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General election 2024: what to expect in business immigration

04 July 2024

With polling day well underway, candidates from all parties – like the public – await the results of the 2024 general election.

We have summarised the pledges of Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats in respect of business immigration, so that you can be prepared for potential changes no matter the result.

Labour

  • Prevent any employers who abuse the visa system from hiring overseas workers
  • Link immigration and skills policy to cut net migration
  • Ensure any shortage-based migration triggers a plan to upskill resident workers and improve working conditions in the UK
  • Bring in workforce and training plans in high-migration sectors like health, social care and construction, to reduce reliance on migrant workers.

Conservatives

  • A binding, legal cap on migration each year for five years
  • Increase visa fees, raising skilled worker minimum salary thresholds and family visa income requirements automatically in line with inflation
  • In terms of the immigration health surcharge:
    • introduce health checks for migrants
    • increase the immigration health surcharge or require migrants to buy health insurance if their checks reveal that they are likely to be a ‘burden’ on the NHS
    • remove the student discount to the immigration health surcharge
  • No return to free movement for EU nationals to the UK.

Liberal Democrats

  • Utilise a merit-based system for work visas instead of relying on salary thresholds
  • Introduce an exemption on immigration skills charge for health and care visas and reverse the ban on health and care workers bringing dependents to the UK
  • Transfer powers over work visas, oversea students and asylum to new departments, away from the Home Office
  • Establish a new unit to process visa applications
  • Tailor immigration to local and sectoral requirements
  • Reverse the increased income thresholds for family visas
  • Expand the youth mobility scheme:
    • to include EU countries (on a reciprocal basis)
    • increase the age limit to 35
    • increase the maximum visa length to three years
    • abolish visa fees
  • Award automatic full settled status to all those with pre-settled status
  • Overhaul immigration rules to make them simpler, clearer and fairer
  • Ensure greater Parliamentary scrutiny of future changes
  • Have devolved administrations participate more in UK-wide policy on work permits and student visas.

Whoever enters government this week, it looks to be a time of much change for business immigration. If you are concerned about upcoming changes might impact your business, contact our business immigration experts.

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.

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)
Solicitor
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