UK raises visa salary requirements to curb immigration

Wednesday 17th April 2024 09:32 EDT

The United Kingdom has introduced substantial revisions to its visa policies aimed at reducing migration levels. Notably, there have been considerable increases in salary thresholds across various visa categories. These changes have resulted in significantly higher minimum income requirements for sponsoring family member visas, as well as more stringent criteria for individuals seeking employment in the UK.

As of April 11, 2024, a job offer must come with a salary of at least £38,700, representing a nearly 50% increase from the previous £26,200 minimum.

Although certain professions, notably in health and social care, are exempt from these thresholds, there are concerns about potential labour shortages in specific sectors and their consequences. The changes are anticipated to impact Indian migrants who annually move to the European nation. Data from the Office for National Statistics indicates that India ranks highest in the number of migrants entering the UK each year, followed by Nigeria and China.

Significant changes have been made to the regulations governing family visas. Applicants now need to prove English proficiency and meet a minimum income threshold. Initially set to increase to £38,700, the threshold was later adjusted to £29,000 amid concerns about potential family separations.

The income threshold is anticipated to rise gradually to £34,500 and eventually to £38,700 by early 2025. The Home Office has clarified that individuals renewing existing family visas are not required to meet the new earnings threshold. According to official statistics, 82,395 family-related visas were issued in the year up to September 2023.

At the heart of the UK's immigration system is the points-based system (PBS), which assigns points based on factors like job offers, language proficiency, and educational qualifications. To qualify for a skilled worker visa, applicants must accrue 70 points, with salary being a critical component in this calculation. Similar points are allocated for individuals with minimum or higher skill levels.

The standard fee for a skilled visa is usually between £719 and £1,500. Additionally, visa applicants are subject to healthcare surcharges, with fees witnessing an uptick from £624 to £1035 recently.

The shortage occupation list aims to fill critical vacancies in key sectors by allowing lower salary thresholds and facilitating visa acquisition for eligible individuals. Employers are permitted to hire foreign labour for 80% of the typical "going rate" for these roles. However, recent rule changes will impact individuals working in jobs listed on the shortage occupation list.

Between January and September 2023, the government issued a total of 486,107 study visas, with a significant number granted to Indian and Chinese nationals. Postgraduate students were previously allowed to apply for visas for dependents such as spouses, partners, and children under 18. However, starting from January 2024, postgraduate students can only bring dependents if their course is designated as a research program. Additionally, students who have completed their degrees can now stay in the UK for two years (three years for doctoral degree holders) to work under a graduate visa.

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