In a significant move aimed at fulfilling the Brexit promise of reclaiming control over borders, Home Secretary James Cleverly has announced a comprehensive 5-step immigration plan. This strategic initiative, coming in the wake of the Conservative party’s Rwanda deportation scheme setback, marks the most substantial reduction in immigration in recent British history. As the net migration reaches a record high of 745,000 people in 2023, the government is keen on implementing fair, consistent, legal, and sustainable immigration policies.
New Rules and Their Impact on the Average Person:
- Minimum Salary Increases for Skilled Worker Visas: The minimum salary for a UK skilled worker visa is set to rise from £26,200 to £38,700 per year. Notably, health and care workers are exempt from this increase, providing some relief for essential services.
- Family Visa Minimum Income Requirement Surge: Families seeking visas will now face an increased minimum income requirement, jumping from £18,600 to £38,700 per year. This shift will particularly impact those residing outside of London or the South-East of England.
- Restrictions on Care Workers Bringing Dependents: Care workers will no longer be permitted to bring dependents to the UK. This decision, triggered by the issuance of over 120,000 visas to care worker dependents in 2023, raises concerns within the care sector about exacerbating existing staff shortages.
- Health Surcharge Hike: The health surcharge, the fee visa holders pay for access to the NHS, will increase from £624 to £1,035. While exceptions are made for health and care workers, as well as reduced rates for students and those under 18, this change will impact the majority of immigrants.
- Scrapping Salary Discounts on Shortage Occupation List: The government’s decision to eliminate salary discounts on the shortage occupation list aims to prevent immigration from undercutting British workers. While this move is expected to reduce net migration by 300,000, experts warn of potential risks to the health sector and long-term economic damage.
Concerns and Reactions:
This ambitious immigration plan has stirred concerns about exacerbating the already critical shortage of care workers in England, with 152,000 vacancies. Former Conservative minister George Eustice highlighted the potential pitfalls of a skills-based immigration policy, emphasizing the challenges in recruiting essential workers in areas such as care, food, and manufacturing.
In conclusion, the unexpected breadth of the immigration plan, effectively reinstating elements of the pre-Brexit immigration system, has triggered a significant shift in the landscape. As the nation grapples with these changes, individuals, especially those in essential services, will need to navigate the evolving immigration landscape, adapting to new criteria and requirements that directly impact their lives.