North East Connected

North-East Businesses Adjust After Home Office Announcement of New Visa Wage Thresholds

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The North-East business community is in a process of adjustment following the enaction of new visa wage thresholds for skilled overseas workers.

Home Secretary, James Cleverly, said new minimum wage thresholds would be implemented within a matter of weeks, with the UK government keen to curb legal immigration.

Unpicking the new skilled visa wage thresholds

The Home Office confirmed that the standard minimum wage needed to secure a Skilled Worker visa would rise from £26,200 to £38,700, active from 4th April 2024. In doing so, businesses across the North-East of England are having to work out whether they can afford to attract and retain essential overseas talent any longer.

This is especially true for the healthcare industry, across Tyneside, Wearside and Teesside, which has leant heavily on skilled workers from overseas for several years. According to The Migration Observatory, healthcare has been the dominant sector for skilled worker visas since starting its findings back in 2010. The number of skilled worker visas assigned in the healthcare industry outside of London stood at 6,285 in 2010 but has risen to 23,945 in the space of a decade.

It’s true that the thresholds may be lower for people working in certain jobs – healthcare and education roles, in particular. But it is still likely that it affects decisions from both businesses and individuals over whether to migrate to the UK to work in such roles. Furthermore, since 11th March 2024, new reforms have been in place preventing overseas care workers from bringing family members to live in the UK. That’s unless they meet the new minimum income threshold of £29,000 per annum to secure a family visa for family members living abroad.

Source: Unsplash

Furthermore, there are major employers in the North-East specialising in science, technology and engineering sectors. This includes the Nissan plant in Sunderland, with a 6,000-strong workforce. Many of them depend on overseas expertise to fill essential roles and maintain their competitive edge in the market through innovation and growth.

With the goalposts moving for UK immigration, it’s vital for those desperate to work and live in the UK to seek experienced legal advice on their position. Employment immigration lawyers can work on behalf of skilled overseas workers to oversee legitimate applications for a UK Skilled Worker Visa, ensuring all aspects of an application are covered and evidenced appropriately.

Sustainable migration is the target for the Home Secretary

At the time of the Home Office’s announcement, it confirmed that those with existing visa applications submitted prior to 4th April would be assessed under the previous guidelines. Nevertheless, Cleverly insists his mission is to bring migration to “sustainable levels” for this island nation. He added that by tightening the rules on care workers and skilled workers, the UK government could ensure migrant workers can support any family members they bring over. Cleverly described the overall approach as a “firm but fair one”.

These latest changes and challenges for north-east businesses come at a time when new figures estimate Britain’s population could surge from its current 67 million level to almost 74 million by 2036. The data, supplied by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), assumed a net international migration rate of 315,000 people per annum from 2028 onwards.

These numbers were designed to act as a guide to the government and others in the public sector to develop long-term policies, covering issues such as pensions, school places, hospitals and residential property. All of which will be pressing concerns for the people of North-East England in the years ahead.

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