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Industry Update: Upcoming Visa Regulation Changes in the UK

On December 4, 2023, the Home Secretary, James Cleverly, unveiled a “five-point plan” aimed at reducing immigration through upcoming changes to visa regulations. Further details were provided by the Home Office on December 21, with some modifications to the initial announcement. Although these changes are not yet in effect, a schedule for their implementation has been outlined.


Key Changes Include:

  1. Social care workers will be prohibited from bringing dependants on their visa.
  2. The minimum salary requirement for a Skilled Worker visa will increase from Β£26,200 to Β£38,700, excluding Health and Care Worker visas and education workers on national pay scales.
  3. Adjustments to the shortage occupation list will limit the number of roles eligible for sponsorship under the Skilled Worker visa at reduced salary levels.
  4. The minimum income requirement for sponsoring a spouse/partner visa will incrementally rise to approximately Β£38,700 by early 2025, starting with an increase to Β£29,000 on April 11, 2024.
  5. A review of the Graduate visa, which allows overseas graduates of British universities a two-year unsponsored work permit, is forthcoming.


Implementation Timeline:

  • Restrictions on dependants for social care workers begin March 11, 2024.
  • Increased salary thresholds for Skilled Worker visas effective April 4, 2024.
  • Adjustments to the shortage occupation list also set for April 2024.
  • Staged increases for spouse/partner visa income requirements starting April 11, 2024.


Parliamentary Approval:

It’s unlikely that these changes will go through a vote in Parliament. They are expected to be implemented through statements of changes to the Immigration Rules, with the next statements scheduled for February 19 and March 14, 2024.



The government cites high immigration figures as the impetus for these changes, with net migration estimated at 745,000 for the year ending December 31, 2022. The modifications follow earlier restrictions introduced in May 2023 and aim to curb the influx of international students, social care workers, and their dependants.


Additional Clarifications:

  • The increased income threshold for spouse/partner visas will initially apply only to new applicants.
  • Both the applicant’s and the sponsor’s income can contribute to meeting the income requirement for visa extensions and permanent residence.
  • The required amount of savings as an alternative to income will also increase in line with the new income thresholds.
  • These changes extend to foreign members of the armed forces sponsoring a spouse/partner visa.
  • The UK’s approach to minimum income requirements for spouse visas is stricter compared to other countries, with few setting thresholds near the Β£38,700 mark planned by the UK government.


Impact on Existing Visa Holders:

Individuals currently on a Skilled Worker visa will not be subject to the new Β£38,700 salary threshold for changes in employment, extensions, or settlement. The government also plans to adjust job-specific salary requirements, potentially increasing them to the median UK salary for those roles.


These forthcoming changes mark a significant shift in the UK’s immigration policy, with a clear focus on reducing net migration by tightening visa requirements and raising income thresholds for sponsors.




Disclaimer: The information provided in these updates is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. While every effort is made to ensure accuracy, we recommend consulting with legal professionals or relevant authorities for specific legal matters or concerns.

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