Key Changes to UK Immigration Rules for 2024 What You Need to Know

The UK Home Office is implementing significant changes to its immigration rules in Spring 2024. These alterations aim to reshape the immigration framework, impacting individuals, businesses, and educational institutions.  Understanding these updates is crucial for anyone considering entering the UK for work, study, or family purposes.

Increased Minimum Income Thresholds

A key change involves the introduction of stricter minimum income requirements for specific visa categories.

  • Skilled Worker Visa: The minimum salary threshold for the Skilled Worker visa will jump from £26,200 to £38,700 per year. However, there are exemptions:
    • Existing Skilled Worker visa holders are exempt when changing sponsors, extending their visas, or applying for settlement. Their salary only needs to show growth at the rate of resident workers.

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    • Healthcare workers are also exempt from the increased minimum salary.

Professional UK immigration solicitors advise individuals applying for a Skilled Worker visa with a salary below the new threshold to explore alternative immigration routes that might be more suitable. These could include the Youth Mobility Scheme, Global Talent Visa, or Innovator Visa, depending on their circumstances.

  • Family Visa: The minimum income requirement for sponsoring a spouse or partner under the family visa route will also increase in stages:
    • Spring 2024: The minimum income will rise from £18,600 to £29,000 per year.
    • Later in 2024: It will further increase to £34,500 per year.
    • Spring 2025: The final increase will bring the minimum income requirement to £38,700 per year, aligning it with the Skilled Worker visa threshold.

Individuals considering applying for a spouse or partner visa are encouraged to submit their applications as soon as possible in the new year, before the new minimum income thresholds come into effect. This will allow them to benefit from the current lower requirement of £18,600.  Professional UK immigration solicitors can guide applicants through the process and ensure their applications meet all the necessary criteria.

Changes to the Shortage Occupation List and Student Visas

The existing Shortage Occupation List will be renamed the “Immigration Salary List.” This list identifies occupations where there is a lack of skilled workers in the UK.

The Graduate visa route, which allows international graduates of UK universities to stay and work in the UK for two years after graduation, will be reviewed by the Migration Advisory Committee. This review is expected to be completed by late 2024. In the meantime, anyone currently in the UK on the student route should apply for a Graduate visa as soon as their university confirms their course completion in 2024.

A significant change impacting international students is the restriction on bringing dependents. From January 1st, 2024, most international students are no longer able to bring dependents with them to the UK. Exceptions exist for students on postgraduate research courses and courses with government-funded scholarships. However, the Home Office has announced it will work with universities to design an alternative approach for students at “world-leading universities” to allow them to bring dependents. Details regarding this alternative approach and which universities qualify are yet to be announced.  Students should monitor government and university updates for further information.

Care Workers and Increased Immigration Health Surcharge

Existing care workers and senior care workers already in the UK on the care worker route can continue to reside with their dependents. They can do so even when extending their visas, changing employers within the same occupation code, or applying for settlement. However, new care workers entering the UK under this route will not be able to bring dependents unless sponsored by a non-regulated activity provider.

The immigration health surcharge, a fee paid by most immigrants to access the National Health Service (NHS), is also set to increase significantly. The current charge of £640 per year will rise to £1,035 per year. The effective date for this increase is expected to be by January 31, 2024.

Stricter Sponsor License Audits and The Importance of Compliance

Businesses sponsoring migrant workers should be aware of increased scrutiny from the Home Office. The Home Office is intensifying its audit activity, conducting more remote audits with little or no warning. This emphasizes the importance of ensuring all compliance and Right to Work processes are in order. Businesses that sponsor migrant workers should consider consulting with professional UK immigration solicitors to ensure their sponsor licenses are up-to-date and they are adhering to all the latest regulations.

Conclusion: Staying Informed and Seeking Professional Guidance

The UK immigration landscape in 2024 is undergoing significant transformations. These changes can be complex and navigating them independently can be challenging. Individuals, businesses, and educational institutions are all advised to stay informed and proactive in their responses.


Consult with a Professional UK immigration solicitor

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