July 17, 2024

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UK government unveils measures to cut immigration by 300,000 a year

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The UK will make it harder for employers to hire overseas staff by raising the pay threshold for skilled workers and axing cut-price salaries in shortage sectors, in a bid to reduce record immigration by 300,000 a year.

Under plans set out by home secretary James Cleverly to get to grips with the politically charged issue, workers will need to earn at least £38,700 to obtain a visa, up from £26,200, while care workers will be barred from bringing in dependants from next April.

Employers will no longer be able to pay overseas workers less than UK employees in sectors where staff are in short supply, and the salary threshold for spousal visas will also be raised.

Monday’s announcement came as Rishi Sunak’s government sought to regain the initiative on immigration ahead of a general election expected next year.

“In total this package will mean around 300,000 fewer people will come in future years,” Cleverly said, adding that migration to the UK was “far too high”.

In heavy blows to government policies on irregular and legal migration, the Supreme Court last month blocked Sunak’s flagship policy of sending “small boat” migrants to Rwanda and official data showed net legal migration hit a record high of 745,000 in 2022.

But some employers said Monday’s package could raise costs and exacerbate labour shortages, while unions attacked the curbs on family members.

Neil Carberry, chief executive of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation, said the package was a “very significant tightening” that “sends a really bad signal around the world.”

He added that it would particularly affect smaller, regional companies already struggling to afford visa fees or to compete with London wages.

“Once again . . . the interests of the economy have taken second place to the internal politics of the Conservative party,” he said.

The changes mean British citizens and those already settled in the UK will also need to earn £38,700 — almost double the…

2023-12-04 14:11:13

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