Future of Family-Based Visas in the UK
We now have more information about the new UK government immigration rules that have confused companies hiring foreign workers and individuals aiming to move to the UK with a partner from another country. The short statement that Home Secretary James Cleverly made right before Christmas answered only a few questions. Official answers from ministers and a new Home Office fact sheet have now made some of them more transparent. Below, I’ve compiled a list of what HR teams need to know about these changes, especially regarding the future of family-based visas. There are new higher pay limits and a considerable increase in the Immigration Health Surcharge that could affect people wanting to move to the UK shortly (see below). These should be made quickly, with help from a professional, in case something goes wrong the first time.
Care Worker Visas: Restrictions on Family Dependents
On their approved work visas, care workers, even senior care workers, will no longer be able to bring family members to the UK. This is something that the Care Quality Commission needs to do if they want to help care workers. These changes will occur “as soon as possible in the new year.”
This will stay the same for carers already in the UK on this path. They can still bring their dependents to Britain and visit with them. They can also stretch their visa, change jobs within the same Standard Occupational Classification, and apply to live in the UK. People already in the UK who came here through a different immigration path and then switched to the skilled worker group as care workers or senior care workers after the rules changed cannot bring their dependents or stay with them.
It is expected that care providers supporting workers for activities not controlled by the CQC before the rules changed will still be able to do so, even if they need to extend their visas under the same conditions. They won’t be able to fund any new ones, though.
Hike in Minimum Income Requirement for Family-Based Visas
To bring their partner to the UK on a family visa, the government wants to almost double the minimum income requirement from £18,600 to £38,700. This means that 70% of the UK population cannot afford it. The plan seems to be still going ahead in a second U-turn, but not this spring. This is making anyone trying to keep up very dizzy. I’m not sure what you call two U-turns in a row.
The Prime Minister insisted, “We’re doing exactly what we said we would”, the day after the Government said that the £38,700 minimum income requirement wouldn’t happen in the spring, as the Home Secretary had told parliament last month. Instead, there would be three increases that would add up to that vast amount. We’re only doing it twice. That’s why it’s going to go up in a few months. It will go up again to the total amount in early 2025.
Uncertain Political Landscape and General Election Impact
According to Rishi Sunak, the Home Office will raise the amount of money a British or settled person must make to show they can support a partner. It will go from £18,600 to £29,000 in the spring of 2024. The income limit won’t increase until early 2025, when it hits £38,700. It’s possible that a future government in the UK will not want to raise the minimum income to as high as £38,700 because there will be an election at the end of 2024. Bringing independent children will no longer require an extra minimum income.
The UK Government says that British and settled people will still be able to use funds and the minimum income requirement to show that they can support a partner on a family visa who depends on them. They also say exceptions will be for people who can’t meet the standards. Following the new rules, 40% to 50% of British workers may be unable to support a partner on a family visa with just their salary, even if it’s only £29,000.
Transitional Measures for Existing Applications
If you already have a family visa or apply before the minimum income requirement goes up this spring, your application will still be based on the current income requirement of £18,600. You will not have to meet the higher level. Also, kids who want to join or go with parents who already have permission (or ask for permission) before the rules change shouldn’t be disadvantaged. If someone gets a fiancé visa before the minimum income requirement goes up, they will also have to meet the new income requirement when they apply for a family visa through the five-year partner route.
People already in the UK on a different route and then try to switch to the five-year partner path after the minimum income requirement has been raised will have to meet the new requirement.