Mumbai: A Y & J Solicitors, a leading immigration and visa advisory in London, United Kingdom, has released a strategic note titled ‘UK Immigration Outlook 2024’ highlighting major developments in the UK’s immigration and visa policies having a bearing on immigrants from the countries like India.

While releasing the Note, Mr. Yash Dubal, a lawyer of Indian origin and a director and a senior immigration associate of A Y & J Solicitors, has anticipated more debate on the issue of the United Kingdom’s immigration and expected more measures to be proposed and introduced throughout the year 2024 being an election year. He said, “Last year, net migration reached a record total of 745,000, which many British people feel is too high. Both the main political parties, the Conservatives and Labour, are now promising measures to stop illegal immigration and to reduce the number of legal migrants who arrive in Britain.

The Note pointed out that on January 1, 2021, the UK introduced a new points-based immigration system after its exit from the EU. Tweaking the system further, on July 13, 2023, the UK Government announced a hike in most UK visa application fees by between 15 to 35% that came into effect in October 2023.

A Y & J Solicitors has further observed that no earlier than mid–January, the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS), which is a fee paid by visa holders excluding Health and Care visa holders and their dependents, will rise by 66% from £624 to £1035 per person per year. “The fee applies to workers and family members staying in the UK for a period of six months or more, and the increase applies to both migrants and family members of British citizens applying under family visa routes. Students, children, and youth mobility visa holders will see their IHS rate rise from £470 to £776 per year,” observed the Note.

For a Skilled Worker visa minimum salary threshold, in order to meet the criteria to qualify for a general Skilled Worker visa, most applicants must be paid a minimum of £26,200 a year (the threshold does not apply to health and care workers). The first minimum income increase will come into effect in spring 2024; and rise to around £34,500 at an unspecified time but likely later in 2024, and finally to around £38,700 in early 2025, predicts the Note.

The Note reads that with regards to the Shortage Occupation List, no firm decisions have been made, but the Government has committed to 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’. These changes will happen no earlier than April 2024.

Changes in UK immigration law include barriers that prevent students from bringing their dependents to the UK, as well as making it harder for them to obtain a work visa. International students are no longer allowed to bring their partner or children on dependent visas unless they are in a Ph.D. program or a postgraduate research program, clarifies the Note.

The Graduate visa, which allows international students to work in any job in the UK for two years after graduating is under review. “It is expected that restrictions will be added, it may be scrapped altogether. It will also be harder for students to switch directly on to Skilled Worker visas because the baseline minimum salary to be sponsored is set to increase from £26,200 to £38,700. The average graduate salary in the UK is just over £33,000, well below the proposed threshold,” added Mr Dubal.

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