperson for the Prime Minister has said that similar changes to the 'partner visa', where the minimum income is being increased from £18,600 to £38,700, will apply to extensions. The new rules are highly likely to apply to a change of role where a new visa application for existing employees is required.

In addition, the 'shortage occupation list', in which specified roles can be paid 20% less than the going rate, is to be scrapped.

What this means for employers

No doubt all of this will be of considerable concern for employers looking to bring in global talent. It remains to be seen whether any of the changes will be challenged in the courts.

Practically, employers who will be affected by the changes should consider bringing forward any overseas recruitment plans where they can

There are certainly major changes ahead and employers are advised to keep a close eye on any further announcements.

We will provide further information as and when it becomes available.

If you would like to discuss these changes or any other immigration issue, please contact the co-author of this article, Allan Briddock, on abriddock@dacbeachcroft.com.