Applications for UK’s Key Visa Routes Drop 24% in Q1 of 2024

| May 9, 2024
Applications for UK's Key Visa Routes Drop 24% in Q1 of 2024

The United Kingdom (UK) Home Secretary’s legal migration reform package, which tackles both legal and illegal migration, is working.

The UK’s key visa route applications across key routes fell by 24 percent in the first three months of 2024 compared to last year.

The key routes affected by the changes include the Skilled Worker visa, Health and Care visa, and Student visa.

This comes as the British government passed its landmark yet controversial Safety of Rwanda Act.

The new legislation aims to stop migrants from crossing the English Channel via small boats to come to the UK.

The Home Office has detained the first group of migrants to be relocated to Rwanda after a series of operations across the country.

Additionally, the first migrant successfully relocated to the East African country through a voluntary scheme.

Meanwhile, food delivery companies agreed to enhance security checks on their apps to prevent market abuse by illegal workers.

“Our plan is working across the board,” Home Secretary James Cleverly said in a news release.

He added, “We are delivering a fairer and stronger immigration system.”

Cleverly further stated that the country’s legal migration numbers “reached grossly unsustainable levels,”

However, the Home Office quickly implemented new policies to reduce the UK’s net migration.

Applications for UK’s key visa routes declining

It is premature to precisely gauge the complete effects of the legal migration changes during the first few months of 2024.

Many of the new policy changes came into effect at the start of January and in March and April of 2024.

However, data released by the government already indicates a notable decrease in the number of key visa routes.

In the first quarter of 2024, the number of Student visas issued dropped to 40,700 from 72,800 the previous year.

Student visa dependant applications dropped by almost 80 percent, from 32,900 in 2023 to 6,700 in 2024.

On the other hand, visas for health and care workers‘ dependants are still high, as doctors, nurses, and other allied health professionals can still bring their families to the UK.

Still, the number of overseas Health and Care visa applicants has dropped by 83 percent in the first quarter of 2024.

Health and care visa applicants are down to 2,4000 this year, compared to 4,300 in the same period in 2023.

“The early signs show strong progress, and numbers will continue to fall,” Cleverly assured.

Other significant reforms include requiring care firms that plan to sponsor migrants to register with the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The UK government has replaced the Shortage Occupation List with the Immigration Salary List (ISL).

The ISL is considerably shorter but still offers a 20 percent discount on general salary thresholds, which are now higher.

The general salary threshold for skilled worker visa applicants has also increased to £38,700 starting 4 April 2024.

The minimum income requirement for a Family visa has also increased from £18,600 to £29,000.

The Migration Advisory Committee is also reviewing the Graduate visa to ensure it is fulfilling its purpose and not abused.

Moving forward with the Rwanda Law

After the passage of the Safety of Rwanda Act and Treaty with Rwanda, the Home Office quickly and safely detained migrants for relocation.

The British government is preparing to relocate them to Rwanda “where they can start rebuilding their lives.”

Flights carrying UK migrants to the East African country are set to take off in nine to 11 weeks.

Meanwhile, the first individual was successfully relocated to Rwanda using the voluntary removal route.

“We must deter those risking their lives in the channel,” Cleverly said.

He added, “This week, we have shown that we mean it when we say you will be detained and removed if you come here illegally.”

“Migration is a global issue, but the UK stands at the forefront of the response, and we’re tackling it head on,” the Home Office Secretary highlighted.

“With robust, innovative, and unrelenting action, we are delivering as promised,” Cleverly stated.

Cracking down on illegal work

Michael Tomlinson, the Minister for Countering Illegal Migration, and Kevin Hollinrake, the Minister for Business and Trade, also met with representatives of Deliveroo, Just Eat, and Uber Eats.

All three delivery companies agreed to add enhanced security checks on their app. This aims to prevent unauthorized account sharing by ineligible job seekers.

This will ensure that substitute riders are working legally in the UK and that right-to-work checks are carried out.

Doing so will also help protect the economy and legitimate workers.

According to the government, the crackdown on illegal working, Rwanda Law, and tackling abuse and exploitation in the UK’s key visa routes demonstrate good progress.