Home Office Delivers on Net Migration Reduction Package

| April 12, 2024
Home Office Delivers on Net Migration Reduction Package

The United Kingdom Home Office has delivered on its promise to transform the country’s immigration system and cut net migration. 

The significant policy changes that Home Office Secretary James Cleverly announced in December 2023 have all come into force. 

“I promised action, and we have delivered at remarkable speed,” he said about cutting unsustainable net migration numbers in a new release

He stressed that the changes aim “to protect British workers and their wages [and} ensure those bringing family to the UK do not burden taxpayers.”

The changes also seek “to build an immigration system fit for the future – and one the public can rightly have confidence in,” Cleverly added. 

The complete set of immigration policy changes, which have all been implemented, include the following: 

Since January 2024, nearly all student visa holders have been unable to bring dependents to the UK. They can also only switch to work visas after finishing their course. 

Since March 2024, health and care workers have been prohibited from bringing their families to the country. 

Care firms sponsoring migrant workers must register with the Care Quality Commission.

From April 2024, skilled workers must meet the general salary threshold of £38,700, up from the previous £26,200.

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

The ISL will offer a 20 percent salary threshold discount to only eight percent of jobs available in the skilled worker route. 

This ensures employers will no longer be able to pay migrants less than UK workers in shortage occupations.

The Home Office had also asked the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to review the Graduate visa to ensure it serves its purpose. 

The final measure implemented on 11 April is raising the minimum income requirement for family visas

Raising the minimum income requirement for family visas

The new MIR for British nationals sponsoring a spouse or partner to come to the UK on a family visa is £29,000. 

The Lords Legislation Scrutiny Committee has deemed the increase “unfair,” yet it proceeded to take effect.

This is a 55 percent hike from the previous MIR of £18,600, which remained unchanged for a decade until now.

In 2025, the family visa MIR will increase twice more to reach £37,800, the same as the salary threshold for skilled workers.

The staged approach to increasing the MIR gives families predictability and enables them to plan accordingly. 

Raising the MIR ensures that anyone coming to the UK to be with their family is supported financially. 

Couples and families can meet the MIR in several ways, including through savings exclusively or in addition to a lower income. 

British nationals will also receive equal treatment to skilled migrant workers, regardless of sponsored children.

The UK government has been clear that family life cannot be established in the UK at taxpayers’ expense. 

UK’s high net migration numbers

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) 2022 data, the UK’s net migration, or the difference between the number of people arriving and leaving the country, is 672,000.

The figures are up from last year’s 607,000 and lower than the estimate of 745,000 for the year ending December 2022. 

In his speech in December 2023, Cleverly stressed that the UK’s net migration number is “still far too high.”

“Far more must be done to bring those numbers down so British workers are not undercut and our public services put under less strain,” he said.

The new legal migration rules are designed to prevent abuse of the migration system.

They aim to achieve the largest-ever reduction in unsustainable and unfair net migration levels.

It is estimated that the new policies will cut net migration by 300,000.

Data on UK visas issued in 2023

For the year ending December 2023, the UK granted 616,317 visas to overseas workers and their dependents.

This represents a 46 percent increase from 421,565 in 2022 and the highest number for any 12-month period since 2005. 

It is also almost two and a half times more than work visas issued before the pandemic in 2019.

Of that total number, 337,240 are for work visa applicants, a 26 percent increase from 2022.

The remaining 279,131 visas were issued to dependents, of whom 73 percent were family members of health and care workers.

The Home Office also granted around 606,000 student visas, 81,000 family-related visas, and 102,000 humanitarian visas last year.

The number of new study visas issued is five percent lower than last year but still 70 percent higher than in 2019. 

While student visas were down, the student visa exemptions through graduate work permits were up 57 percent.

Family-related visas are up 72 percent compared to 2022, representing the highest calendar year on record.

On the other hand, the humanitarian visas issued were 66 percent less than the previous year.