Home Secretary James Cleverly unveiled a comprehensive set of new regulations yesterday, aimed at reshaping and controlling migration patterns to the United Kingdom. He claims that these rules – if applied last year – would have reduced migration into the country by 300,000.
The newly introduced rules focused strictly on legal migration, with further amendments to policy surrounding illegal immigration expected in the coming days.
As part of the measures, the Home Secretary announced that the salary needed to qualify for a skilled worker visa is increasing to £38,700 – that’s an increase of almost 50% on the current level, which is just over £26,000 – more than the current median average salary of a full-time UK worker, which sits at £34,963.
Further implications of this change mean that a UK citizen who marries a non-UK citizen will now be unable to being their new spouse to the UK to live with them unless the UK citizen is earning £38,700. Cleverly claims that this alteration has been made in order to “ensure people only bring dependants whom they can support financially”.
Those coming on health and social care visas will be exempt from the higher salary threshold in order to meet NHS staffing needs, but overseas care workers will no longer be allowed to bring dependants – that is, their partners and children.
It was announced earlier in the year that the right for international students to bring dependants to the UK will be removed in January as part of the government’s efforts to curb migration, however, this change will not apply if those students are on post-graduate courses that are designated as essential research.
The Migration Advisory Committee has been asked to review the occupations on the “shortage occupation list”, which allows people to come to the UK on lower wages, meaning an end to the 20% going rate salary discount for shortage occupations, Cleverly says.
In November, it was revealed that net migration into the UK hit a record high. Net migration – the difference between the number of people coming to live in the UK and the people leaving – stood at 745,000 last year, however, the government’s reaction to this escalating figure thus far has stirred widespread debate among proponents and critics alike. These recent policy changes are poised to spark further controversy, adding a new layer to the ongoing discussions surrounding the complex landscape of migration dynamics.