In a significant move, the UK government has unveiled a series of measures aimed at curbing immigration, including raising the minimum salary requirements for skilled foreign workers seeking visas to work in the UK. This decision comes in response to official figures revealing a record-high net migration of 745,000 individuals to the UK in 2022, placing substantial pressure on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who has made reducing new arrivals a priority.
Rishi Sunak, addressing the issue, stated, “Immigration is too high. Today, we’re taking radical action to bring it down. These steps will ensure that immigration benefits the UK.”
Here, we’ll delve into the details of the UK’s new immigration plan, exploring the key changes and their potential implications.
The UK Immigration Plan
Restrictions on Family Members for Overseas Students
One of the prominent changes is the imposition of restrictions on overseas students bringing family members to the UK. This restriction will apply unless the students are pursuing postgraduate research degrees. Additionally, care firms in England will need to be registered with the Care Quality Commission to sponsor visas for care workers.
This alteration is estimated to reduce arrivals through this route by more than 20% by 2024-25.
Raising the Earnings Threshold for Skilled Workers
The minimum salary requirement for skilled foreign workers seeking employment in the UK will undergo a significant increase. Starting from early next year, these workers will need to earn £38,700 annually, compared to the current level of £26,200. This move aims to bring immigration in line with the median full-time wage for these types of jobs.
Eliminating Discounted Shortage Labour
The plan also includes the elimination of the 20% salary discount for shortage occupations, effectively ending the practice of hiring cut-price shortage labor from overseas. Furthermore, there will be reforms to the Shortage Occupation List.
Doubling the Minimum Income for Family Visas
The minimum income requirement for family visas will more than double, aligning it with the threshold for skilled workers, set at £38,700.
Stricter Rules for Students Bringing Family Members
The rules governing students bringing family members to the UK will be tightened, and the Migration Advisory Committee will conduct a review of the graduate route.
These measures are part of the UK government’s comprehensive immigration plan, aimed at decisively reducing net migration while creating a system that prioritizes the interests of the British people.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has consistently expressed concerns about the high levels of immigration. This issue is expected to take center stage in the upcoming general election, which is anticipated to occur next year, with the main opposition Labour Party currently holding a favorable position.
Legal migration has witnessed a significant increase since the UK officially left the European Union in January 2020. In 2021, net migration stood at 488,000 individuals.
In addition to the surge in legal migration, Prime Minister Sunak faces the challenge of reducing irregular arrivals crossing the English Channel from northern France on small boats. More than 28,000 individuals have undertaken this dangerous journey this year. Although the government has declared these crossings illegal, its plans to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda were recently blocked by the courts.
In conclusion, the UK’s new immigration plan represents a significant shift in policy, aiming to address the concerns of high immigration levels and create a system that aligns with the interests of the country. However, the implications of these measures will continue to be a subject of debate and discussion in the lead-up to the forthcoming general election.
How will the increased salary threshold affect skilled workers coming to the UK?
The increased salary threshold will make it more challenging for skilled foreign workers to obtain visas to work in the UK, as they will need to earn £38,700 annually, up from the previous £26,200.
What is the expected impact of the restrictions on family members for overseas students?
The restrictions are anticipated to reduce arrivals of family members through this route by more than 20% by 2024-25, as only postgraduate research degree students will be allowed to bring their families.
Why is the government eliminating the discount for shortage labor from overseas?
The government aims to ensure that labor shortages are addressed at fair wages and is ending the practice of hiring cut-price labor from overseas to maintain equitable employment conditions.
How does the UK government plan to tackle the issue of irregular arrivals crossing the English Channel?
The government’s approach to dealing with irregular arrivals has faced legal challenges, including recent setbacks in plans to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda. The situation remains a complex and contentious issue.
When will these immigration measures take effect?
Most of the proposed immigration measures are set to take effect early next year, with specific timelines outlined for each change.