U.K. tightens immigration rules to curb record high migrant numbers

This week’s measures would render some 3,00,000 would-be immigrants under the current rules, ineligible to move to the U.K. once the new policy kicks in

December 05, 2023 06:30 pm | Updated 07:19 pm IST - LONDON

File photo of U.K. Border control

File photo of U.K. Border control | Photo Credit: Reuters

U.K. Home Secretary James Cleverly, on Monday, announced a significant tightening of the country’s immigration policy, in an attempt to curb migration which has been at record highs. The new policies will impact  Indian citizens, who constituted the largest group (2,53,000) of incoming migrants as per provisional figures for the year ending June 2023. 

This week’s measures would render some 3,00,000 would-be immigrants under the current rules, ineligible to move to the U.K. once the new policy kicks in, as per the Home Office. Net migration into the U.K. was at a  record 7,45,000 in December 2022, pushing the government of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to announce further actions on migration as the country heads towards a general election.

Also read | The U.K.’s illegal migration Bill on its way to becoming law

The policies announced include an increase in threshold salaries for skilled worker visas from £26,200 to £38,700 (except for the Health and Care visa route) starting next spring. The income requirement for certain family members of British citizens or those ‘settled persons’ (i.e., those with permanent residence for example) will also increase.

An annual ‘health surcharge’ to support Britain’s National Health Service (NHS), will increase from £624 to £1,035 — a 66% hike.

A list of ‘shortage occupations’ would be reviewed and the 20% lower salary thresholds for employing foreign worker in this category would end.

 International students — except those in postgraduate research courses — will not be able to bring dependents from January 2024.  The Sunak government also announced a tightening of the health visa route.

  The Home Office said that 1,01,000 healthcare visas were granted in the year ending September 2023, with an associated 1,20,000 dependent visas for these workers: health care visa migrants would no longer be allowed to bring dependents with them.

“Immigration is too high,” Mr Sunak said, as he called for “radical action” to curb it.

“I am taking decisive action to halt the drastic rise in our work visa routes and crack down on those who seek to take advantage of our hospitality,” Mr Cleverly said.

  Mr Cleverly travelled to Rwanda on Tuesday to finalize a new asylum treaty after the U.K.’s Supreme Court ruled that the old arrangement to send asylum seekers from the U.K. to Rwanda was unlawful.

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