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Understanding Recent Changes to the UK Skilled Worker Visa System

Get up to speed on the latest changes shaking up the skilled worker visa system in the UK. With recent governmental updates, expect significant modifications including a surge in the minimum salary requirement, restrictions on dependents for health and social care workers, and the elimination of salary reductions for shortage occupations. These adjustments, effective as of April 4th, 2024, will reshape hiring practices and pose challenges for companies sponsoring workers in various sectors. Stay informed to steer the evolving landscape of skilled worker immigration.

Recent governmental updates have shaken up the skilled worker visa system, ushering in several key modifications. These changes include a hike in the minimum salary requirement for skilled workers, a restriction on health and social care workers bringing dependents to the UK, and the elimination of the 20% salary reduction for shortage occupations.

Effective April 4, 2024, sponsors must pay overseas skilled workers a minimum of £38,700 annually, marking a substantial 50% surge from the current £26,200 threshold. Moreover, the “going rate” for eligible occupations will escalate to match the average full-time wage for equivalent positions.

This adjustment will notably impact companies aiming to sponsor workers in less skilled roles where the going rate falls below the new minimum threshold. For instance, while the current going rate for a chef stands at £17,100 yearly, post-April 4, 2024, chefs under skilled worker visas must receive at least £38,700 annually.

Health and Social Care Visas: While the health and social care visa won’t be subject to the minimum salary threshold increase, changes to immigration rules post-March 11, 2024, will prevent applicants from bringing dependents to the UK. This has raised concerns regarding recruitment challenges in the care sector. Nonetheless, those already employed under this route before the rule change can still extend existing dependent family visas or apply for family members to join them in the UK. Additionally, as of March 11, care providers in England can only sponsor skilled workers if regulated by the Care Quality Commission.

Shortage Occupations: Effective March 14, 2024, the 20% salary discount for skilled workers in shortage occupations will cease. A new list, termed the immigration salary list, will replace the shortage occupation list in early April 2024.

These alterations, coupled with the hike in the immigration healthcare surcharge to £1,035 annually for skilled workers (up from £624), will significantly impact sponsors’ ability to hire skilled workers in the UK moving forward.

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