Home Secretary James Cleverly has introduced a series of new measures designed to reduce net migration, targeting those who come to the UK to work or join their family. These include:
- Increasing the minimum salary needed for skilled overseas workers from £26,200 to £38,700.
- Replacing the Shortage Occupation List with a new Immigration Salary List, to be reviewed by the Migration Advisory Committee to reduce the number of occupations on the list. The 20% salary discount for shortage occupation will be ended.
- Restricting overseas care workers from bringing their dependants to the UK.
- Restricting care providers in England so they can only sponsor migrant workers if they are undertaking activities regulated by the Care Quality Commission.
- Raising the minimum income for family visas to £38,700.
- Reviewing the graduate visa route, which allows students to stay for two years after their studies.
- Increasing the immigration health surcharge, paid by foreign nationals who use the NHS, from £624 to £1,035.
The measures come in addition to recent changes to restrict international students from bringing dependents to the UK.
The Government claims that the new, combined measures could reduce net migration by 300,000.
Responding to the news, British Future Director Sunder Katwala said:
“These measures will have little impact this side of a General Election, as the figures released in May next year will refer to net migration to the end of 2023.
“The next government is likely to inherit lower net migration in any event – as a result of fewer people seeking safety in the UK from the war in Ukraine, and the end of a post-Covid surge in international students.
“They will have to manage the trade-offs between immigration numbers and the need to grow the economy and staff care homes and the NHS.
“They should also look again at the unexpected new changes to family visas. Setting this threshold so high – meaning people will not be able to live with their foreign husband or wife unless they earn £38,700 per year – will have little impact on overall migration numbers but a very significant effect on people’s family lives.
“Getting away from big number targets should be part of that approach – looking instead at the pressures and gains from different flows of migration, on a case-by-case basis, in an annual Immigration Plan.”