5 Changes Affecting Family and Work Visas: Legal Migration Updates 2024

Legal Migration Updates 2024

On December 4, 2023, Home Secretary James Cleverly and the Prime Minister announced a plan to stop illegal immigration and lower net migration. These 5 changes affecting family and work visas. One of the steps was a promise to change visa limits in the future. The Home Office gave out more information on December 21, which included changes to the original statements.

Allow me to count the 5 Changes Affecting Family and Work Visas

  1. People with work visas in the social care field could not bring their spouses or young children.
  2. To get a skilled worker visa, sponsors will no longer have to show they make at least £26,200 a year. However, this increase does not apply to people who work in education or social care, where pay falls under national standards.
  3. The main goal of the lack of employment list is to get fewer jobs that can hire foreign workers with pay below the bare minimum wage.
  4. From £18,600 to £29,000 and finally, to around £38,700, the regular minimum income to sponsor a husband or partner for a visa will increase.
  5. The Migration Advisory Committee will review the cases of graduates from a British university working outside the UK for two years and wanting to get a graduate visa.

When should we expect the changes?

“From next spring,” the Home Secretary said, that’s when everyone thought they would become law. The review of graduate visas was the only time this wasn’t true. Now, different measures have given other due dates: “As soon as possible in the new year,” we will not allow new care workers to bring their family members.

The minimum wage for skilled workers will go up in April 2024.

April 2024 is the last day to change the list of short-supplied jobs.

Before going up to its final level of around £38,700 “in early 2025,” the minimum income for husband or partner visas will go up to £29,000 in “spring 2024,” an unknown amount in 2024 (most likely later that year), and around £34,500 at some point in the future.

The process of evaluating Graduate visas might start in January and go on until “late 2024” at the earliest.

If there is notice when exactly are the changes going to happen?

Except for starting the review of graduate visas, all of these steps would need statements of changes to the Immigration Rules. Making change comments public is essential to bringing them to Parliament’s attention. 

This is because the law doesn’t say when words have to take effect. Usually, there is a 21-day wait between filing the statement and the changes taking effect, but in practice, this time is often much longer. They plan to change care worker dependents in early January, which could mean the changes happen faster than this standard suggests.

Next year, the government wants to publicize more policy details without going through the legal process. Possible additions are more precise dates for implementation.

Will politicians vote to accept the changes, reject them, or make changes to them?

Not likely at all. Overturning the Immigration Rules will happen immediately if neither the House of Lords nor the House of Commons does anything within forty days. You can oppose the changes by submitting an Early Day motion, but the government is not required to hold a vote in the Commons. Votes usually do not happen.

It takes a vote to change the Immigration Rules, and once it happens, there’s no going back. You could also wholly reject them.

There is no need for more laws.

The government’s choice to implement these changes makes me wonder: why?

“Far too high” is how the ministers describe immigrants. The first guess for net migration, the difference between the number of people who came to the country and those who left in the twelve months ending December 31, 2022, was 745,000.

The Home Office said in a news release that these changes would have prevented the 300,000 people who came to the UK last year from getting in. In the meantime, it has shared the results related to this number. Changes to factors that depend on students were announced separately in May 2023. They are responsible for about 140,000 of the 300,000 drop that could happen.

Does the £29,000 limit only apply to people applying for their first visa, or does it apply to spouse or partner visa extensions after spring 2024?

This is for people sending their applications for the first time only. The Home Office made it clear on December 21 that the higher income level would not apply to visa extensions, even though they had said earlier that it would. “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,” the news stated. 

People who have been in the country on a spouse or partner visa and now want permanent status (also called “settlement” or “indefinite leave to remain”) must also show proof of their income. This exception also covers them as written. In the coming year, the Home Office will outline the “full details of transitional provisions.”

Are the applicant’s and sponsor’s incomes enough to reach the £18,600/£29,000 goal?

Anyone filing for a first visa from outside the UK can only have their sponsor’s income looked at to see if they meet the minimum income standard. Extensions and permanent status are based on both earnings. People often have to prove that they made that much money in the last six months, even though the rules are complicated.

You can do a few things if you want to apply for a visa but need the minimum income. You can use savings of more than £16,000 or show exceptional circumstances. The Home Office has stated this will still be possible despite the higher standard.

Would the savings you need change if you didn’t have any pay?

As long as everything else stays the same, the current rules say people must save more when their primary income increases. With only a £29,000 increase in income, the highest savings minimum would go up to £88,500, up from £62,000. Reports say the government is still “consulting over whether to increase it” before setting a spending goal, so official information on the subject is, at best, vague.

Like the main income rule, people usually need to have saved the required amount for at least six months before they can apply.

Are there minimum income requirements in other countries similar to spouse visas?

For many countries, showing that they have enough money is a condition. Making precise comparisons is complicated because the requirements and assessments are sometimes different. Other countries, like Norway and Belgium, have made it a requirement for their minimum wage. However, our library’s study has not yet found any examples of limits set at or near £38,700, which is the amount the UK government wants to reach.

MIPEX, which stands for Migrant Integration Policy Measure, is a measure that people against the minimum income policy often use. According to a 2020 list of 56 countries ranked by how easy it was for families to get back together, the UK stood second from the bottom. Needs for economic resources are one of many things that are looked at when ranking countries for family reunions.

Will people with a Skilled Worker visa have to meet the new, higher wage requirement of £38,700?

No. For people already in skilled work way or who applied before the rules changed, the Minister for Legal Migration said that the new wage level of £38,700 will not apply. This is true whether they are changing jobs, staying longer, or settling down.

In some situations, supporting someone for a Skilled Worker visa is possible even if their pay is slightly less than the minimum wage. “New entrants” to the job are people who have just finished their PhD and are younger than 26. Aside from the significant changes made to the list of jobs in short supply, there has yet to be any sign that this will change.