Vanessa Ganguin Immigration Law | 2024 UK immigration changes for employers, workers and families

Share this page

We now have more clarity on UK immigration changes that the new Home Secretary has announced designed to reduce net migration and the impacts for employers, workers and families from next month.

You can find these below, together with a round-up of the most important 2024 UK immigration measures that BAB members should be aware of. Anyone with upcoming visa applications likely to be affected is advised to make them as soon as possible.

Hike for Skilled Worker salary thresholds

Employers must pay workers sponsored on a Skilled Worker visa the highest amount of the minimum salary threshold, whatever the UK Government determine is the going rate for the occupation, or generally the hourly rate of £10.75.

Vanessa Ganguin

Managing Partner

Vanessa Ganguin Immigration Law

The Home Office has confirmed that the minimum salary requirement will rise from a current £26,200 to £38,700 on 4 April 2024.

The UK government currently sets the minimum going rates for each occupation using the 25th percentile of UK salaries for that role according to an Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE). From 4 April, the Home Office has said that the 50th percentile (median) of salaries according to the 2023 survey will be used to set going rates. Employers will essentially have to pay sponsored staff more than what half of those working in that occupation code are earning.

So, for example, employers sponsoring human resource managers and directors on Skilled Worker visas should currently pay them at least £36,500 – the Government’s current going rate for that occupation code. A going rate based on the median wage in the latest ASHE survey would be around £49,409 (we anticipate that this will be rounded up to the nearest hundred pounds).

From 1 April, the new national minimum wage will be £11.44, so the minimum hourly rate to sponsor staff should also increase from the current £10.75 per hour.

Those already on the Skilled Worker visa will be spared the above salary threshold hikes when it comes to extending their visa, changing sponsoring employer or applying for settlement. The Home Office has, however, warned that it would expect “pay to progress at the same rate as resident workers; therefore, they would be subject to the updated 25th percentiles using the latest pay data when they next make an application.” In other words, salary should progress at the same rate as resident workers’ earnings may rise.

The general threshold for public sector roles with national pay scales such as teachers will rise from £20,960 to £23,200. New health and care workers not on a pay scale such as care workers will have a new general threshold of £29,000. Unlike other Skilled Worker visas, the occupation-based going rate for those sponsoring new health and care workers will stay at the 25th percentile and pay scale workers continue to be paid according to the national pay scale.

Shortage Occupation List scrapped

The Shortage Occupation List for employers facing UK skills shortages is being scrapped on 4 April, along with its 20% discount on going rates of pay. It will be rebranded as the Immigration Salary List and the number of jobs included is likely  to be reduced.

For example, a new mechanical engineer can currently be sponsored on a salary of £26,400 or over as such roles benefit from the 20% going rate discount on the Shortage Occupation List. The new median going rate with no more 20% discount would be £42,463 – a significantly higher minimum salary (probably rounded up to the nearest hundred pounds) so therefore there will be no benefit in this occupation remaining on the new Immigration Salary List.

All the above measures will be formally added to the UK’s Immigration Rules in a Statement of Changes due to be published on 14 March. The Home Office’s impact statement suggests that these changes should impact just 13% of Skilled Workers and their dependants. Though for industries paying sponsored Skilled Workers under £38,700 there will be a significant impact, especially outside London where wages tend to be lower.

Employers may end up choosing to sponsor more senior staff and increase the hours sponsored staff work. Other employers, especially those in the capital, that pay towards the top end of the pay scale may already be paying over April’s raised thresholds and so will be unaffected.

Care workers’ dependent family

From 11 March, care workers – including senior care workers – will no longer be able to bring family dependants to the UK on sponsored work visas. Those already on this immigration route may still bring dependants to Britain, including when extending their visa, changing employer within the same employment code and applying for settlement.​ However employees in the UK on any other immigration route, including those that permits dependants, who switch to a Skilled Worker care worker visa after the rules change, will not be able to stay with (or bring over) dependants.

