U.K. Government Sheds Light on Five-Point Plan Timeline

February 16, 2024 Advisory

On 30 January 2024 Tom Pursglove, the U.K.’s Minister of State for Legal Migration and the Border, issued a statement which shed further light on the timing of the U.K. Government’s ‘Five-Point Plan’ for immigration.

This article summarises Pursglove’s key insights, as well as some other key updates to bear in mind moving forward into 2024. If these immigration policies initially announced on 4 December 2023 are new to you, please read our previous articles on them here.

The Five-Point Plan Timeline

1. Health and Care Visa Workers bringing dependants to the U.K.

On 19 February, the U.K. Government intends to lay Immigration Rules which will remove the right for care workers and senior care workers to bring dependants to the U.K. This will come into force on 11 March 2024.

2. Skilled Worker Visa minimum salary thresholds

On 14 March the U.K. Government intends to lay Immigration Rules to increase the earnings thresholds for the Skilled Worker route from £26,200 to £38,700. These changes will come into force from 4 April 2024.

3. ‘Shortage Occupation List’ salary discount

On 17 January the U.K. Government commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to carry out a rapid review of the Shortage Occupation List to advise which occupations should be temporarily added to a new ‘Immigration Salary List’ from early April. The Immigration Rules that the U.K. Government intends to lay on 14 March 2023 will remove the 20% going rate discount for occupations on the Shortage Occupation list, and temporarily add occupations recommended by the MAC to the new ‘Immigration Salary List’.

4. Family and Spouse Visa salary threshold

The Immigration Rules to be laid on 14 March will set out that from 11 April 2024 the threshold for the family visa minimum income requirement will rise to £29,000. The U.K. Government intends to increase this threshold to £38,700 by early 2025.

5. Migration Advisory Committee to review the graduate route

There has been no further clarification in regard to the graduate route. We will be monitoring for any updates from the Home Office.

U.K. Electronic Travel Authorisation Scheme

Electronic Travel Authorisations (ETAs) are a new requirement for certain passengers visiting or transiting through the U.K. who do not currently need a visa for short stays, or who do not already have any other U.K. immigration status before travelling. This scheme will operate in a similar way to the U.S.A.’s ‘ESTA’ scheme.

As of November 2023, prior authorisation to come to the U.K. via the ETA is a requirement for nationals of Qatar. ETAs will also be required for nationals of Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Jordan travelling to the U.K. on or after 22 February 2024. Other nationalities will be added to the scheme later this year.

Sponsor Licence Renewal Process

The Home Office has indicated that as of 6 April 2024 organisations that hold Sponsor Licences enabling them to sponsor migrant workers will no longer have to apply to renew their licence. Current rules require renewal of sponsor licence every four years and noncompliance would result in a sponsor’s existing sponsored workers’ visas being curtailed.

The new rules indicate that any licences due to expire on or after 6 April 2024 will be automatically extended for 10 years, without charge. This will be confirmed in the ‘view your licence’ page of a sponsor’s online Sponsor Management System. However, those who have a licence expiring before 6 April 2024 will still need to apply and pay for renewal and will not receive a refund of the renewal fee.

Civil Penalties for Illegal Working

The Home Office previously stated that penalties for employers found to be employing illegal workers would be increasing. These increases took effect on 13 February 2024. Penalties will now reach £45,000 per worker found to be illegally working for a first offence, or £60,000 per worker for a repeat breach (within three years).

How We Can Help

Although recent announcements have clarified the timings of some of these changes, it is still uncertain how they will operate in practice. The Armstrong Teasdale U.K. Immigration team are well equipped and ready to provide further guidance to help organisations adhere to the ever-changing immigration law climate. Please contact your usual AT lawyer or one of the authors from our U.K. Immigration team.

Disclaimer: This publication is provided by Armstrong Teasdale Limited for informational purposes only. The information contained in this publication should not be construed as legal advice. Any questions or further information regarding the matters discussed in this publication can be directed to Armstrong Teasdale’s U.K. immigration team.

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