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Changes to the Minimum Salary Threshold for UK Work Visas

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In this article, our Immigration Solicitors look at the anticipated changes to the minimum salary threshold for work visas and what it may mean for sponsor licence holders and work visa applicants.

UK Online and London-Based Immigration Solicitors and Sponsorship Licence Lawyers

For sponsor licence and immigration advice call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

The rhetoric

The Independent newspaper reports that the former labour home secretary, David Blunkett, has said that the immigration system is out of control.

In the Daily Mail, former prime minister, Boris Johnston is calling for the minimum salary threshold to be raised to £40,000 and says ‘’immigration has become like a Ponzi scheme, encouraging us to suck in more and more people, rather than sorting out all the ­reasons for UK under-productivity: skills, welfare, infrastructure’’.

The current prime minister, Rishi Sunak, has said that the net migration figure is too high.

It is a case of watching this space to see if any of the rhetoric and suggested tightening of work visa eligibility transforms into government policy.

The immigration minister's proposals

To understand the direction we may be heading in, the immigration minister, Robert Jenrick, is reportedly proposing:

  1. Scrapping the shortage occupation list (also recommended by the Migration Advisory Committee)
  2. Raising the minimum salary threshold for work visas to £35,000
  3. Imposing a cap on visas for those working in social care
  4. Health and Care Worker Visa applicants being unable to bring dependant family members with them on Dependant Visas

These proposals do not go as far as the former home secretary, Suella Braverman, who is proposing an annual cap on net migration and increasing the work visa salary threshold (outside health and social care) to £45,000 a year.

You can see that with current and former politicians suggesting that the minimum salary threshold for the Skilled Worker Visa be raised to £30,000, £35,000, £40,000 or even £45,000 there is a lot of scope for debate.

The work visa proposals come on top of the plan to stop international students from being accompanied to the UK by family members on Dependant Visas.

A different perspective

In the Times newspaper, Matthew Parris, reports on the nation's mental health and reports that of the 4.3 million sick notes issued in the UK mental health issues are the most common reason given and compelling argues that something is going wrong given the rise in the nation’s mental health problems over the last decade with an anxiety pandemic.

Ask sponsor licence holders

In many of the newspapers UK businesses get the blame for recruiting from overseas as it is said that sponsor licence holders using their Home Office sponsor licences to recruit foreign workers has resulted in the revised 2022 net migration figure of 745,000 and the 2023 net migration figure of 672,000 people.

Of course, those 672,000 people comprise asylum seekers as well as those welcomed to the UK from Ukraine and Hong Kong and those arriving in the UK as international students on Student Visas and families reuniting in the UK on Spouse Visas.

When our Sponsorship Licence lawyers talk to our sponsor licence clients when sorting out a sponsor licence application or when assisting with the management of their sponsor licence or its renewal, the message our business immigration solicitors get is that overseas recruitment is the action of last resort. It would be so much simpler for UK businesses to recruit locally without the hassle of a sponsor licence application or management and avoiding fees such as the immigration skills charge or the certificate of sponsorship fee.

This week we expect our numerous nursing home and care home businesses will be questioning how they can operate without the help of overseas workers when their businesses have tried and failed to recruit locally.

Ask any care home manager if the answer is to increase care home or nursing home fees to raise wages for care home staff so UK workers see the jobs as financially rewarding and they will always tell you that finding a great social care assistant is not just about the salary. Social care service providers also want to attract caring candidates who can do the work with compassion. Ask any accountant about increasing care or nursing home fees and they will question how homeowners will afford increased council taxes to pay for the rising social care costs without inflation-busting wage rises.

How can OTS Solicitors help your business?

In uncertain times the business immigration lawyers at OTS Solicitors provide clear pragmatic advice on the current immigration rules and minimum salary threshold and forward-looking business immigration solutions.

As a first step, we are advising all our sponsor licence holder clients to review their recruitment needs and to advance plan as far as possible. With the rise in the immigration health surcharge in mid-January 2024, it is in the best interests of sponsoring employers and visa applicants that work visa applications are submitted before that date.

If the minimum salary threshold for Skilled Worker Visa and Health and Care Worker Visa applicants do rise or the shortage occupation list is abolished then your business is likely to want to make savings to adjust to the changes. One way you may be able to achieve this is by using a professional sponsor licence management service. That may sound counterintuitive but for a fixed monthly retainer you may be able to cut out admin costs or avoid the added expense and risks of sponsor licence case plans and downgrading.

If the recent news reports have made your business think that it needs to review its recruitment strategy and get ready for what may be in store for 2024 then talk to our Sponsorship Licence lawyers.

UK Online and London-Based Immigration Solicitors and Sponsorship Licence Lawyers

For sponsor licence and immigration advice call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

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