Recent Statement of Changes to the UK Immigration Rules

22nd March 2024

A new statement of changes to the immigration rules has now been published.

The UK’s new Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules, published in March 2024, has introduced updated salary requirements for various visa categories. This blog takes a detailed look at the changes and how they may impact those looking to take advantage of the specific immigration routes.

  • The general salary threshold for Skilled Workers has been raised from £26,200 to £38,700.
  • The Health and Care Worker minimum salary will rise from £26,200 to £29,000 (this requirement will exclude most Care Workers and Senior Care Workers).
  • The minimum salary for Non-Health and Care Worker occupations on the Immigration Salary List (ISL) will be raised to £30,960.
  • The Health and Care Worker minimum salary will rise to £23,200 from £20,960.
  • The minimum income requirement under the partner routes will increase to £29,000, with a further rise to £38,700 planned for early 2025.


Home Office statement of changes (1)

Changes to the Skilled Worker Route

General Salary Threshold

Effective from 4 April 2024, the general salary threshold for Skilled Workers has been raised from £26,200 to a notable £38,700. This adjustment is based on the median UK earnings in eligible occupations, a shift from the previous 25th percentile benchmark. At the same time, ‘going rates’ for specific jobs have also seen an elevation from the 25th percentile to the median, relying on the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) pay data.

Health and Care Worker Visa

The new regulations coming into force on the 4 April will impact Health and Care Workers, alongside other specific occupations where going rates are determined by national pay scales. Unlike other roles under the Skilled Worker route, which now adhere to median salary benchmarks, these specific roles are exempt. Their salary floor will rise from £26,200 to £29,000, in alignment with the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures. However, many roles, including Care Workers and Senior Care Workers, will also benefit from reduced salaries under the new Immigration Salary List provisions (see below).

Introduction of the new Immigration Salary List (ISL)

The recent Statement of Changes in the UK Immigration Rules has introduced a pivotal modification known as the Immigration Salary List (ISL), set to replace the existing Shortage Occupation List. This new framework, effective from 11 April, aims to streamline the approach towards managing salary thresholds for specific occupations that are critical to filling labour market gaps in the UK.

For non-health and care worker occupations on the ISL, the minimum salary will be raised to £30,960, a significant increase from the previous £20,960. Health and care worker roles will also see an increase, with their minimum salary rising to £23,200 from £20,960. This adjustment in salary thresholds aims to reflect the economic value and demand for these roles while ensuring that the UK remains an attractive destination for international talent.

Update of the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code system

The Statement of Changes introduces the new Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) 2020 codes. This change signifies a significant shift in how occupations are classified and has implications for employers and international workers alike.

For immigration purposes, the SOC codes play a crucial role in the visa application process. They are used to determine the appropriate skill level of a job and ensure that the role meets the eligibility criteria for various immigration routes, such as the Skilled Worker route, the Scale-up route, and the Global Business Mobility routes.
For employers, the introduction of the new SOC 2020 codes means a reassessment of the roles they intend to fill with international talent. This might necessitate a review of existing roles and possibly reclassification to comply with the new standards.

Implications for UK Businesses

For businesses reliant on international talent, these adjustments necessitate a recalibration of recruitment strategies and financial planning. The heightened salary thresholds mean that employers must now offer more competitive packages to meet immigration requirements, although this is mitigated somewhat by the fact that UK salaries generally will be uplifted by the National Minimum Wage (NMW) increase coming into force on 01 April 2024.

Impact on Skilled Workers

From the perspective of international skilled workers, these changes are double-edged. On one hand, they promise higher minimum salary offers, potentially enhancing the attractiveness of the UK as a work destination. On the other hand, they could limit opportunities for those whose roles might not command the increased threshold salaries, possibly narrowing the pool of eligible candidates for the Skilled Worker route.

Global Business Mobility and other work routes

The recent changes to the UK immigration rules have also introduced new salary requirements for other visa categories, including the Senior or Specialist Worker (Global Business Mobility), Graduate Trainee (Global Business Mobility), and Scale-up.

  • For the Senior or Specialist Worker (Global Business Mobility) category, the minimum salary threshold has been increased to £48,500 per year. This category allows overseas businesses to temporarily assign senior managers or specialist employees to work in their UK branches.
  • The general salary threshold for the Graduate Trainee route (Global Business Mobility) has been increased from £24,220 to £25,410. This route is for those coming to or staying in the UK as part of a structured graduate training program leading to a managerial or specialist role within an international business.
  • The general salary threshold for the Scale-up route has been increased from £34,600 to £36,300. The Scale-up route is part of the UK’s strategy to support the growth of businesses with high potential by making it easier for them to attract international talent. This route caters to skilled individuals who have a job offer from a UK Scale-up sponsor, allowing them to contribute to the UK’s economic growth and innovation.

Navigating the Changes

Both businesses and potential employees need to be aware of these changes to make informed decisions. This change is part of the government’s broader strategy to reform immigration rules and ensure that the salary thresholds reflect current economic conditions and the cost of living in the UK

Increase to the minimum income requirement under the partner routes

The recent Statement of Changes has ushered in a significant shift for those looking to apply under the UK’s partner routes. The rules introduce an increase in the minimum income requirement for British or settled persons wishing to bring their partner to the UK. These changes, set to come into effect in April 2024, have raised concerns and discussions about its potential impact on individuals and families planning to live together in the UK.

The minimum income requirement, which previously stood at £18,600, will see an initial increase to £29,000 in the spring of 2024, with a further rise to £38,700 planned for early 2025. This phased increase marks a significant escalation from the current threshold and aims to ensure that incoming partners are adequately supported without recourse to public funds.

Implications for Applicants

This change will place a considerable financial burden on the UK partner, potentially barring a significant portion of the population from bringing their partners to the UK. The revised threshold exceeds the median income for many regions and sectors, raising concerns about fairness and accessibility. Furthermore, this change could disproportionately affect certain demographics, including younger couples, part-time workers, and those in lower-paying sectors.

Navigating the Changes

Prospective applicants are encouraged to review their financial planning and consider the timing of their applications. Those close to the current threshold might find it advantageous to apply before the new requirements take effect. Legal advice or consultation with immigration experts could provide pathways or alternatives worth exploring for those affected by the changes.

Need to know more?

These changes highlight the importance of compliance with UK immigration laws and the need for individuals and businesses to stay updated on the latest requirements to avoid potential legal and operational challenges.

For a deeper understanding of how these changes may affect your business and to explore strategic responses, it’s advisable to consult with immigration law experts or legal advisors specialising in UK immigration.

If you have any questions about the changes and you would like to speak to an immigration advisor contact us.

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