Under Section 3(2) of The Immigration Act (1971), the primary legislation which regulates the entry into and the stay of persons in the United Kingdom, the Home Secretary presents a statement of changes, or rather amendments made to the Immigration Act to the House of Commons; this happens approximately 2 or 3 times a year.
Changes to the immigration rules can be made sometimes only once or twice but also multiple times a year. The most recent of these was brought out on the 9th of March 2023 but does not necessarily affect the laws from this date. Rather, these changes are passed into law at a designated point in the near future, normally after a month or 2. With regard to Skilled Workers and minimum salary, the date was in most cases, enacted on the 12th of April 2023.
The minimum salary requirement for skilled workers was increased from £25,600 to £26,200. This minimum requirement, however, is not mandatory to everyone as what you need to be paid by your prospective employer also depends upon variables such as the visa route you are switching from; if you are already in the UK; your age and the nature of the job itself. This list is non-exhaustive.
Some details about the Skilled Worker route in the Statement of Changes March 2023 :
- Increase in minimum salary requirement: The minimum salary requirement for skilled workers has been increased from £25,600 to £26,200. Please refer to point made above. This salary is based upon a 37.5-hour week. If the applicant works in excess of this, then the salary must be adjusted accordingly. This change is intended to ensure that skilled workers are paid a fair wage in the UK.
- Requirement for job offer from licensed sponsor: In most cases Skilled Workers must have a job offer from a licensed sponsor in order to be eligible for a visa.
- Requirement to meet English language requirement: In most cases Skilled Workers must meet the English language requirement in order to be eligible for a visa. This is intended to ensure that skilled workers have the English language skills necessary to work in the UK and can be met in more than one way.
- Requirement to have criminal record check: Some Skilled Workers, depending upon their area of employment, must now have a criminal record check in order to be eligible for a visa.
Other changes outside of Skilled Worker surrounding work-based immigration routes:
- Implementation of the Innovator Founder route: The Innovator Founder route will allow high-potential entrepreneurs to come to the UK to set up and grow their businesses. To qualify for the route, applicants must have at least £50,000 in investment capital and a clear plan for their business. The changes also relax existing restrictions on Innovator migrants engaging in employment outside the running of their business, provided such secondary employment is in skilled roles. This route replaces the previous Innovator Route.
- The changes also close the Start-up route to new initial applications except where they are supported by endorsements issued before 13 April 2023. With the removal of the £50k minimum funds requirement for Innovator Founders, it is no longer necessary to retain a separate route for start-up entrepreneurs that do not have access to this level of funds.
- A change is being made to the Immigration Rules for the Global Business Mobility UK Expansion Worker route to reflect commitments the UK has made in the UK-Australia Free Trade Agreement. Australian nationals and permanent residents coming to the UK to open a branch or subsidiary of their Australian employer will not need to demonstrate that they have worked for their overseas employer for 12 months prior to coming to the UK.
- The Youth Mobility Scheme route implements the international commitments we take to provide cultural exchange programmes for young people. The UK’s existing reciprocal, bilateral arrangement with New Zealand has been enhanced – the age range is being expanded from 18-30 to 18-35 and the length of stay is being increased from 2 to 3 years. The Rules changes bring these enhancements into effect.
The Statement of Changes March 2023 (HC1160) are significant and will have a major impact on people who are seeking to come to the UK to live, work, or study. If you are affected by these changes, it is important to seek legal advice.