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UK government increases salary threshold for migrant workers to 48%

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United Kingdom

Overseas migrant workers who need to be sponsored for a Skilled Worker visa now have their salary threshold increased by 48%, from £26,200 to £38,700.

This means that UK companies are now required to pay these overseas workers a minimum of this amount as salaries prior to providing them a Skilled Worker visa.

This comes as part of a comprehensive package announced by the Home Secretary which the government aims to use to tighten controls on cheap foreign labor while fulfilling its commitment to reducing net migration.

What the adjustment entails

This adjustment aims to prioritize recruiting high-skilled workers to bolster the UK economy while lowering overall immigration figures.

The government emphasized the importance of not permanently relying on immigration in any sector, abolishing the shortage occupation list to prevent employers from paying migrants less than UK workers in shortage occupations.

This Immigration Salary List (ISL) which was earlier introduced, is guided by the expert advice of the independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), listing only skilled and scarce roles, considering efforts to invest in the domestic workforce.

The new list indicates that inclusion on the list must not lead to reduced pay or hinder the recruitment of British workers, urging employers to prioritize training, upskilling, and hiring domestic workers.

This initiative coincides with the government’s significant £2.5 billion Back to Work plan, aimed at facilitating employment for over a million individuals who are long-term unemployed, sick, or disabled, marking one of the largest employment interventions in a generation.

What he said

Home Secretary James Cleverly said:

  • It’s time to turn off the taps and end the flow of cheap workers from abroad. Mass migration is unsustainable and it’s simply not fair.
  • “It undercuts the wages of hard-working people who are just trying to make ends meet. 
  • “We are refocusing our immigration system to prioritise the brightest and best who have the skills our economy needs, while reducing overall numbers.
  • “I promised the British people an immigration system that serves their interests, and to bring numbers down – these tough measures deliver on that commitment. Employers must also play their part and put British workers first”.

In a similar vein, Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride said that this move will encourage British workforce who have been out of jobs.

  • For too long we have relied on labour from abroad when there is great talent right here in the UK.
  • “I’m determined to give jobseekers the support they need to get on and get ahead through our £2.5 billion Back to Work Plan, while our network of Jobcentres are providing apprenticeships, bootcamps, and skills programmes to help even more people into work.
  • “The changes coming into force today coupled with my next generation of welfare reforms will unlock the huge potential of the great British workforce.
  • “The government has put in place an accelerated and comprehensive programme of reforms to address unsustainable numbers of legal arrivals in the UK.  
  • The government’s plan to tackle illegal migration is also working, with small boat crossings down by around a third last year. Illegal migration is an international challenge the government is tackling on all fronts, including working with international partners and clamping down on the criminal gangs with stepped-up enforcement”.

She also mentioned other initiatives by the UK government to reduce net migration. She reflected that in January, the government announced that nearly all postgraduate students would no longer have the ability to bring dependants to the UK.

In addition, there were reforms which were implemented last month to restrict care workers from bringing their family members.

She stated that Care providers weee now mandated to register with the Care Quality Commission, the industry regulator, if they are sponsoring migrant care workers.

The decision comes after clear evidence emerged indicating that care workers were being granted visas under false pretences, including recruitment for nonexistent positions or payment below the required minimum wage for their work.


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