Without any prior notice or indication, on 20 and 21 December, in two separate questions posed in the UK Parliament, Home Secretary James Cleverly and his team demonstrated that they have seemingly undertaken two U-turns in respect to their proposed threshold increases for family visa applicants and skilled workers.
Lord Sharpe, in responding to a question from a fellow Conservative Life Peer posed on 21 December, advised that the Minimum Income Requirement (MIR) would now be phased in over three “incremental stages to give predictability” – meaning that the MIR will still rise to £38,700pa but will be phased in, in the following way:
- Spring 2024 – rises from £18,600pa to £29,000
- Stage 2 (no date provided) – rises to £34,500pa
- Stage 3 (again no date provided) – rises to £38,700
Additionally, those already in the UK on a Family visa will need to meet the current income threshold when applying for an extension in the same visa route, although the Home Office have not publicly announced this in Parliament; that salient piece of information can be found in the factsheet that the Home Secretary and others repeatedly referred to when pushed on the details.
A day earlier, the Minister for Legal Migration and Delivery, Tom Pursglove, in response to a Parliamentary question delivered some further, also very limited, information on the changes to the minimum salary threshold for sponsored Skilled Workers.
There are still no firm dates for the introduction of the new level (April 2024 is stated) or if it will be phased in. However, in an interesting twist of fate, Pursglove did announce that the changes will not apply to those already in the UK as sponsored Skilled Workers when they extend their current sponsorship/change employment/apply to settle in the UK. The factsheet published on 21 December confirms this (and it now contradicts the factsheet published on 8 December).
We are obviously pleased that the Home Office have partially listened to and responded to the pressure mounting at the incredible hikes the Government was intending to impose on those contributing to the economy and British society, both as sponsored Skilled Workers and Family visa holders, and we welcome further changes too! However, it does demonstrate, once again, that the Government’s failure to consult the experts (business, industry leaders, lawyers, family groups) results in chaos and climbdowns.
Bindmans will continue to monitor the situation and will provide updates on future developments.