The proposed immigration changes to both the salary thresholds and the health surcharge fee caused much confusion when they were announced on 4 December 2023. The government have now announced further amendments, and a possible implementation timeline. Suzanna Ghazal, Solicitor, reports on these further changes.
On 4 December 2023, the Home Secretary announced that there would be a significant increase in the minimum salary level threshold for skilled workers by 48% from £26,200 to £38,700 per year, starting from Spring 2024. We wrote about the anticipated changes back in December.
When the government initially announced the changes, it was unclear as to what the changes might mean for employers and also, whether the new threshold would apply to skilled worker visa holders who will need to renew their visas after the new threshold came into force.
On 21 December 2023 the government published further detail. We have now received confirmation from the government that:
The new salary threshold of £38,700 is set to be implemented on/just after April 2024;
those already in the skilled worker route will not be subject to the £38,700 salary threshold when they change employment, extend or settle;
care workers and senior care workers who are already in the UK prior to the change in rules will be able to continue to bring their dependants to the UK;
those coming to the UK on the Health and Social Care visa route will be exempted from the new salary threshold; and
the current shortage occupation list will remain in place until the new salary threshold is put in place.
Whilst there is a sigh of relief that the new salary threshold will not apply to those already on skilled worker visas in the UK, we anticipate that hospitality will be the one of the worst hit sectors for recruiting new talent from overseas. The government justifies the increase in salary threshold to ‘ensure that we do not undercut UK workers by using cheaper overseas labour and to prevent downwards pressure on wages’.
Increase in Immigration Health Surcharge Fees
It was initially anticipated that the immigration health surcharge was set to increase on 16 January 2024. However, it now looks as if the increase will not come into force until earliest 30/31 January 2024 or potentially early February 2024. The government is set to debate the increase on 10 January 2024, and so we will know more then.
It is anticipated that the increase will be as follows:
From £624 per year per person to £1,035 per year per person (adults).
From £470 per year per person to £776 per person for under 18-year-olds.
We recommend planning your recruitment and reviewing applications in the pipeline over the next few weeks to prioritise use of the lower salary threshold and immigration health surcharge fees.
Consistent with our policy when giving comment and advice on a non-specific basis, we cannot assume legal responsibility for the accuracy of any particular statement. In the case of specific problems we recommend that professional advice be sought.