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New statement of changes to Immigration Rules raises minimum skilled worker salary to over £38K and spouse visa threshold to £29K


Financial measures to take effect on April 4 and 11 as part of five-point plan to reduce immigration

Date of Publication:
14 March 2024

As originally announced by the immigration minister in January, the Home Office has today published a highly consequential new statement of changes to the Immigration Rules. It increases the minimum earnings threshold for those arriving on the Skilled Worker visa route by 48% from £26,200 to £38,700. The financial (minimum income) requirement for family or partner/spouse visas is increased from £18,600 to £29,000.

You can download the lengthy 292-page statement of changes here (HC 590). The helpful 17-page accompanying explanatory memorandum is here.

The changes for skilled worker visas come into force from 4 April, while the family visa changes take effect from 11 April. They are part of the Government's five-point plan to reduce family, study and work-related immigration announced in December.

For those unable to meet the new £29K threshold for a family/partner visa, the explanatory memorandum highlights: "Existing exceptional circumstances and the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children continue to apply. Those unable to meet the minimum income requirement may still be granted leave where: there are insurmountable obstacles to family life with their partner continuing outside the UK; it would not be reasonable for their child to leave the UK; or there are exceptional circumstances which would render refusal of the application a breach of ECHR Article 8 because it would result in unjustifiably harsh consequences for the applicant or their family."

In addition, today's changes see the Shortage Occupation List scrapped and replaced by the new Immigration Salary List.

There are also changes to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS), the Hong Kong British National (Overseas) route, and a number of other changes. Appendix Victim of Domestic Abuse (VDA) is amended to include all partners with pre-settled status under the EUSS. Appendix AR: Administrative Review EU has been redrafted and simplified. Two new appendices are being introduced: Appendix Long Residence and Appendix Adoption.

In a written statement to Parliament today, immigration minister Tom Pursglove gave the following details on the changes:

Statement UIN HCWS338

Tom Pursglove
The Minister of State for Legal Migration and the Border


My rt hon Friend the Home Secretary is today laying before the House a Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules. As announced by the Prime Minister and Home Secretary on 4 December 2023, changes are being made to curb immigration abuse and reduce net migration. The changes will mean around 300,000 people who came to the UK last year would now not be able to come. Migration is far too high, which is why we are introducing a package of measures which will deliver the biggest ever cut to migration over the course of this year.

These changes, including the increase to the minimum income requirement (MIR) for those applying in the partner route, are supportive of the wider ambition for the UK to be a high-wage, high-productivity, high skill economy.

Changes to the Skilled Worker route

Our changes will ensure businesses invest in the resident workforce rather than over-relying on migration, while bringing salaries in line with the average full-time salary for eligible jobs.

Today the Government is laying the following measures as part of the net migration package announced on 4 December:

• Sponsoring employers must pay Skilled Workers at least a general salary threshold or the going rate for the individual occupation, whichever is higher. The general salary threshold is being raised from £26,200 (based on 25th percentile UK earnings in eligible occupations) to £38,700 (based on median UK earnings in eligible occupations). Going rates are also being raised from the 25th percentile to the median. The new thresholds and going rates are based on the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) pay data. Workers sponsored for Health and Care visas, or in occupations where going rates are set using national pay scales, are exempt from the new median salary requirements. Instead, a general threshold based on the 25th percentile continues to apply, and is being updated from £26,200 to £29,000, based on the latest ONS pay data.

• The Shortage Occupation List is being removed and replaced by a new Immigration Salary List (ISL). The contents of the new list have been informed by a review carried out by the independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC). The MAC will carry out a full review of the list later in 2024. As with the previous list, included occupations have a 20% discount to the general salary threshold (to £30,960 or £23,200, depending on whether they would otherwise be subject to the £38,700 or £29,000 threshold), but the previous 20% discount to the going rate requirement is being removed.

