On 4 December 2023, the Home Secretary James Cleverly announced that the government is introducing a ‘five-point plan’ designed to reduce immigration to the UK.
These changes, if they are implemented, will have hugely negative effects on migrants already in the UK and those who come to the UK. It is a cruel policy which represents an attack on individuals and families, all in order to further the Tory government’s agenda to appear ‘tough’ on immigration.
This so-called ‘five point plan’ has been very unpopular and faced criticism. It has also been incredibly badly explained, and as a result there have been many concerned questions from members of our community about what exactly this will mean.
This short legal update blog will outline the plan as it currently stands.
What is the government’s ‘five point plan’?
The plan is made up of the following five changes:
- People arriving to the UK on the Health and Social Care Visa can no longer bring family dependants (this means children or a partner) with them to the UK.
- The salary requirement for a Skilled Worker Visa will be increased from £26,200 to £38,700 – an increase of almost 50%. Health and Social Care workers will be exempt from this increase.
- The Shortage Occupation List (SOL) will be scrapped. The SOL is a list published by the Home Office that shows jobs that have a shortage (not enough workers) and allows that people in these professions can be hired at 20% below the going rate. The proposal is to replace the Shortage Occupation List with the new Immigration Salary List with a far reduced number of occupations. This will reduce the numbers of people who are seeking asylum who are able to work. Read more about applying for permission to work as an asylum seeker here.
- The salary requirement for someone arriving on a Family Visa will be increased from £18,600 to £38,700, the same salary requirement as for the Skilled Worker Visa. This is likely to affect people in Britain who would like to bring a partner from overseas with them to the UK, and will mean that families are cruelly separated.
- A commitment to ‘review’ the Graduate Visa to ensure it works in the best interests of the UK and to take steps to ‘prevent abuse’.
When will the ‘five point plan’ be introduced?
At the moment, we do not have more details about these changes. We only have the announcement itself, and this government factsheet. The government has said more details will be published in February or March 2023, and the changes themselves will be in Spring 2024 (an exact date has not yet been given).
When this news was first introduced, there were many questions about whether the increase to the salary requirement for someone on a family visa would apply to those who are already in the UK and preparing for a visa renewal. When this question was put to the government, they said that the changes would not be ‘retrospective’ (this means applying to applications that have already been made), but they would apply to future renewals.
However, the government has been harshly criticised for this and its effect on people already in the UK, so there may be a change to this position. The current position is that the government is:
‘establishing the specifics of the policy, including how it will apply to those renewing visas, and will confirm more details in due course’.
If you make a visa renewal application before Spring 2024 (when these changes are set to be introduced), you will not be affected by these changes.
What happens now?
This news is incredibly concerning, and comes after the terrible decision to massively increase visa fees, and the 67% increase to Immigration Health Surcharge which is set for January 2024. These changes will lead to more and more people being eligible to apply for a fee waiver for their visa application. For information on the fee waiver process, see here.
With this new policy, the government is punishing everyone except those who are wealthy enough to meet these requirements. Figures from April 2023 show that the average earning for a full time employee in the UK was £34,963. This is the government laying bare its position that migrants are only allowed to enter and stay in the UK if they earn significantly above average.
We reject this categorisation and believe that a person’s value should not be determined by their earning potential or their financial contributions to society.
No One Is Illegal.
Migration Is Life.
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