Hiring from abroad? Immigration changes to be aware of…
In a ground-breaking move, the UK government has disclosed a comprehensive plan to address concerns about the misuse of the immigration system and achieve a substantial reduction in net migration. With net migration soaring to an unprecedented 745,000 in 2022, the government envisions a significant cut, estimating an annual reduction of 300,000 individuals.
These measures build upon previous Home Office actions aimed at controlling migrants bringing dependents to the UK, preventing abuse of specific visa routes, and increasing revenue from immigration fees.
Impact on UK Businesses
These changes present challenges for various industries, particularly those with lower-wage roles. The increased immigration fees and the rise in the Immigration Health Surcharge to £1,035 per year from January 2024 will result in higher costs for those eligible for a Skilled Worker visa and other relevant routes.
Navigating these immigration rule changes demands a clear understanding of their implications. Whether you’re a visitor, business traveller, business owner, or professional, staying informed about these immigration changes and how they can impact you and your business is crucial.
Evolving Skilled Worker Visa
Commencing April 2024, the Skilled Worker visa will undergo a substantial minimum salary requirement increase, soaring from £26,200 to £38,700 and spouse visa to £29,000. The objective is to diminish reliance on overseas labour, encouraging businesses to tap into the local talent pool.
Individuals on the Skilled Worker route before Immigration Rules changes should be exempt from new minimum salary requirements when changing sponsors, extending, or settling in the UK. However, their pay progression is expected to align with settled workers.
Exceptions include Health and Care Worker visas and those on national pay scales, like teachers, to maintain the attraction of international talent to these sectors.
Eliminating 20% Salary Discount for Shortage Occupations
The government plans to eliminate the 20% ‘going rate’ salary discount for shortage occupations, aiming to eradicate the practice of ‘cut-price labour’ from overseas. The Shortage Occupation List will transition to an Immigration Salary List, aligning with increased salary thresholds in January 2024. The current list remains until the new minimum salary requirement in April 2024.
Revamped Visitor Visa Rules
the Home Office released the latest Statement of Changes to immigration rules on December 7, 2023. Notably, these changes bring about key adjustments to the regulations governing the UK Visitor visa, expanding the scope of permissible engagements for visitors.
Expansion of Client-Facing Activities:
The modification eliminates the prohibition on visitors working directly with clients in the UK as part of intra-corporate activities. Instead, a novel stipulation requires that client-facing tasks must be incidental to the visitor’s overseas role and must not result in the offshoring of a project or service by their foreign employer.
Remote Work Authorisation:
A progressive move in the revised rules allows visitors to engage in remote work while in the UK, provided it does not constitute the primary purpose of their visit. This acknowledges the evolving nature of work arrangements and the increasing prevalence of remote collaboration.
Facilitation for Scientists, Researchers, and Academics:
The updated regulations offer flexibility for scientists, researchers, and academics conducting research in the UK during their visit. They are now permitted to enter as visitors, facilitating knowledge exchange and international collaboration.
Enhanced Legal Professional Activities:
Legal professionals visiting the UK will enjoy expanded privileges, including the ability to provide advice, participate in arbitrations, serve as arbitrators, mediators, or expert witnesses, attend conferences, and offer specific other legal services.
Monetary Compensation for Conference Speakers:
Among the notable changes is the provision allowing visitors to receive payment for speaking at conferences. This acknowledges the professional contributions of visitors and provides a framework for fair compensation.
Youth Mobility Scheme Evolution
Changes to the Youth Mobility Scheme outlined in the Autumn Statement extend the age range for individuals from Australia or Canada to 18 to 35. Additionally, individuals from Andorra, Japan, South Korea, and Uruguay, between 18 and 30, can apply, subject to specified requirements.