2024 has seen a revamp of legal migration rules, bringing in stricter requirements for both family and work visas. Higher income thresholds and more rigorous sponsorship guidelines are among the changes, increasing the challenge of securing legal status in the UK for immigrants. It is essential that these changes are understood, particularly as they bring obstacles for migrant care workers wanting to live and work in the UK. These changes don't just make it more difficult for migrant care workers to navigate the system, but they also influence the future of the care sector as a whole. We will explore the impacts on these new rules and how they could affect you.
Anticipated changes are as follows:
- Social care workers will not be allowed to bring dependants (partners and children) on their visa.
- The baseline minimum salary to be sponsored for a Skilled Worker visa will rise from £26,200 to £38,700 (but not for the Health and Care Worker visa, which includes social care, or for education workers on national pay scales).
- Changes to the shortage occupation list to significantly reduce the number of jobs where it will be possible to sponsor overseas workers below the baseline minimum salary.
- The minimum income normally required to sponsor someone for a spouse/partner visa will rise from £18,600 to £38,700.
- The Migration Advisory Committee will review the Graduate visa, which is a two-year unsponsored work permit for overseas graduates of British universities.
These new rules were released on the 15th of December with changes potentially coming into effect over the coming months. On the 2nd of January they clarified some concerns which include:
- Care workers and senior care workers already in the route will be able to remain with their dependants, including extending, changing employer and settlement.
- Where a care worker or senior care worker is in the route before the Immigration Rules change, but has not yet brought dependants, they will be allowed to bring dependants during their sponsorship (on this visa).
- Individuals who are in the UK on any other route, including where that route permits dependants, who switch into the care visa as a care worker or senior care worker after this date, will not be able to stay with (or bring over) dependants.
- Care providers who were sponsoring workers in exclusively non-regulated activities (and therefore not required to be registered with the CQC) before the rules change should be able to continue to sponsor these workers, including for extensions to their visa on those terms, but not hire new ones.
The government is anticipating that their new measures to prevent care workers and senior care workers from accessing visas for dependents would lead to 120,000 dependents not coming to the country. They also expect a 22% reduction of applications from England due to the organisations in question not being CQC registered. This would lead to a further 20,000 people not being granted visas.
The care sector, heavily reliant on foreign labour, is feeling the pressure from the revised migration laws. The stricter visa regulations have increased the complexity and costs of hiring overseas care workers, presenting a new challenge for employers in the industry. This heightened difficulty and expense in recruiting foreign care staff could result in a decrease in their employment, lowering the existing shortage of workers in the care sector.