U.K. govt introduces fresh visa rules to further control migration

To reduce net immigration, the U.K. has announced a new set of measures for people with plans to move to the country. 

U.K. govt introduces fresh visa rules to further control migration
Photo by Sumit / Unsplash

Seeing net migration soar to new levels in the past few years, the British government has, in response, repackaged its visa rules. 

Foreign workers must now earn a minimum of £38,700 ($48,800) before they are eligible for a work visa; it used to be £26,200 ($33,000). What’s more, the list of jobs with exceptions due to shortages will be reformed and the rules catering to health and social care workers bringing in families toughened. 

People residing in the U.K., including British citizens, will be permitted to bring in family members only if they earn up to £38,700. The income cap for this route is currently £18,600 ($23,400). The £38,700 minimum also applies to family visas.

There will be restrictions on international students bringing in dependents as of April next year, and the initiative that lets companies pay foreign staff 20% below the going rate in shortage will be trashed. The surcharge migrants pay to access the NHS will be revised by 66% to £1,035 ($1,300).

This five-point agenda, which was unveiled by Interior Minister James Cleverly in the Commons, is believed capable of cutting the number of people coming to the U.K. by 30,000. That is a quarter of the total 1.2 million migrants to Britain throughout 2022. 

According to Cleverly, the plan, coupled with the current ban on masters students from bringing in a total of 150,000 relatives yearly, would lead to the country’s biggest-ever reduction in net migration.

“Migration to this country is far too high – and needs to come down. Today, we are taking more robust action than any government before to bring this down. Since my first day in the Home Office just three weeks ago, I have been determined to crack down on those who try to jump the queue and exploit our immigration system,” he told lawmakers. 

Cleverly also said he has asked the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) for a review on the route which allows foreign students to remain in the U.K. for two years without work when they have completed their undergraduate or postgraduate studies. 

However, the MAC was against the revision over concerns of students using the route as a back door to the jobs market, where they can get two years’ worth of work for the price of one year’s degree. 

Net migration to the U.K. hit an all-time high of 745,000 in the year to December 2022, triple the pre-Brexit levels of 239,000. 

In the run-up to the elections expected next year, conservative members of the parliament have pressured Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s administration to strike a balance between the numbers of people entering and leaving the country. 

Reportedly, as part of this scheme, Cleverly is likely to visit Kigali, Rwanda some time this week to sign a new asylum treaty with the East African country. 

Get weekly insights on tech startups and VC in Africa