On 14 March 2024, the government announced a significant update to its Immigration Rules, aimed at refining the United Kingdom’s migration policy to give effect to its five-point plan announced last December. The new 289-page document, serves as this year’s second Statement of Changes, highlighting the government’s ongoing commitment to streamline immigration processes and address critical concerns net migration. 

Key changes: 

  1. Effective April 4, 2024, the minimum general salary threshold will increase from £26,200 to £38,700; 
  1. Updates to the ‘going rates’ for eligible roles under the Skilled Worker Route; 
  1. Removal of the Shortage Occupation List and replacement with the new Immigration Salary List;  
  1. Allow for relaxed provisions to allow Skilled Workers to work outside of their sponsored role and not limited to the roles found on the Shortage Occupation List;  
  1. Increase to the minimum salary thresholds for Global Business Mobility visa categories; 
  1. Transitional arrangements are in place for those currently sponsored as Skilled Workers on existing occupation codes, to enable individuals to extend their stay as Skilled Workers or settle in the UK; and 
  1. Update to minimum income threshold for Partner Routes under Appendix FM. 

Occupation codes and the ‘going rates’  

Occupation code classification will also be updated, and many of the existing SOC codes have been classified under SOC codes. Sponsoring employers must pay Skilled Workers at least the general salary threshold (£38,700) or the ‘going rate’ for the individual occupation, whichever is higher. The only exceptions to this are: 

  1. Applicants who applied before April 4, 2024, or who held a Skilled Worker visa previously will be evaluated under the old salary criteria with the SOC 2010 list; 
  1. Applicants who hold a PhD, a STEM field degree, new entrants (those under 26 or who are generally early in their career and who meet other eligibility requirements), or individuals on the new Immigration Salary List (ISL) who will continue to benefit from salary discounts; 
  1. Applicants who were previously eligible under the Shortage Occupation List but not on the new ISL can continue to rely on the lower ISL threshold if they are sponsored for a role which was eligible under the applicable rules at that time; and they are being sponsored to continue working in the same job for the same sponsor. This does not apply if these individuals are switching sponsors as they will be captured under the new rules. 

Changes in occupation code classification will also impact individuals on Health and Care visas, where only a reduced number of new codes will qualify for this visa category. For example, those wishing to practice in the UK as a General medical practitioner may no longer qualify for this visa category. 

Increase of Minimum Income Requirement for Partner Routes  

For partners aiming for settlement via the five-year route under Appendix FM (spouse and partner visas), the minimum income threshold has been revised. This revision introduces a new minimum income threshold of £29,000 for applications filed from April 11, 2024, onwards. However, an important update to the minimum income rules shows that there is no longer an “additional income” requirement for children. 

This update promises a comprehensive review of how these changes, particularly in worker routes, align with the Migration Advisory Committee’s recommendations. Stay tuned for an in-depth analysis on this and how it reshapes immigration policy and practice. 

Is your business affected? 

If you are sponsoring workers or you intend to do so in the future, this announcement will inevitably affect your business. Contact our friendly team to discuss your company’s immigration matters. You can reach us on 0203 397 3897 or via email at [email protected]