A New Income Threshold of £38,000 Will Not be Applied to the Extension of Visas For Already Employed Skilled Workers, According to the Minister of Immigration

When a skilled worker changes sponsors, extends their employment, or settles, they should be exempt from the new median salary levels.

Minister for Legal Migration and Delivery Tom Pursglove gave additional, clear information about the immigration changes announced by the Home Secretary on December 4 in a Parliamentary answer yesterday. He also explained how the new £38,700 minimum salary threshold for skilled workers will affect current visa holders.

The Home Secretary initially provided no information on whether the new criteria would also apply to existing visa holders when renewing their visas. Immigration Minister Tom Pursglove stated yesterday that people already on the skilled worker visa path will not be subject to the increased requirement when they change jobs, extend their stay, or settle.

Labour MP Clive Betts questioned the Home Secretary last week regarding the increased salary requirements for skilled worker visa applications, including when they will go into effect and whether they will have an impact on (a) current applications, (b) renewals, and (c) people who are currently in the UK.

Yesterday, Tom Pursglove stated in response to the query that the Immigration Rules will maintain the present salary, minimum income requirement thresholds, and regulations concerning dependents at their current levels until they modify them next spring. When they change jobs, extend their employment, or settle down, those who are currently in the skilled work path and applications submitted before the regulations’ modification will not be subject to the new £38,700 wage level.”

The Home Office published a fact sheet this evening with more details on the modifications in order to provide additional clarification. It affirms that the government will raise the ‘going rate’ standards for each occupation to match the median full-time income for comparable employment in 2023 and boost the minimum earnings barrier for skilled worker visas from £26,200 to £38,700 in April 2024. The factsheet states the following about current visa holders: “Those who were already in the skilled worker route prior to the changes in the Immigration Rules should not be subject to the new median salary levels when they settle, change sponsors, or extend their stay.

When they apply to change jobs, extend their stay, or settle down again, they will be subject to the updated 25th percentiles based on the most recent pay data, as we would expect their salary to progress at the same rate as that of resident workers. This is consistent with standard procedure.”

Employees under the Health and Social Care Visa route will not be subject to the new pay threshold. This evening, the Home Office said that educators who work in occupations that fall under the national wage scale will also be exempt.

Yesterday, Tom Pursglove reiterated, as he did on December 11th, his commitment to implementing transitional measures. He said he would disclose complete specifics along with revealing additional policy elements.

This evening’s Home Office brief further clarifies how the December 4 statement will affect care workers in the UK. The Home Secretary announced on December 4th that, from the spring of 2024, carers entering the UK will not be allowed to bring any dependents with them. Additionally, carer organizations will need to register with the Care Quality Commission to sponsor visas.

The recently released Home Office factsheet states that they will implement the following modifications for carers “as soon as possible” in the upcoming year.

  • Care workers (SOC code 6145) and senior care workers (SOC code 6146) currently on the route will receive the ability to stay with dependents.This includes the ability to extend, change employers (within these SOC codes), and settle.
  • Before the change in immigration rules, a care worker or senior care worker who hasn’t yet brought dependents with them will have the opportunity to bring them along for the duration of their sponsorship (on this visa).
  • After this date, the UK will not permit individuals entering through any other route, even those permitting dependents, to switch to a care worker or senior care worker visa while staying with or bringing their dependents.
  • Before the rules changed, care providers that were sponsoring workers in only non-regulated activities (and so exempt from CQC registration requirements) should be allowed to keep sponsoring those workers, even if it means extending their visas under those conditions, but they should not be allowed to acquire new employees.”