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UK government raises Skilled Worker Visa minimum salary by one-third and eliminates discount for shortage occupation roles

UK government raises Skilled Worker Visa minimum salary by one-third and eliminates discount for shortage occupation roles

Andreia Mendes
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The British government has announced plans to raise the minimum salary required for foreign workers to be eligible for a work visa, aiming to decrease net migration in the UK in 2024, taking a very different stand from Germany.

The Skilled Worker visa's salary threshold is set to increase by almost 50%, leaping from £26,200 to £38,700. This leaves the minimum pay for foreign skilled workers above the median UK salary and at more than double the UK’s minimum wage. These changes also translate to increased National Insurance and pension contributions for employers. Currently, out of roughly 250 job categories qualifying for the Skilled Worker visa, only about 15 positions offer salaries over £38,700.

The announcement follows a 20% cost increase in family visas, settlement and citizenship and raised uncertainties regarding the situation of current skilled worker visa holders who are up for visa renewal but whose salary falls below the new threshold. 

These changes do not affect health and care workers, and professions like teachers with national pay scales, who will be exempt and still be able to qualify for the visa with a lower salary. Sectors like hospitality are set to take the hardest hit, as they highly depend on foreign talent.

Additionally, the Shortage Occupation List will be reformed into an Immigration Salary List and the 20% going rate salary discount for shortage occupation roles will end. This discount previously meant that companies could pay workers 20% less than the going rate for jobs on the Shortage Occupation List. The UK Government is also currently working with the Migration Advisory Committee to review the composition of the list in line with the increased salary thresholds, so it can be expected that some roles disappear from the list. 

Dec. 22nd update: government steps back on increase of salary threshold for family visa

When the government announced that most foreign workers would need to earn a minimum of £38,700 for a UK skilled worker visa, it extended the same requirement to the visa pathway allowing British or Irish citizens, as well as UK residents, to sponsor their family members' arrival in the UK. A significant rise from the current threshold of £18,600.

However, the government has reconsidered: the threshold will now increase to £29,000 in the spring of 2024 with gradual incremental rises to eventually reach £34,500 and then £38,700, although specific dates for these increments have not been provided.

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