In a recent announcement, the government unveiled a plan aimed at achieving the most significant reduction in net migration ever and addressing issues of abuse within the immigration system. The Home Secretary, James Cleverly, outlined the plan, emphasizing its impact on limiting migration levels and enhancing the integrity of the UK health service.

The comprehensive package includes measures to restrict the influx of dependents into the UK, raise minimum salaries for overseas workers and sponsors, and combat exploitation within the immigration system.

The Health and Care Worker visa will undergo tightening, with restrictions on overseas care workers bringing dependents to the UK. Care providers in England will now only be able to sponsor migrant workers engaged in activities regulated by the Care Quality Commission.

Effective from the upcoming spring, the government plans to raise the earning threshold for overseas workers by nearly 50%, from £26,200 to £38,700. Simultaneously, the minimum income required for British citizens and settled individuals sponsoring family members will also increase. These adjustments aim to encourage businesses to prioritize British talent and align salaries with industry averages.

To counter cut-price labour from overseas, the government will eliminate the 20% salary discount for shortage occupations and introduce an Immigration Salary List. The list will be reviewed by the Migration Advisory Committee to align with increased salary thresholds, reducing the number of occupations eligible.

Additionally, the Migration Advisory Committee will review the Graduate visa route to prevent abuse and ensure it aligns with the UK’s best interests. These measures complement the government’s efforts to curb the rise in students bringing dependents to the UK.

The government attributes the feasibility of these measures to its Back to Work Plan, which prioritizes growing the domestic workforce. Home Secretary James Cleverly stressed the need for action, asserting that the plan is designed to address high net migration, protect British workers, and alleviate strain on public services.

In conjunction with measures to reduce migration, the government has decided to increase the annual Immigration Health Surcharge from £624 to £1,035, aiming for a fair financial contribution from migrants to support public services, including the NHS.

Cleverly acknowledges the high proportion of visas issued to workers and their dependents and underscores the importance of addressing concerns about non-compliance and exploitation in the adult social care sector. These measures come in response to the temporary inclusion of carers in the immigration system to meet urgent labour shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lastly, the government’s earlier measures to reduce student visas will come into force in January 2024, restricting the rights of international students to bring dependents and limiting their ability to switch to work routes before completing their studies.

Source: UK Home Office


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