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U.K. Announces Measures to Cut Migration by 300,000

  1. Immigration Blog
  2. U.K. Announces Measures to Cut Migration by 300,000

As we expected Home Secretary James Cleverly announced a series of measures that will reduce the high numbers of dependents coming to the U.K.

The United Kingdom has announced plans to end dependent visas for care workers as well as an increase in the minimum salary foreign workers must earn to qualify for a visa as part of a package to cut immigration by 40 percent.

The Health and Care visa route through which a significant number of permits were issued, will be tightened by preventing overseas care workers from bringing their dependents to the U.K., the Home Office said in a statement on 4 December. Besides, care providers in England will now be able to sponsor migrant workers only if they are undertaking activities regulated by the Care Quality Commission.

From next spring, the government will also increase the threshold salary that foreign workers must earn to qualify for a visa by nearly 50 percent to £38,700 from the current £26,200 to encourage businesses to look to British talent first and invest in their workforce, according to the Home Office statement.

“Together, this package will mean around 300,000 people who came to the U.K. last year would now not be able to come,” Home Secretary James Cleverly said in the statement. It will also curb abuse of the immigration system and help deliver the biggest ever reduction in net migration. Net migration to the U.K. hit a record 745,000 in 2022, about three times the annual average before the pandemic, piling pressure on the Conservative Party government to announce measures to curb the inflow of foreigners.

The government said it will also increase the minimum income required for British citizens and those settled in the U.K. who want their family members to join them. This will ensure that all those who want to work and live here must be able to support themselves, are contributing to the economy and are not burdening the state.

To crackdown on cut-price labour from overseas, the government will end the 20 percent salary discount on the “going rate” for shortage occupations and replace the Shortage Occupation List with a new Immigration Salary List, which will retain a general threshold discount, Cleverly said. The Migration Advisory Committee will review the new list against the increased salary thresholds to reduce the number of occupations on the list.

The Committee will also be asked to review the Graduate visa route to ensure it works in the best interests of the U.K. and to ensure steps are being taken to prevent abuse.

“It is clear that net migration remains far too high,” Cleverly said. “By leaving the European Union we gained control over who can come to the U.K., but far more must be done to bring those numbers down so British workers are not undercut and our public services put under less strain.”

In the year ending September 2023, 101,000 Health and Care visas were issued to care workers and senior care workers, with an estimated 120,000 visas granted to associated dependents, the majority of whom the Home Office estimated didn’t work, but still make use of public services.

The new measures follow the decision taken earlier this year to disallow foreign students from bringing dependents to the U.K., which will come into force in the new year. The Home Office expects this change to have a tangible impact on net migration, with around 153,000 visas granted to dependents of sponsored students in the year ending September 2023.

The government will also make sure that migrants coming to the U.K. make a fair financial contribution so that public services, including the National Health Service, are not taken advantage of by increasing the annual Immigration Health Surcharge to £1,035 from £624.

Workers and their dependents account for some of the highest proportion of visas being issued, with Skilled Worker and Health and Care worker visas accounting for 63 percent of work grants, and the proportion of work-related visas being granted to dependents rising to 43 percent in the year ending September 2023, according to the Home Office.

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