The Home Secretary’s ‘five-point plan’ and what this means for employers

Posted Thursday 7th December 2023

The new ‘five-point plan’ for legal migration was announced by the Home Secretary on 4 December, adding further changes to consider for what will already be a busy year for immigration reform in 2024. The Home Secretary aims to reduce net migration by up to 300,000 throughout 2024 with the influx of new restrictions, many of which will impact UK employers.

The five-point plan can be briefly set out as follows:

  1. Removal of the option for individuals on Health & Care visas to sponsor dependants, as well as requiring the sponsoring care organisations to hold CQC registration;
  2. A significant increase in the Skilled Worker general minimum salary from £26,200 to £38,700 (excluding existing exemptions);
  3. An end to the Shortage Occupation List’s salary discount (currently 20% of the going rate);
  4. Alongside the Skilled Worker general minimum salary increase, the basic minimum income threshold for family members will significantly increase from £18,600 to £38,700; and
  5. A review of the Graduate route, with the expectation that further restrictions may be placed on this route in due course.

The increase to the Skilled Worker salary will be of most concern to employers generally, with many roles now expected to become ineligible for sponsorship purely due to the relevant salary bands. As a consequence, the talent pool for employers across all sectors will significantly reduce.

Such changes are not expected to impact individuals already in the UK, although more clarification will be required on the impact for individuals seeking to extend their leave on these routes.

The review of the Graduate route – alongside the implication that it is currently being abused as a route and that further restrictions are necessary – may also concern employers who currently recruit from the Graduate talent pool, given that they do not require sponsorship during this two year visa. More details on potential changes are not expected until the Migration Advisory Committee’s review has taken place.

This article is for reference purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be sought separately before taking or deciding not to take any action.

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