UK Implements Stricter Work Visa Rules: Salary Requirements Raised for Skilled Immigrants
UK Implements Stricter Work Visa Rules: Salary Requirements Raised for Skilled Immigrants

The UK government, under Rishi Sunak's administration, has fortified its visa policies by elevating the income threshold for skilled immigrants seeking to reside in the country. These adjustments come as part of a series of measures aimed at demonstrating the Conservative Party's commitment to curtailing net migration, particularly in anticipation of an impending general election.

Home Secretary James Cleverly revealed that aspiring migrants must now meet a salary benchmark of £38,700 ($48,900) to qualify for working visas, a substantial increase from the previous £26,000 requirement. The overarching objective is to diminish annual net immigration by 300,000 in forthcoming years, although a precise timeline remains unspecified.

In addition to the salary amendment, Cleverly outlined supplementary alterations, including the prohibition of family dependents accompanying overseas care workers and the cessation of a 20% salary concession that firms could previously offer compared to the prevailing wage for workers listed in the government’s scarcity occupation roster. This shift denotes a significant reversal, notably after the recent inclusion of bricklayers in the shortage occupation list to support the construction industry.

Sunak's government has encountered mounting pressure from Conservative MPs to devise a strategy addressing escalating immigration. This urgency follows the Office for National Statistics' disclosure of an estimated 672,000 more arrivals than departures in the UK in the year ending June. Immigration, along with the administration's perceived failure to curtail overall numbers, looms as a pivotal electoral concern, according to party strategists.

Among Cleverly's outlined plans are:

Enhanced regulation for care companies sponsoring visas
A 66% surge in the annual immigration health surcharge to £1,035
An elevated salary threshold of £38,700 to qualify for bringing a spouse to the UK
A review of the UK's graduate route to visas to prevent overstaying

Ministers have extensively deliberated on impeding asylum seekers arriving via small boats across the English Channel, aligning with one of the five pledges Sunak urged voters to evaluate him by. Nevertheless, the ONS data underscores the considerable transformation in legal migration post-Brexit in 2016, which the growing numbers signify as a broken promise for Tory MPs.

Since the UK's departure from the EU, the Conservative Party can no longer attribute high migration figures to the free movement within the bloc. Instead, a majority of migrants arrive under distinct government programs encompassing refugee visas for Ukrainians and Afghans, work visas for health and social care workers, occupations listed in shortages, and students.

The statistics for net migration until June were predominantly steered by non-EU nationals, with 768,000 more arrivals than departures—an escalation from 179,000 merely four years ago. In contrast, EU nationals exhibited a net emigration of 86,000.

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