Update Alert: Decoding the latest immigration announcements

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Update Alert: Decoding the latest immigration announcements

As you may already be aware, the UK government announced a raft of drastic changes to take place to the Immigration rules in a bit to reduce net migration levels. Our earlier article providing an overview of the changes can be found here.

What has happened since?

The announcement by the Home Secretary in early December 2023 left many wondering what the changes meant for them. The government has since clarified aspects of the changes that are due to come into effect in spring 2024. Here are the some of the key updates since the announcement:

  • Initially the government announced that the minimum salary threshold required for British citizens to bring family members to the UK would increase from £18,600 to £38,700. The Home Office have since rowed back on these plans and have instead announced that the new threshold would initially be set at £29,000 in spring 2024 with further increases at unspecified dates thereafter. It has been suggested by the Home Office that the rise would occur in incremental changes to give predictability with the aim of increasing the threshold to £34,500 and eventually £38,700.
  • The Home Office has also now clarified that those who already have a family visa within the 5 year partner route or those that apply before the minimum income threshold is raised will continue to have their application assessed against the current income requirement of £18,600. However, those already in the UK on a different route who apply to switch into the five-year partner route after the minimum income requirement has been increased will be subject to the new income requirement.
  • It has now been confirmed that the salary threshold increase from the current minimum threshold of £26,200 to £38,700 will be implemented in April 2024. However, the transitional arrangements remain somewhat unclear. The Home Office have confirmed that those already in the Skilled Worker route before the change should be exempt from the new median salary levels when they change sponsor, extend, or settle. The Home Office however expects t their pay to progress at the same rate as resident workers and so they would be subject to the threshold change when they next make an application to change employment, extend their stay, or settle.
  • The Home Office has further reiterated that the changes stopping care workers (SOC codes 6145 and 6146) from bringing dependents to the UK will be introduced as soon as possible this year, although a specific date has not yet been provided. Care workers already in the route will be able to remain with their dependants, including extending, changing employer and settlement. It has further been confirmed that where a care worker is in the route before the Immigration Rules change, but has not yet brought dependants, they will be allowed to bring dependants during their sponsorship. However, individuals who are in the UK on any other route, including where that route permits dependants, who switch into the care visa as a care worker or senior care worker after the change, will not be able to stay with or bring over dependants.
  • Restrictions to student visa routes have already come into effect on 1 January 2024. International students starting courses from January 2024 are no longer able to bring family members on all but post graduate courses or courses with government funded scholarships.

The recent government announcements have gone some way in clarifying the changes which were deemed to be reactionary at the time. However there still remain a number of questions unanswered and uncertainty as to whether any potential new government is likely to continue these policies or not.

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