Net Migration Measures – 2024

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Net Migration Measures – 2024

What does it mean for Healthcare Workers?

As the country was preparing for the festive season end of last year, the Home Secretary announced a plan to significantly reduce net migration levels to the United Kingdom and prevent abuse of the Immigration system. As a reference, the figures provided on the official websites estimate that around 300,000 people who came to the UK in 2023 would not be able to migrate to the UK under the new rules.

Since December 4th 2023, there has been considerable anxiety surrounding the latest changes announced by the Home Secretary. This is to be expected as the announcement in itself has provided only vague requirements for the rules and does not provide an in-depth narrative of what the new rules will entail, who will qualify under the new rules and when they will come to effect. Since the December announcement, the Home Office has now provided some further clarification.

Here's what we know about the upcoming changes:

Dependants of Care Workers

Under the new rules, Health Care visa workers will not be able to bring their dependants to the UK on their Skilled Worker visas. This will come into effect on 11 March 2024 and this ban will also apply to individuals already in the UK and are applying to switch to a Health Care work visa on or after 11 March 2024. This will also impact those who are switching but already have dependants with them in the UK under their current other visa category.

CQC Registration

Under the new rules, all adult social care firms in England must be registered with the Care Quality Commission if they wish to sponsor care workers and senior care workers within their organisation.

Increase in salary threshold

The minimum salary threshold for Skilled Workers will increase from £26,200 per annum to £38,700 per annum. This increase will be effective from 04 April 2024.

However, it has been clarified that this new minimum salary threshold will NOT apply for Health & Care visas.

Furthermore, we do anticipate some raise to the minimum salary threshold for Healthcare Workers to be announced along with the annual increase in National Minimum Wage in April 2024. The Home Office are yet to announce any particular guidance on this increase but the National Minimum Wage will be increasing to £11.44.

Immigration Salary List (ISL)

The Shortage Occupation List will be reformed and renamed as the ISL. Under the new rules, the 20% going rate salary discount will be scrapped. This change to the Shortage Occupation List will occur in April 2024.

The Migration Advisory Commission (MAC) are also due to review the Occupation Codes that would fall within the ISL. The current Shortage Occupation Codes include, amongst other codes, SOC 6145 and SOC 6146 which have been used by sponsors within the health & care industries to address the current shortage in the care industry. Given the demand and increased usage of the Carer and Senior Carer SOC Codes, we have already been noticing the Home Office’s scrutiny in granting Certificate of Sponsorship requests for these roles.


So, what exactly are the consequences of the proposed changes?

From the relevant date the new rules are due to be in place by the Home Office, the above-mentioned changes will come to force with immediate effect.

This means that any Carers and Senior Carers making an Entry Clearance application to the UK on or after this date, will not be able to apply to bring their dependants to the UK.

The government statistics state that Skilled Worker and Health & Care visas account to 63% of work-related visas in the UK and dependants of care work-related visas have increased significantly to 43% in the UK during 2023. This partially explains the robust approach being taken by the Home Secretary to cut net migration to the UK and increase the domestic labour force.

Further clarifications on Dependants of existing Care Workers and Senior Care Workers:

  • Already on Healthcare Visa and have dependants on their visa (before the new rules): Can continue to remain with their dependants including when they update their employment with a new care provider or extend their visa or apply for settlement.
  • Already on Healthcare Visa but do not have dependants on their visa (before the new rules): Allowed to bring their dependants under their visa and they will be able to remain in the UK including when they update their employment with a new care provider or extend their visa or apply for settlement.
  • Individuals on a different visa route which allows dependants on their visa (such as student visas), switches to Healthcare Visa (after the new rules): cannot bring dependants on their new Health Care Visa. If the dependant is already here in the UK, they cannot apply to be the dependant of a Health Care visa holder.

As for the Health Care industry’s salary thresholds, the current information confirms that the increased salary thresholds will not apply to Health & Care Workers. This means that sponsors can continue to employ Carers and Senior Carers under a reduced salary threshold. That said, it is yet to be confirmed by the Home Office what the minimum salary threshold will be for Health Care workers. Clear guidance on this will hopefully follow with the Migration Advisory Committee’s review of the composition of the list and the updated salary thresholds.

How can JMW be of help to you?

If you are a Health Care Worker currently in the UK or are a licenced sponsor holder operating within the Health & Care industry, these changes might have immediate and direct consequences to you, your dependants or your employee’s right to work in the UK. We have a dedicated team of Immigration Solicitors who specialise in the Healthcare industry and will be able to provide further tailored advice to your personal circumstances or company needs.

If you have any queries relating to immigration, please contact us by calling 0345 872 6666 or by completing our online enquiry form.

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