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2024 Visa Rules: UK Net Immigration Policy Reforms

net immigration


On 4th December 2023, the UK government, led by the Prime Minister and Home Secretary, revealed a comprehensive plan to reform immigration policies. This initiative aims to significantly reduce net migration and address immigration abuse. The new regulations, coupled with restrictions on student dependants, are projected to reduce eligibility for about 300,000 individuals under the previous year’s criteria.

Key Measures of the Immigration Policy Overhaul

  1. Restrictions on Overseas Care Workers: The policy prohibits overseas care workers from bringing dependants and mandates that social care firms in England sponsoring care worker visas must be regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
  2. Skilled Worker Visa Threshold Increase: The minimum earnings threshold for Skilled Worker visas will rise from £26,200 to £38,700. Additionally, the ‘going rate’ thresholds for individual occupations will align with the median full-time wages for equivalent roles in 2023.
  3. Health and Social Care Visa Exemptions: Those applying under the Health and Social Care Visa route will be exempt from the £38,700 salary threshold, ensuring the continuous influx of essential healthcare workers for the UK’s care sector and NHS. This exemption also applies to education workers on national pay-scale occupations.
  4. Introduction of the Immigration Salary List (ISL): The Shortage Occupation List (SOL) will transform into the ISL, removing the 20% salary discount for shortage occupations. The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) will reassess the list, considering the increased salary thresholds.
  5. Incremental Increase in Family Visa Minimum Income: The government plans to align the family visa minimum income requirement with the new Skilled Worker threshold of £38,700, to be implemented in stages starting in Spring 2024.
  6. Graduate Route Review: The MAC will conduct a comprehensive review of the Graduate visa route to ensure its alignment with the UK’s educational integrity and national interests.

Impact and Implementation Timeline

  • The reforms are set to be implemented progressively, with full details and transitional provisions to be announced in the coming year.
  • Existing care workers and senior care workers will retain their right to remain with their dependants, including visa extensions and changes of employer within specified SOC codes.
  • The salary threshold for Skilled Worker visas will see a significant increase in Spring 2024, although those already in the route prior to the changes will be exempt from the new requirements when changing employers, extending, or settling in the UK.

Government’s Strategy and Rationale

The government’s approach emphasizes the need to prioritize the domestic workforce and reduce dependency on overseas labor. By increasing salary thresholds and restructuring visa requirements, the policy aims to encourage businesses to invest in UK talent and reduce pressure on public services. The review of the Graduate visa route and adjustments to the family visa requirements are part of this comprehensive strategy to manage net migration effectively.

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