Government confirms key
dates for work and family
visa reforms

In December 2023, the government unveiled a five-point plan to deliver the biggest ever cut in net migration and curb abuse of the immigration system.

The new package of measures will slash the number of dependants coming to the UK and increase the minimum salaries that overseas workers and British or settled people sponsoring family members must earn, and tackle exploitation across the immigration system.

In a written ministerial statement made on 30 January, the government has now set out a timeline for the implementation of these changes. Each of the reforms will be preceded by a Statement of Changes where more details will be made available.

Below is a timeline of key dates that employers and visa applicants should keep in mind for 2024.

Care worker dependants

On 19 February, the government will publish a Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules which will remove the right for care workers and senior carers to bring dependants with them to the UK. This will come into force on 11 March 2024.

The rules will also ensure that care providers in England can only sponsor migrant workers if they are undertaking activities regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Increased salary thresholds for Skilled Workers

On 14 March, another Statement of Changes will be released which sets out a new minimum salary threshold for those applying for a visa under the Skilled Worker route.

The minimum general salary threshold for Skilled Workers will rise by 48% from £26,200 to £38,700, coming into force from 4 April 2024.

Those already in the Skilled Worker route before the changes will be exempted from the higher salary threshold, as will those on the Health and Care Worker route and workers on national pay scale occupations.

Increased earnings threshold for family visas

The minimum income requirement for partners applying under Appendix FM is being increased, to bring it in line with the new minimum general salary threshold for Skilled Workers.

The minimum income for family visas will be increased incrementally in stages, with the first increase set to be outlined in the 14 March Statement of Changes.

From 11 April 2024, the minimum income requirement for this category will rise to £29,000. No dates have been announced for the further incremental increases, but the government has indicated that the final increase will be introduced by early 2025.

Those who already have a family visa within the five-year partner route, or who apply before the minimum income threshold is raised, will continue to have their applications assessed against the current income requirement and will not be required to meet the increased threshold.

Other changes

The above reforms are in addition to further changes to the immigration rules that have already been announced and are set to come into effect on various dates throughout 2024:

  • The Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme will be expanded to more nationalities this year, as part of a phased roll-out. The scheme was opened to Qatari nationals in November 2023. On 1 February 2024 the scheme will be extended to the remaining Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries – Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, UAE – and Jordan. Other nationalities will be added to the scheme this year.
  • From 6 February 2024, the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) is increasing from £624 to £1,035 per year for adults, and from £470 to £776 per year for under 18s.
  • From 6 April 2024, the Home Office will remove the requirement for sponsors to renew their sponsor licence.
  • From early April, the 20% ‘going rate’ discount for shortage occupations is being removed, and the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) is being replaced with a new Immigration Salary List (ISL).
  • As part of the moved towards a fully digital end-to-end immigration system, the government is phasing out physical documents such as Biometric Residence Permits (BRPs) and replacing them with eVisas. From 1 January 2025, holders will need to obtain a UKVI account to prove their status digitally.

Keep up to date with UK immigration changes

2024 is set to be another year of significant changes for the UK’s immigration rules. It is important for employers and visa applicants to be aware of the current rules and how this may impact their global mobility plans.

To keep up to date with the latest changes in UK immigration, please sign up to our free news service. If you have a specific immigration query you’d like to discuss with a qualified advisor, please contact us today.

Share story
Back to top of page