UK Statement of Changes In Effect April 4, 2024

On March 14, 2024, the UK Home Secretary presented to Parliament a Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules which implements several previously announced changes to the skilled worker and partner routes, and which comes into effect on April 4, 2024.

Skilled Worker Changes

From April 4, 2024: Skilled Worker Salary Increases

  • General salary threshold: The general salary threshold is increasing from £26,200 to £38,700. Going rates are also being raised from the 25th percentile to the median. The new thresholds and going rates are based on the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) pay data. Workers sponsored for Health and Care visas, or in occupations where going rates are set using national pay scales, are exempt from the new median salary requirements. Instead, a general threshold based on the 25th percentile continues to apply, and is being updated from £26,200 to £29,000, based on the latest ONS pay data.

A lower salary threshold will remain for “new entrants” (including students switching to Skilled Worker; those under 26 years old; and those working towards registration/becoming chartered such as architects, accountants and solicitors).  The general salary threshold for new entrants will be £30,960, up from £20,960.  New entrants can be sponsored for up to 4 years on the lower salary threshold.

  • Going rates: The going rates are also increasing and will be set at the 50th percentile (median) of the salary range for the role, rather the 25th percentile as has been the case to date.

As is the case under the current rules, new entrants can still be paid 70% of the full going rate. The new higher going rates for all jobs are shown in Table 1 of the new rules from page 80 (Option A is for standard applications and Option E is for new entrants).

The overall minimum hourly rate is increasing from £10.75 to £15.88 but it will no longer be a separate requirement. Instead is to be incorporated into the new going rates.

Changes for Existing (pre-April 4, 2024) Skilled Workers:

Where someone has been sponsored as a Skilled Worker under the rules before April 4, 2024, in order to extend their stay, change employer/sponsor, or apply for settlement (indefinite leave to remain) the following rules will apply.

  • General salary threshold.  The general salary threshold will increase from £26,200 to £29,000.  The lower general salary threshold for new entrants will be £23,200, up from £20,960.
  • Going rates.  As expected, the going rates will increase but not by as much as for new hires.  Existing Skilled Workers will need to meet the updated (higher) going rates but only at the same 25th percentile, not the median.  The new higher going rates for all jobs for pre-April 4, 2024, Skilled Workers are shown in Table 2 of the new rules from page 124 (Option F is for standard applications and Option J is for new entrants).
Shortage Occupation Changes

Under the current rules, where a job is on the current shortage occupation list, this has meant the UKVI application fee is slightly lower and the salary threshold is slightly reduced because it needs to be the higher of £20,960; 80% of the going rate for the role; or £10.75 per hour.

Following the Migration Advisory Committee’s (MAC) report last month on the shortage occupation list, the following changes will come into force on April 4, 2024:

    • Change of name.  The shortage occupation list will be renamed the Immigration Salary List.
    • Jobs on the list.  Due to the significant increase in the Skilled Worker salary requirements, there will now only be 23 jobs on the Immigration Salary List (see the full list in the table from page 230).  The MAC will carry out a full review of the Immigration Salary List before the end of the year.
    • General salary threshold.  The lower general salary threshold for jobs on the list will increase from £20,960 to £30,960.
    • Going rates.  The current 20% discount on going rates will be removed.  The new higher going rates for all jobs are shown in Table 1 of the new rules from page 80 (Option D is for Immigration Salary List jobs.  However the rates shown appear to be incorrect as they still refer to a 20% discount so presumably the going rates shown in Option A will apply.  We expect this error to be corrected in due course).
    • Existing Skilled Workers.  Pre-April 4, 2024 Skilled Workers sponsored in a shortage occupation list role will need to meet a slightly higher general salary threshold of £23,200 and a slightly increased going rate (see Table 2 from page 124 – Option I).

Eligible asylum seekers granted permission to work in the UK can currently only work in roles on the Shortage Occupation List. Given the Shortage Occupation List’s replacement with the Immigration Salary List, asylum seekers who are eligible and granted permission to work in the UK from April 4, 2024 will only be able to work in roles on the Immigration Salary List.

Note: These measures are on top of changes already implemented in March, where the government removed the right of care workers and senior carers to bring dependents, and introduced a requirement that care providers in England can only sponsor migrant workers if they are undertaking activities regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Other sponsored worker changes from April 4, 2024
  • Senior or Specialist Worker: For Senior or Specialist Workers (previously known as Intra-Company Transferees (ICT) where an employee of a group company outside the UK is transferring to the UK group company) the general salary threshold is being updated from £45,800 to £48,500, and going rates are being increased.
  • Graduate Trainee: Graduate Trainees (applying to transfer from an overseas group company to work at a UK group company as part of a structured graduate programme) the general salary threshold is being updated from £24,220 to £25,410, and going rates will remain based on 70% of the 25th percentile.
  • Review of the Graduate visa route: Overseas students who complete a degree course in the UK can apply to the Graduate visa route for a 2-year visa (or 3 years if they are studying for a PhD). On March 11, 2024, the Home Secretary asked the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to review the Graduate route to “prevent abuse, protect the integrity and quality of UK higher education and ensure it works in the best interests of the UK.” The MAC is due to publish its report by 14 May 2024.


Erickson Insights and Analysis

Due to the rule changes, applicants may prioritize submitting Skilled Worker visa applications before the rule changes (April 4, 2024) to avoid the salary increases. The key date or milestone is when the certificate of sponsorship (CoS) is assigned, not when the visa application is submitted. If the CoS is assigned before April 4, 2024, the current rules will apply even if the visa application is submitted on or after April 4.

The deadline for assigning a CoS under the current rules is 7pm on April 2.

The online sponsor management system (SMS) will be unavailable between the hours of 7pm on Tuesday, April 2, to 9am on Thursday, April 4.  Given the long Easter bank holiday weekend from Friday March 29, to Monday April 1, there is less time to assign any CoS before the deadline.

Erickson Immigration Group will continue to monitor developments and share updates as more news is available. Please contact your employer or EIG attorney if you have questions about anything we’re reporting above or case-specific questions.