Recent & Yet To Be Implemented Immigration Rule Changes Timeline 2024
2024 is bringing significant changes to the UK immigration rules affecting skilled workers, family visas, and employer sponsorships.
Key Dates For UK Immigration Changes 2024
|Date of Change
|January 1, 2024
|Amendments to UK Student Visa regulations now prohibit the majority of international students from being accompanied by dependents while studying in the UK.
|January 31, 2024
|Expansion of permitted activities for Visitors, modification of work conditions to allow remote work, consolidation of the Permitted Paid Engagement Visitor route into the Standard Visitor route, and introduction of new Appendices Bereaved Partner, Victim of Domestic Abuse, and Statelessness.
|February 1, 2024
|Electronic travel authorisation (ETA) application process for nationals of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan, implemented.
|February 6, 2024
|Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) was increased by 66%.
|February 13, 2024
|Triple increase in fines for illegal working under a revised Civil Penalty regime.
|March 11, 2024
|Care workers and senior care workers prohibited from bringing dependents to the UK, and care homes in England mandated to be regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to sponsor migrants under the Health and Care Worker visa route.
|March 14, 2024
|Introduction of a new Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules replacing the existing Shortage Occupation List (SOL) with an Immigration Salary List.
|April 4, 2024
|Minimum salary threshold for a Skilled Worker visa increased from £26,200 to £38,700 per annum.
|April 6, 2024
|Elimination of the requirement to renew Sponsor Licences after they expire.
|April 11, 2024
|Increase of the minimum income requirement for partners under Appendix FM from £18,600 to £29,000.
For those planning to apply for or renew their visas, understanding this timeline crucial. It allows for better preparation, ensuring compliance with new regulations, and facilitates smoother transitions for those affected.
Key Changes by Date
1 February 2024 – Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) Introduction
Starting 1 February 2024, the UK will introduce Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) that nationals of specific countries will need to provide to enter the UK. This system mandates that nationals from the Gulf states (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Jordan), who previously enjoyed visa-free short stays or transits, must now obtain an ETA before they travel to the UK. This requirement became effective for Qatari nationals from 25 October 2023, demonstrating a rolling implementation approach.
The ETA aims to enhance security measures and streamline the entry process for non-visa nationals. By the end of 2024, it will be a mandatory pre-requisite for all eligible travellers. The application process for the ETA is designed to be straightforward, requiring applicants to fill out an online form detailing their personal, passport, and travel information. This digital vetting process ensures that individuals meet the entry requirements before arriving at UK borders, significantly reducing wait times and improving the overall travel experience.
6 February 2024 – Increase in the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)
One of the most substantial changes set to take effect on 6 February 2024, is the increase in the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). The IHS is a vital component of the UK immigration process. Applicants must pay the IHS fee to allow them access to the National Health Service (NHS) during their stay. This surcharge allows migrants the same NHS access as UK residents, covering everything from emergency procedures to routine visits, without the need to take out additional private health insurance.
From 6 February, students, student dependents, Youth Mobility Scheme applicants, and children under 18 will see their IHS increase from £470 to £776 per annum. For other visa categories, the charge for adults will increase from £624 to £1,035 annually.
13 February 2024 – Increase in Fines for Illegal Working
On 13 February 2024, the UK government is set to introduce a significant increase fines for employers hiring illegal workers.
Under the current system, the maximum fine for employers caught employing an illegal worker for the first time is £15,000 per illegal worker. For repeat offences, this amount increases to £20,000 per illegal worker. However, the new changes will make the fines rise to a maximum of £45,000 per illegal worker for first-time offenders and £60,000 for repeat offenders.
11 March 2024 – Changes to Health and Care Worker Visa Rules For Dependents
Starting on the 11th March 2024, the UK will enforce new rules affecting Health and Care Worker Visas, specifically banning care workers’ from bringing their dependents into the country. These changes, focused on care workers classified under SOC codes 6145 and 6146, represent a significant shift from the existing policy that permits the inclusion of dependent partners and children. However, there is an exemption for those already on this visa route before the changes, allowing them to extend, change employers within the specified categories, or settle in the UK with their dependents. Additionally, all care homes in England must now be regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to sponsor migrants under this visa.
14 March 2024 – Introduction of a New Immigration Salary List
The UK Government are set to introduce a New Immigration Salary List on 14 March 2024, replacing the current Shortage Occupation List (SOL) and removing the 20% going rate discount for listed occupations. This change directly impacts employers’ recruitment strategies, as it demands they meet the updated salary threshold of £38,700 for sponsoring skilled workers from abroad. The move aims to align migrant salaries more closely with UK market rates, ensuring a fair competitive landscape for resident workers while maintaining access to essential international talent. The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) will play a crucial role in advising which occupations should be added to the list, reflecting the UK labour market’s dynamic needs.
4 April 2024 – Increase in Skilled Worker Minimum Salary Threshold
The UK is also set to adjust the Skilled Worker visa framework on 4 April 2024, by increasing the minimum salary threshold required for eligibility. This adjustment raises the amount that individuals holding a skilled worker visa must earn per Anum in order to enter the UK. This increase from the current threshold of £26,200 to the new £38,700 highlights the UK Government’s aim at ensuring that the salaries of skilled migrants reflect the value and demand for their roles within the UK economy. Additionally, the individual occupation ‘going rate’ thresholds will be adjusted to align with the median full-time wage for equivalent jobs as of 2023.
While the new threshold may pose challenges for some employers and potential migrants, exemptions have been made for specific visa routes and circumstances. For instance, those already on the Skilled Worker visa route before the rule changes will not be subject to the new increased financial threshold, extensions, or settlement applications. Also, skilled workers on the Health and Care Visa route and education sector employees in national pay-scale occupations will also be exempt from this new salary requirement.
6 April 2024 – Sponsor Licence Renewals Abolished
UK Home Office has announced that, starting from April 6th 2024, the requirement for UK Sponsor Licence renewals will be abolished. This is in order to reduce the administrative process and costs for employers. Until now, Sponsor Licences were only valid for four years, and needed a renewal process that included additional fees and paperwork. The abolition of this renewal requirement means that all sponsor licences will now automatically extend to expire in ten years, without the need for any action from the licence holders.
This change is particularly beneficial for businesses that rely on global skilled workers to fill job positions. By removing the need for renewal applications, the UK government is not only streamlining the skilled worker sponsorship process but also providing more stability and predictability for employers planning their long-term recruitment strategies. The automatic extension applies to all sponsor licences due to expire on or after 6 April 2024, covering both existing and new licences obtained before this date.
11 April 2024 – Increase in Minimum Income Requirement for Family Visas
The UK government has announced a significant policy update set to take effect on the 11th April 2024, concerning the minimum income requirement for family visas under Appendix FM. This change in policy will the increase the threshold from the current rate of £18,600 to £29,000, a change aimed at ensuring that incoming families have sufficient financial stability while residing in the UK. This policy shift directly impacts partners and dependents applying to join or remain with family members in the UK, setting a higher eligibility bar for demonstrating financial readiness.
It’s important to note however, that individuals who are already on the five-year partner route before the change will continue to be assessed against the current £18,600 income requirement for extensions or settlement applications.
The UK’s immigration law is undergoing significant changes in 2024, with policy reforms aimed at refining the entry and residence processes for skilled workers, their families, and businesses employing international skilled workers. From the introduction of the Electronic Travel Authorisation to adjustments in financial thresholds for skilled worker and family visas, these updates reflect the UK government’s aim to create a sustainable immigration system that supports the nation’s economic and social objectives.