These measures are on top of changes we have already implemented in March, where we removed the right of care workers and senior carers to bring dependants, and introduced a requirement that care providers in England can only sponsor migrant workers if they are undertaking activities regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Changes to the Minimum Income Requirement under the partner routes

We have also taken the first step to bring the financial requirement that must be met to sponsor a partner and child(ren) under the family rules, into line with the new minimum general salary threshold for skilled workers of £38,700, with an initial increase to £29,000. This will no longer include an additional income requirement for children.

This increase ensures that families will make a net positive impact on the economy, as well as contributing to the Government target to lower net migration.

We have also brought the MIR for HM Armed Forces (which includes the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines, the Army, including the Brigade of Gurkhas and the Royal Air Force) partner route into line with the HM Armed Forces salary minimum threshold, which is currently £23,496. This will similarly no longer include an additional income requirement for children.

Tethering the MIR for HM Armed Forces to their salary threshold takes into account the unique nature of their service, the Armed Forces Covenant, and the critical need to recruit and retain HM Armed Forces personnel in order to maintain national security.

Other aspects of the MIR under both routes will remain unchanged, such as the various ways in which it can be met and the consideration of exceptional circumstances where it may not be met in certain cases. The rules also make transitional provisions for those already granted under the family or armed forces rules.

Changes relating to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS)

We are amending the relationship requirements under Appendix Victim of Domestic Abuse (VDA) to include all partners with pre-settled status under the EUSS.

The EUSS in Appendix EU enables EU, other European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss citizens living in the UK by the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020, and relevant family members, to obtain immigration status. Appendix VDA provides access to immediate settlement for victims of domestic abuse who meet its relationship requirements. They currently include, together with their dependent children, any partner sponsored under Appendix FM by an EEA or Swiss citizen with settled status or (based on their residence in the UK before the end of the transition period) pre-settled status under the EUSS.

The changes expand the scope of those immediate settlement provisions to include a spouse, civil partner, or durable partner with pre-settled status under the EUSS (meaning that the relationship was formed before the end of the transition period), and their dependent children. We will also include them within the scope of the Migrant Victims of Domestic Abuse Concession (outside the Immigration Rules) so that they can obtain leave outside the rules with access to public funds pending the outcome of an application in the UK under Appendix VDA. This will ensure that partners of EEA and Swiss citizens with EUSS status are treated equally under these domestic abuse provisions, regardless of whether the relationship was formed before or after the end of the transition period.

A person granted immediate settlement under Appendix VDA will still be able to apply for settled status under the EUSS at the point at which they would otherwise have been eligible for it, based on their continuous residence in the UK. However, in line with Article 18(1)(h) of the Withdrawal Agreement, the changes also require a person resident in the UK before the end of the transition period – where they seek to obtain settled status under the EUSS in place of indefinite leave to enter or remain granted to them under another route – to have held their existing indefinite leave at the end of the transition period.

Immigration Salary List and Asylum

We are replacing the Shortage Occupation List with a new Immigration Salary List. Eligible asylum seekers granted permission to work in the UK can currently only work in roles on the Shortage Occupation List. Given the Shortage Occupation List's replacement with the Immigration Salary List, asylum seekers who are eligible and granted permission to work in the UK from 4 April will only be able to work in roles on the Immigration Salary List.

Changes to Appendix AR: Administrative Review EU

Appendix AR: Administrative Review EU has been redrafted and simplified in line with Appendix AR: Administrative Review. It has also been amended to remove the scope to apply out-of-time for administrative review of a relevant EUSS decision taken before 5 October 2023. Individuals will have had more than five months to apply out-of-time for administrative review, and they will continue to be able to apply to the First-tier Tribunal to appeal out-of-time and the tribunal will consider that application on its merits. The scope to apply for administrative review of a relevant EUSS decision taken from 5 October 2023 was removed by HC 1780.

There are a number of other changes to the Immigration Rules, mainly of a minor or technical nature.

The changes to the Immigration Rules are being laid on 14 March 2024 and will come into effect on 4 April 2024.