Important Updates to the UK Skilled Worker Visa Program

a stamp on passport saying immigration. linking to skilled worker visa program

The Home Office has recently announced a five-point plan to significantly reduce net migration, resulting in several changes to the UK skilled worker visa program. These changes came into effect on April 4th, 2024, and are important for both employers and employees to be aware of.

Key Changes to the Skilled Worker Visa Program

  • The minimum salary threshold for a skilled worker visa application is now the higher of £38,700 or the market rate for the job in question.
  • The roles eligible for the skilled worker visa program will now be set out in the SOC (Standard Occupational Classification) 2020, replacing the previous SOC 2010. This means that some occupational code numbers will change.
  • The data used to set the minimum salary thresholds will also change, with the 25th percentile being replaced by the 50th percentile based on the annual survey of hours and earnings. This could result in a significant increase in the minimum salary threshold for some roles.
  • For those already holding a skilled worker visa and wishing to extend their permission or change employers in the UK, the minimum salary will be the higher of £29,000 or the going rate for the job. This could result in a 10-20% increase in the minimum salary threshold.

New Entrant Discounts

  • Discounts are still available for certain applicants, including students switching to the skilled worker visa program, applicants under 26 years old, and those working towards full registration or chartered status in certain professions.
  • The discount reduces the minimum salary threshold to the higher of £30,960 or 70% of the going rate for the applicable SOC 2020 occupation code. However, these thresholds are significantly higher than they were before April 2024, which could mean that many graduate roles are no longer eligible for sponsorship.
  • The discount can only be applied for a maximum of four years, after which the individual must meet the higher salary thresholds.

Changes to Occupation Codes

  • The SOC 2010 list has been updated to the SOC 2020, with updated roles and consolidation of some occupational codes.

Expansion of Supplementary Employment Permission

The rules for supplementary employment have been relaxed, allowing skilled workers to undertake supplementary work in any role that would be eligible for skilled worker sponsorship. However, the skilled worker must continue to carry out their sponsored role, and supplementary work must be no more than 20 hours per week.

This change could be useful for skilled workers who wish to act as a director or carry out additional work for another group company, but they would still need permission from their sponsor.

Global Business Mobility

The salary threshold for the intra-company transfer visa route is increasing from £45,800 to £48,500 from April 4th, 2024, or the updated occupation code going rate salary, if higher.

Unlike the skilled worker route, guaranteed allowances and company-provided accommodation allowances, up to 30% of the total salary package, can be included in the salary figure to meet the minimum salary threshold requirements.

These changes are important for both employers and employees to be aware of, and we recommend reviewing your current and future skilled worker visa applications to ensure compliance with the new rules.

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