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The government has recently introduced a comprehensive set of immigration measures, that will directly affect social care workers, skilled professionals, and their families. The goal is to achieve the most substantial cut to net migration in history, in response to the record-high migration levels, which reached 745,000 in 2022.

Net Migration is the difference between those entering and leaving the UK and is central to these adjustments. The Home Secretary James Cleverly’s set out a five-point plan to address the migration levels.

The purpose of these amendments is to help refine the immigration system, which involve alterations to visa regulations, minimum salary requirements, and spouse/partner visa criteria. 

Below is a detailed overview of the key changes:

The inclusion of carers in the UK’s immigration system was initially a temporary response to address labour shortages in the adult social care sector during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the latest measures aim to safeguard the NHS and social care systems while addressing concerns about non-compliance and worker exploitation within the adult social care sector, particularly among overseas workers in care occupations.

The new regulations dictate that social care workers will no longer be permitted to bring their dependants, including partners and children, on their visa. This adjustment underscores a shift in policy, signalling a more stringent approach to family reunification for individuals in the social care sector.

The baseline minimum salary for sponsorship under the Skilled Worker visa is set to experience a substantial rise, climbing from £26,200 to £38,700. It is noteworthy, however, that this adjustment does not apply to the Health and Care Worker visa, encompassing social care, nor does it affect education workers on national pay scales. This change aims to ensure that skilled professionals are remunerated at a higher level, potentially attracting more qualified individuals to the UK job market.

The shortage occupation list, designed to facilitate the recruitment of overseas workers in roles facing labour shortages, will undergo modifications. These changes aim to significantly reduce the number of jobs eligible for sponsorship below the baseline minimum salary. The primary objective is to align the list more closely with the overarching salary requirements, reflecting the government’s commitment to ensuring fair wages for sponsored workers.

Sponsoring someone for a spouse/partner visa will now require meeting a minimum income that will increase in stages. Starting from £18,600, this threshold will gradually rise to £29,000 and ultimately reach around £38,700. 

Earlier this year, the government announced measures to reduce the issuance of student visas. These include eliminating the right for international students to bring dependants, except for those enrolled in postgraduate research courses. Additionally, international students will no longer have the option to switch to work routes before completing their studies, with these changes taking effect for courses commencing in January 2024.

As these changes unfold in, there is a call to action for legal professionals to closely monitor the developments and advocate for fair immigration policies. The potential consequences for lower-income British citizens underscore the need for a nuanced approach that considers the broader impacts of these regulations.

Our lead Immigration Solicitor, Sue Chana is committed to providing informed legal guidance, advocating for clients affected by these changes. Call us today on 020 3096 5984.