We take a look at the latest news affecting UK sponsoring businesses.

Sponsor licence extensions

On 24 January 2024, the Home Office announced that any sponsor licence expiring on or after April 2024 has automatically been extended for 10 years from the original licence end date. For example, if your licence is due to expire on 1 May 2024, it will now expire on 1 May 2034.

IHS increase date and consequent anticipated delays for visa applications

The draft Immigration (Health Charge) (Amendment) Order 2023 was approved by both Houses of Parliament on 15 January 2024. As the increase to the Immigration Health Surcharge will only come into effect 21 days after the Order is made, any applications made on or after 6 February 2024 will be subject to the new fee.

The IHS fee will be increasing from £624 to £1,035 per person per year. For the student route applications the IHS fee will be increasing from £470 to £776 per applicant per year.

Since the announcement of the impending increase was made, in July 2023, there has been a rise in visa applications to take advantage of the current fees. As a result, we anticipate that there might be delays in all visa applications in upcoming months.

Salary threshold to increase for Skilled Worker visas

The UK government has announced that it will increase the minimum earnings threshold for Skilled Worker visas from £26,200 to £38,700 in April 2024 and raise the individual occupation ‘going rate’ thresholds in line with the median full-time wage for equivalent jobs in 2023.

Those already in the Skilled work route, and applications made before the rules change, will not be subject to the new salary threshold when they change sponsor, extend, or settle.

Change to Shortage Occupation List

Roles that the UK government deems to be in short supply are included on the Shortage Occupation List (SOL). These roles are afforded lower application fees for sponsored work visa applications.

In December 2023, the government announced a five-point immigration plan, confirming that the SOL would be replaced with a new Immigration Salary List. The new list will retain the general threshold discount but will not feature the 20% “going rate” salary discount for shortage occupations. This change is expected to come into effect on 14 March 2024.

The Home Office has commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee to carry out a “rapid review” of the SOL to amend the roles on the list and revise the relevant salary threshold.

This is expected to be published by 23 February 2024.

U-turn on family visas

In December 2023, as part of its five-point immigration plan to lower legal migration, the UK government announced that it would increase the salary requirement for family dependant visas from £18,600 to £38,700 – a whopping £20,100 increase.

Ministers were then faced with criticism and concern that this drastic increase would keep families apart. In response, the UK government has backpedalled and are raising this fee in increments. The new threshold will initially be set at £29,000, with further increases at unspecified dates thereafter.

We help individuals and businesses navigate all aspects of UK immigration and can assist with ongoing employee immigration management. Contact us at +44 (0) 20 7759 5307 or email workpermits@sableinternational.com.

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