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Business Immigration: Significant changes to take place in April 2024

03 April 2024

Last December, the Home Secretary announced a five-point plan to reduce immigration in the UK, with most measures to be implemented early this year. Tomorrow, these significant changes to business immigration are to take place.

In our previous article, we offered an overview of these upcoming changes. Since then, the Home Office has released further details, including the long-awaited effective dates of the upcoming changes. It has been announced that many of the planned changes will come into effect on 4 April 2024.

Skilled worker minimum salary increase

From 4 April 2024 (the date), the minimum salary threshold for Skilled Worker visas is going to go up to £38,700, or the going rate of the role. Those on Health and Care Worker visas will be able to earn less, along with other professions on a national pay scale.

These changes will affect any application for entry clearance or permission to stay supported by a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) assigned on or after the date.

The Home Office also confirmed that those who had a Skilled Worker visa before the date – and applies to extend it or for settlement before 4 April 2030 – only needs to meet a salary threshold of £29,000, rather than the new threshold of £38,700, which many will welcome.

Changes to occupation codes

Another change coming in on 4 April 2024 relates to occupation codes. The Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) 2010 system currently used will be replaced with the newer SOC 2020 system. This will include changes to some occupation code numbers and job descriptions alike.

Any application for entry clearance or permission to stay supported by a CoS assigned on or after the date will need to comply with the new Standard Occupational Classification 2020 system.

The Immigration Salary List is to replace the Shortage Occupation List

An interim Immigration Salary List, replacing the Shortage Occupation List, will be introduced on 4 April 2024. The number of occupations on the list is to be cut down, and the 20% salary discount to the minimum salary levels will be removed.

The Immigration Salary List will have a general threshold discount. This means that, for any occupations on the new list, they will all need to meet a certain salary threshold, which will be less than £38,700.

The Home Office already announced that the list will be further reviewed later this year.

Changes to spouse and partner visa minimum income

On 11 April 2024, the minimum income requirements for settled and British citizens who want to bring family to the UK will increase initially from £18,600 to £29,000. The Home Office announced that further increase to around £34,500 will come later this year, with the final increase to £38,700 by early 2025.

Upcoming unavailability of the Sponsorship Management System

The Home Office also announced that Sponsorship Management System (SMS) will be unavailable from 7pm on 2 April 2024 until 9am on 4 April 2024 to implement the changes above. During this time, it will not be possible to:

  • apply for a sponsor licence, to add routes to your licence, or renew your licence
  • apply for any Skilled Worker Defined CoS
  • ask to increase or renew of the allocation of undefined CoS
  • assign any CoS to workers sponsors wishes to sponsor.

What should sponsors do?

There appears to be a shift in the Home Office’s approach to application processing, with increased scrutiny on new sponsor licences. Many sponsors are currently facing significant delays with various applications, especially those aiming to assign certificates of sponsorship.

Additionally, reports indicate a rise in the frequency of compliance visits and audits.

If you need any assistance managing such changes, please reach out to our business immigration team.

Contact us

Our Legal 500-rated employment law & business immigration team are experts in guiding businesses of all sizes and backgrounds through a range of issues that may arise, including those related to sponsorship.

Disclaimer: All legal information is correct at the time of publication but please be aware that laws may change over time. This article contains general legal information but should not be relied upon as legal advice. Please seek professional legal advice about your specific situation - contact us; we’d be delighted to help.
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Klára Grmelová MGR (LLM Czech)
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