UK Immigration Policy Raises Skilled Workers' Wages
By:
Mabel Fatokun

A Major Shift In UK Immigration Policy Raises Skilled Workers’ Wages

United Kingdom

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United Kingdom

A major shift in UK immigration policy has occurred. The government announced significant changes to the wage thresholds for the skilled worker visa, which will take effect on April 4, 2024.

The minimum salary requirement has been raised significantly, considering extra factors unique to specific industries and current visa holders. Employers and prospective applicants should be informed of these critical modifications to guarantee a seamless visa application process.

Employers in the UK who hold sponsor licences must carefully evaluate these changes if they plan to hire someone under this visa category.

An Overview of Wage Raising

Provisional agreements

UK Immigration Policy Raises Skilled Workers' Wages

Those who were already sponsored under the skilled worker route before the new Immigration Rules going into effect on April 4th, according to the Home Office, should be exempt from the higher thresholds. As a result, current sponsored workers under the Skilled Worker route should be able to stay sponsored at the current 25th percentile salary threshold (or higher) even if they have to apply on or after April 4th to modify their role or sponsor, extend their visa, or apply for indefinite leave to stay in the UK. However, as their pay rates will probably rise at the same rate as resident workers, they will be subject to the updated 25th percentile rate, which is often a rather slight increase.

  1. Increased Compensation Needs
    The minimum yearly wage for a skilled worker visa has increased significantly, from £26,200 to £38,700. Although there are some exceptions, namely for health and care workers, this change is likely to affect a number of job sectors, especially those that depend on skilled foreign labour.
  2. Increases in Sector-Specific “Going Rate”
    Furthermore, some raises to the “going rate” have been implemented for particular work roles. These government-set rates may be higher than the minimum wage of £38,700 for some professions, which means that a detailed examination of the going rate salary lists for each job is necessary.

For “new entrants,” which includes students transferring to the skilled worker category, those under 26, and professionals pursuing registration or chartered status, such as architects, accountants, and solicitors, a lower salary barrier will continue to apply. The overall pay threshold for new hires is going to increase from £20,960 to £30,960. On the lower wage threshold, new entrants may be sponsored for a maximum of four years.

Important Dates for CoS Assignment to Employers Last Day: In order to take advantage of the current wage thresholds, CoS must be assigned by 7:00 PM on April 2, 2024. This gives candidates and employers a short window of time to take advantage of the current requirements before the higher thresholds go into effect.

Extended CoS Assignment Window: Employers and visa applicants may benefit from the ability to assign a CoS up to three months before filing a visa application.

Specific Exemptions and Modifications
healthcare Professionals: The minimum wage level for roles requiring a healthcare visa will drop to £29,000 per year in recognition of their vital function. A lesser requirement of £23,200 or the occupation’s specific rate, whichever is higher, may apply to some particular healthcare professions.

Current Visa Recipients
Extensions of Stay and Employer Changes: Depending on the “going rate” for their profession, current visa holders who wish to change employers or prolong their stay may qualify for a lower threshold of £29,000.

Employers’ Obligations

Enhanced Scrutiny: Sponsor licence holders can anticipate heightened scrutiny to ensure they adhere to the revised compensation guidelines.

Consequences of Non-Compliance: Should the new thresholds be missed, sponsor licences may be suspended, revoked, or subject to fines. Employers who want to prevent such repercussions should be well aware of the developments.

Extra Information
New Reference Data:
Rather than utilising the 25th percentile of 2021 data, the government will now use the median of 2023 ASHE data, which might result in minimum pay for some roles being higher than £38,700.

Transitional arrangements: Until April 4, 2030, holders of an existing skilled worker visa may take advantage of minimum wage criteria of £29,000 or the “going rate,” which is determined by taking the 25th percentile of 2023 ASHE data.

Immigration Health Charge Increase: As of February 6, the UK will increase the yearly immigration health cost from GBP 624 to GBP 1,035. Students and under-18s will continue to get concessions, consistent with more general changes to immigration-related fees.

In light of these impending significant changes, stakeholders need to be astute and proactive in navigating the changing terrain of UK immigration policy. Employers and potential visa applicants must know the ramifications and take appropriate action.

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