UK Work Visas: Minimum Salary Rise, Policy Shifts & Impact

UK Work Visas
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The UK is an irresistible destination for talented individuals due to its thriving economy and internationally acclaimed universities. One important work visa pathway has been the Skilled Worker Visa, which is utilised by IT experts, healthcare professionals, and other professionals. But with the elimination of the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) and large wage threshold rises, new immigration policy reforms are drastically changing the picture. Businesses with sponsor licences looking to sponsor foreign talent through the issuance of Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) would be significantly impacted by these developments.

The UK government’s announcement of a substantial hike in the minimum salary threshold for Skilled Worker Visa sponsorship (excluding Health and Care Worker Visas), from £26,200 to £38,700 effective April 4, 2024, has sent shockwaves through the immigration system. This policy shift goes beyond streamlining talent acquisition; it’s a clear attempt to reduce immigration numbers. Further restrictions, like the removal of dependant rights for certain visa categories, reinforce this objective.

The announcement triggered a surge in visa applications as individuals rushed to secure visas under the current lower salary threshold. This surge has placed significant strain on immigration services already contending with Brexit complexities and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Talent Shortages, Rising Costs, and CoS Challenges

UK businesses reliant on skilled foreign labor face new challenges. The increased sponsorship costs associated with the higher salary threshold threaten to exacerbate existing talent shortages in sectors like technology. With the removal of the Shortage Occupation List, businesses will no longer have the option of reduced salary requirements for in-demand roles, further increasing costs and making it more difficult to secure the necessary CoS to sponsor workers. Industry leaders and associations are voicing concerns about the policy’s impact on their ability to find and retain skilled workers, potentially impacting business growth and the UK’s global competitiveness.

Salary Changes and Challenges for Healthcare Workers

The Health and Care Worker Visa route is subject to its own salary adjustments. Effective April 4, 2024, the minimum salary for most roles under this visa increases from £20,960 to £23,200. Healthcare workers must be paid the higher amount if the typical salary (“going rate”) for their specific job exceeds this minimum. Specific rates apply to nurses, midwives, and some allied health professionals, while healthcare workers with PhDs relevant to their job may still be eligible for some flexibility.

The Healthcare Challenge

The healthcare sector serves as a prime example of potential policy pitfalls. Increased salary requirements for healthcare roles and new sponsorship rules for care workers (including CQC registration requirements for employers) could exacerbate existing staffing shortages. Healthcare representatives have expressed deep concern about the impact on their ability to provide quality patient care and the UK’s future ability to address labor shortages in the sector. The added hurdle of higher salary costs impacting their ability to secure CoS further compounds the challenges faced by healthcare employers.

The increase in the Skilled Worker Visa salary threshold (with the exception of the Health and Care Worker Visa), along with the removal of the Shortage Occupation List, marks a critical juncture in UK immigration policy. The government it seems wants more highly skilled professionals to reduce immigration levels. However, the overall objective of reducing immigration numbers carries significant risks, particularly regarding employers’ ability to obtain the necessary skilled workers to address workforce needs. Time will reveal the policy’s long-term impact on the UK’s workforce, economy, and global standing.

Imperial Hospital Sylhet

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Daily Dazzling Dawn is the first and only international and non-profitable newspaper, which is 100% ownership of professional journalists from Bangladeshi origin with 20 years of experience in global journalism. The main aim of the newspaper is promoting ethical journalism with truth, accuracy and proficiency.

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Dulal Ahmed Chowdhury

Dulal Ahmed Chowdhury is the Editor of The Daily Dazzling Dawn. Previously, he has been serving in important positions in all the famous national dailies of the Bangladesh since the nineties. He has played a commendable role in journalism by participating in various events at the national and international levels. United Nations Conference, World Climate Conference, SAARC Summit are notable among them.

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