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Immigration law: What to expect in 2024

13 December 2023

2024 is shaping up to be full of change in the immigration sphere. Visa fees were increased by around 10-15% in October 2023 (you can find the new fees here), and were promptly overshadowed by new developments and announcements. Here is what to look out for in 2024.

Fee increases

Besides the increase in visa fees, the Immigration Health Surcharge increases on 6 February 2024 to £1,035 per year– a 66% increase. The Immigration Health Surcharge is payable upfront, meaning a migrant worker will need to spend £5,175, on top of their visa fee, for a 5 year visa.

For sponsors, earlier this year the Certificate of Sponsorship fee increased to £239, up from £199. We are also anticipating an increase to the Immigration Skills Charge during 2024.

Right to work sanctions

On 22 January 2024, civil penalties for employers found to be employing illegal workers will triple, to £45,000 per illegal worker for a first breach and £60,000 for repeat breaches. This comes as the Home Office announces its intention to further bolster measures against licenced businesses that hire illegal workers. What those measures will look like remains to be seen, but an increase in raids on illegal working has been promised.

Five Point Plan

The Home Secretary recently announced a five point plan to clamp down on legal migration, with some notable changes.

The minimum salary for skilled worker visas is going to go up to £38,700 in Spring 2024. Those on health and care worker visas will be able to earn less, along with other professions on a national pay scale.

Workers on health and care worker visas will be unable to bring family dependants. The Home Secretary has introduced this measure to prevent alleged abuse of the health and care worker visa route. In addition, care providers will only be able to sponsor migrant workers if they are undertaking activities regulated by the Care Quality Commission.

The shortage occupation list will be cut down, and the 20% salary discount axed. A new Immigration Salary List will be created with 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 minimum income requirements for settled and British citizens who want to bring family to the UK will increase from £18,600 to £38,700.

In addition, the Migration Advisory Committee will review the graduate route due to alleged “abuse”. We anticipate that the main aim of this will be to examine the manner in which graduate visa holders can ‘switch’ into other visa routes.

If your business requires any support on this or any other matter, our team of employment and immigration lawyers can help.

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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.
Hayley Ainsworth BA, MSc
Senior associate, solicitor
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