Mastering Immigration Law Subscription Updates March 2024

Mastering Immigration Law Subscription Updates March 2024

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) has introduced a series of significant changes to the immigration system in April 2024, with a particular focus on financial requirements. These updates aim to align the UK’s immigration policies with the government’s goals of reducing net migration and fostering a high-wage, high-productivity economy.  The changes have directly impacted various immigration categories, including the Minimum Income Requirement for families, salary thresholds for Skilled Worker visas, and the Seasonal Worker visa to name a few.
The Minimum Income Requirement (MIR) for families was the first to be impacted. Before 11 April 2024, successful applicants were required to meet specific financial criteria, including a gross annual income of at least £18,600, with additional amounts for children, capped at a target income of £29,000. Dependent children were defined based on age, immigration status, and right of entry.

As part of the Home Secretary’s Plans to Cut Net Migration, the new rules significantly increase the MIR in a three-stage process. From 11 April 2024, the minimum income has been raised to £29,000, matching the 25th percentile of earnings for jobs eligible for Skilled Worker visas. The new regime features a higher earnings target, a correspondingly higher savings target, and the removal of the separate child element in the financial requirement. These changes aim to reduce net migration and support the government’s vision of a high-wage, high-productivity, and high-skill economy.

The increasing MIR is likely to compel many migrants to make a case under exceptional regimes and has been criticised for its disproportionate impact on certain regions and demographics. The Migration Observatory’s “Family Fortunes” report indicates that over 70% of employees may not be able to satisfy the new MIR, with women being more likely to fall short due to caring responsibilities. As the UK progresses towards a high-wage, high-skill economy, it is essential to consider the potential ramifications of these changes on families and ensure that the immigration system remains equitable and accessible to all.

The Skilled Worker route has seen some radical changes in terms of new options and generally higher salary targets, new Immigration Salary List and the new Appendix Skilled Occupations

The United Kingdom’s immigration system includes a list of shortage occupations, known as Appendix Shortage Occupation, which allows employers to sponsor workers in these roles even if they are paid only 80% of the going rate salary. This regime is replaced by the Immigration Salary List in Spring 2024 to reduce the risk of undercutting the earnings of settled workers. The Appendix Shortage Occupation list is divided into columns, indicating which roles are recognised as shortage occupations in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, and can be varied over time.

Some occupation codes on the shortage occupation list have additional criteria, such as specific jobs, experience, salary, and/or other requirements, or the job must be based in a particular nation of the UK. Chefs (SOC 5434) serve as a good example of diverse additional criteria, requiring a minimum salary, relevant experience, and specific roles within an establishment.

The application fee for shortage occupations is lower than for other roles, but if the role does not qualify, a top-up fee will be required before the application is considered under other Options, and a refund should be given if the higher fee was paid but the application was granted under the shortage occupation category.

A new regime is in place for Health and Care workers.  As of 11 March 2024, care workers and senior care workers migrating to the UK are no longer permitted to bring dependents, and only Care Quality Commission (CQC) registered providers in England can sponsor applicants for the Health and Care Visa. However, all other occupation codes remain unaffected and can continue to bring dependents as per the normal process. The Health and Care worker visa has been exempted from the recent changes to the minimum salary threshold for Skilled Worker visa holders, requiring applicants to meet either £23,200 or the occupation-specific threshold, whichever is higher.

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has released its ‘rapid review’ of the new Immigration Salary List (ISL), which is set to replace the current Shortage Occupation List (SOL). The MAC has recommended that certain occupation codes, including laboratory technicians, pharmaceutical technicians, care workers, home carers, and senior care workers, remain on the ISL due to the ‘considerable public benefit’ they provide to the UK’s health and social care sector. This ensures that the UK continues to attract and retain skilled professionals in this vital sector.

The CoS definition has been modified as a part of these changes.  Before submitting a Skilled Worker visa application, the sponsor must provide the applicant with a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS). The CoS contains details of the role offered to the applicant in the UK.

