The government is expected to increase the minimum salary for foreign workers in an effort to control the high levels of legal migration. It is anticipated that the minimum salary for a skilled worker visa will be raised from the current £26,200.
There are also anticipated restrictions on visas for healthcare workers and limitations on the number of dependents migrants can bring to the UK. Additional conditions on certain student visas are also expected.
Ministers have been under pressure to address legal migration, especially after recent figures revealed that net migration reached 745,000 last year. Home Secretary James Cleverly is expected to announce these new measures in the House of Commons.
While the new minimum salary has not been confirmed, there are reports suggesting it could exceed £35,000. The government may also revise the list of occupations where foreign workers can be hired below standard salary thresholds.
Currently, positions on the shortage occupation list can be filled by foreign workers who are paid 20% less than the official “going rate” or a lower overall salary cap of £20,960.
The government’s migration advisers have recommended eliminating the 20% rule, a move supported by the Labour party. They argue that it undermines fair pay and the training of UK workers.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has pledged to reduce migration levels, which have increased post-Brexit, despite the 2019 Tory election promise to decrease them. On Monday, Sunak’s spokesman noted that migration levels were too high and there had been abuse of measures introduced over successive years.
UK Health Care Visa
However, recent statistics highlight the challenge in reducing migration into the health sector, which heavily relies on hiring workers from abroad. In the year to September, 143,990 health and care worker visas were issued, double the previous year. Of these, 83,072 were for care workers and home workers, a sector experiencing staffing shortages. The government’s migration advisers attribute this crisis to the persistent underfunding of local councils, the primary source of funding for adult social care.