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UK unveils ‘radical action’ on foreign workers to curb immigration

UK unveils ‘radical action’ on foreign workers to curb immigration
Courtesy: AlxeyPnferov | iStock Via Getty Images

The British government has unveiled a new five-point plan to reduce immigration which covers banning care workers from bringing over their families and increasing the minimum salary for a skilled worker visa.

The changes, tabled in the House of Commons by UK Home Secretary James Cleverly, have been branded as “radical action” by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to bring down record-high immigration numbers.

The set of changes that will come in force from early next year include:

•        Health and Care visas: Overseas care workers will not be able to bring family dependants, to end the "abuse of the health and care visa" and care firms that want to sponsor people for visa applications will need to be regulated by the Care Quality Commission.

•        Skilled Worker visa: The salary threshold for an application will rise to £38,700 – although health and care workers will still be able to earn less before applying for the route.

•        Shortage Occupation List: Axing the 20 per cent discount applied to the minimum salary for people looking for a visa for shortage occupations. The types of jobs on the list will also be reviewed and reduced.

•        Family visas: The minimum threshold for a family visa will also be raised to £38,700 to "ensure people only bring dependants whom they can support financially".

•        Student visas: The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) will review the Graduate route "to prevent abuse and protect the integrity and quality of UK higher education".

The changes were widely expected after the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) data revealed that net migration to the UK had hit 672,000 in the 12 months until June 2023. This was lower than 745,000 for the same period last year but Sunak had admitted soon after that the figure remains far too high. However, in his speech at the Global Investment Summit last week, he admitted to the massive contribution made by overseas skilled workers.

He said: “We don’t have a monopoly on talent in this country, and we recognise that nearly half of our most innovative companies have an immigrant founder.

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“So, if you’re an innovator, an entrepreneur, a researcher, you should know that the most competitive visa regime for highly skilled international talent is right here in the United Kingdom.” 

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