The Home Office has updated the ‘Workers and Temporary Workers: sponsor a skilled worker’ guidance for sponsors on 11 March 2024, providing further clarity on the application process for Defined Certificates of Sponsorship (DCoS) and the information sponsors must submit, most notably making it mandatory to include the total weekly working hours of the worker to help the Home Office confirm that the stated salary meets the Skilled Worker salary requirements.

New salaries and occupations for Appendix Scale-Up have been rolled out. The Scale-up visa is subject to a smaller salary threshold increase since 4 April, rising from £34,600 to £36,300. This route’s going rate remains aligned with the 25th percentile, as outlined in Table 2 of the updated Immigration Rules Appendix Skilled Occupations.

The Seasonal Worker route has commenced to operate in Spring 2024 with a total annual allocation of 47,000 spots, distributed across two primary sectors. The lion’s share, amounting to 45,000 openings, will be designated for the horticulture industry. Meanwhile, the poultry production sector will be granted a smaller portion of 2,000 positions to fill its labour requirements.

There is a slight relief for employer as the updated Guidance on hybrid working has been adjusted. If a sponsored worker now adopts a hybrid working arrangement, sponsors are no longer required to notify the UKVI. However, sponsors must still inform the UKVI of any modifications to the worker’s primary office location or the addition of new client sites, if relevant. It is crucial for sponsors to keep appropriate records detailing the working patterns of their sponsored employees.

Amongst everything else, an exciting news is the launch of a new visa scheme in 2024 called the Future Technology Research and Innovation (FTRI) Government Authorised Exchange (GAE) scheme. This initiative enables UK businesses to sponsor international researchers and research interns for short-term work, research, or training placements within the country, with the aim of attracting global talent to contribute to the nation’s technological advancement.

To be eligible as a sponsor under the FTRI GAE scheme, businesses must be actively involved in research and/or innovation in one of the critical technologies specified in the UK’s Science & Technology Framework, such as artificial intelligence (AI), engineering biology, future telecommunications, quantum technologies, and semiconductors. Furthermore, participating businesses must hold an A-rated Skilled Worker licence and have a current or previous record of receiving funding from Innovate UK.

A very important reminder that the UKVI is transitioning from physical documents to digital records of immigration status, requiring individuals to create a UKVI account to access their e-Visa and share information about their immigration status and conditions, such as the right to work or rent in the UK, using the view and prove service, with e-Visas already being used across routes like the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) and most physical documents, including biometric residence permits or cards (BRPs or BRCs), set to be phased out by the end of 2024.

On the personal immigration side, significant changes to the long residence rules  have been made since April 2024 through Appendix Long Residence, which replaced the previous provisions in Part 7 of the Immigration Rules. The new rules clarify eligibility requirements for settlement, stating that applicants must have spent 10 years lawfully in the UK with permission, exemption from immigration control, or exercising EEA rights. The rules also specify periods that do not count towards the qualifying period, including time on immigration bail, temporary admission, or overstaying.

A key change is the introduction of LR 11.3, which requires applicants to have had permission on their current route for at least 12 months or have been exempt from immigration control in the 12 months before the application date. However, this rule does not apply to those granted permission before 11 April 2024. These changes will impact future applicants who have recently switched immigration categories and wish to apply for settlement based on long residence.

The UK immigration system is currently undergoing significant transformations, and the subjects addressed in this article represent just a fraction of the overall changes. As immigration advisors, it is our responsibility to remain vigilant and proactively prepare for the forthcoming developments. By thoroughly grasping the evolving laws and policies, we will be well-positioned to guide our clients through the intricate labyrinth of immigration with precision and empathy.

At HJT Training, our mission is to foster a cohesive and well-informed immigration community, ensuring that we remain alert and deeply committed to the individuals we serve. Together, we will tackle these challenges head-on, maintaining the highest standards of professionalism and compassion throughout the process.

Let’s unfold the summer season 2024 with success!


These and many more are now included in Mastering Immigration Law. A comprehensive list of all the updates are listed for our subscribers reference under the Updates & Documentation module. Please log in to access. Index also updated.

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