Care firms in England will also have to be regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) if they want to sponsor new staff from 11 March. Care providers not registered with the CQC will be able to continue to sponsor the workers they already do in exclusively non-regulated activities, but they will not be able to sponsor new carers without registering.

Graduate visa reviewed

The Graduate visa is useful for international students and employers as it allows international graduates to be hired for two years (three for postgrad courses) without having to sponsor them and without the above salary thresholds. The Home Secretary James Cleverly is set to order a review of this visa at some point this year which should concern the British university sector as well as employers.

No more sponsor licence renewal

The good news for employers with non-resident staff is that from 6 April, all sponsors with a licence expiry date on or after 6 April will no longer need to renew their sponsor licence or to pay a renewal fee. The Home Office has automatically extended licences to sponsor workers by another 10 years in preparation for removing the need for renewals altogether. Eligible sponsors will not need to take any action. If they have already made an application to renew their licence, they will be contacted to arrange a refund.

Sponsors with a licence expiry date before 6 April 2024, however, will still need to apply to renew their sponsor licence and pay a fee one more time.

Minimum income requirement hike for family visas

The minimum income British and settled workers will have to earn to sponsor a partner on a family visa will practically double from £18,600 to £38,700. This will be implemented in stages: initially the minimum income requirement will rise to £29,000 from 11 April 2024, then again in the Autumn to £34,500 and then in in Spring 2025 to £38,700.

The Home Office insists that savings will be able to count too, that exceptions will be considered, and human rights challenges are expected.

Those already holding a family visa, granted a fiancé visa before the threshold hike or applying before the impending increase will continue to have visa applications assessed against the current £18,600 requirement.

Immigration Health Surcharge raised

The Immigration Health Surcharge, compulsory and payable in advance with most visa applications, increased from £624 per year to £1,035 per year (£470 per year to £776 per year for children, students, youth mobility workers) on 6 February.

Illegal working fines triple

On 13 February fines for employers found to have hired anyone without permission to work were hit by the biggest hike in civil penalties since 2014. They have increased from up to £15,000 to up to £45,000 per worker for a first breach. Penalties for repeated breaches have also tripled – up to £60,000, instead of £20,000 per employee. Landlords renting to migrants without the right to rent face similar penalty hikes. Up to date right to work check practices to protect employers are more crucial than ever. Carrying them out correctly affords employers a statutory excuse to prevent civil penalties.

Visitor visa permitted activities

Changes implemented on 31 January expand the permitted activities someone can carry out on a visitor visa to the UK, but fall far short of allowing people to come and work remotely in the UK without a work visa like a so-called “digital nomad.” Visitors may now work remotely from the UK on activities relating to their employment overseas, providing this is not the primary purpose of their visit.

The Standard Visitor visa now allows all the current activities such as attending meetings, interviews, conferences or seminars, site inspections, negotiating and signing deals and contracts, as well as paid engagements allowed under the current Permitted Paid Engagements (PPE) visa for those invited as an expert in a qualifying profession by a qualifying UK-based organisation or client. The one-month PPE visa ceased to exist. However, permitted activities will still have to be carried out in the first 30 days even if visitors stay longer in the UK.

Academics, scientists and researchers can now conduct research in the UK either for a specific project which directly relates to their employment overseas or independently without having to be on sabbatical now. The permitted activities for overseas lawyers have also expanded considerably from 31 January. Visitors can now provide a wider range of legal services which will no longer just have to be for a UK-based client.

The current restriction of visitors working directly with clients was also removed for intra-corporate activities from 31 January. An employee of an overseas company can now advise, trouble-shoot, train and share knowledge with clients for projects or services delivered by a UK branch.

Vanessa Ganguin, Managing Partner at Vanessa Ganguin Immigration Law, is a business and personal immigration specialist with three decades of experience.

For a free chat about these UK immigration developments or any other immigration concerns, members can contact Vanessa on +44 (0) 207 033 9527 or