Home Office Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules – NITA Briefing

April 2024

The Home Office published a new Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules on 14th March 2024.

The lengthy 289-page document sets out some of the significant reform previously announced by the government as part of its five-point plan to cut net migration and curb abuse of the immigration system.

The changes outlined in this statement primarily concern:

  • Changes to the Skilled Worker route, including an increased general salary threshold and higher ‘going rates’ for specific occupations.
  • Consequential changes to salary requirements for other work routes.
  • Changes to the minimum income requirement under the partner routes.

Below is a brief summary of the main changes outlined in today’s statement.

  • Changes to the Skilled Worker route – As announced by the Home Secretary in December 2023, changes are being made to the Skilled Worker route to encourage businesses to invest in the resident workforce rather than over-relying on migration.

  • Increased general salary threshold and ‘going rates’:
    • Sponsoring employers must pay Skilled Workers at least a general salary or the ‘going rate’ for the individual occupation, whichever is higher.
    • The Statement of Changes confirms that effective 4 April 2024, the general salary threshold under the Skilled Worker route 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.

  • New Immigration Salary List:
    • The Shortage Occupation List (SOL) is being removed and replaced with a new Immigration Salary List (ISL), to make clearer that the entries on the list are those where the Government considers it sensible to offer a discounted salary threshold, rather than being a list of all occupations experiencing labour shortages. 
    • The Home Office have confirmed that 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). However, the previous 20% discount to the going rate requirement is being removed.

  • Update of the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code system
    • Changes are being made to update the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code system used in the immigration system from SOC 2010 to SOC 2020. 
    • For some employers, this will mean that some SOC codes they use regularly will be changing. You will need to ensure that any Certificates of Sponsorship issued from 4 April onwards use the new coding system.

  • New salary requirements for other work routes – The salary requirements for other work routes are being updated in line with the changes to the latest ONS pay data:
    • The general salary threshold under the Senior or Specialist Worker (Global Business Mobility) route is being increased from £45,800 to £48,500. 
    • The general salary threshold under the Graduate Trainee (Global Business Mobility) routes is being increased from £24,220 to £25,410. 
    • The general salary threshold under the Scale-up route is being increased from £34,600 to £36,300.

  • Increase to the minimum income requirement under the partner routes – The statements sets out the planned increase to the Minimum Income Requirement for those in the five-year partner and child routes under Appendix FM. This minimum income requirement has not been increased for over a decade, and according to the Home Office it no longer reflects the level of income required by a family to ensure they are self-sufficient and do not need to rely on public funds.
    • This change imposes a new minimum income requirement of £29,000 for new applicants to the routes, coming into effect on 11 April 2024. This represents the first step to bring the financial requirement for this route into line with the new minimum general salary threshold for Skilled Workers. 
    • There will also no longer be a separate child element to the minimum income requirement. This is to ensure that British nationals are not treated less favourably than migrants who are required to meet the General Skilled Worker threshold as a flat rate, regardless of any children being sponsored. 
    • There are transitional arrangements for those who, before 11 April, already have a Family visa within the fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner or five-year partner route, or who applied before 11 April and are being granted. 
    • Once a minimum income requirement (MIR) has been met, the same MIR must be met through to settlement on the route, provided the applicant is applying to stay with the same partner. This will also be the case for children seeking to join or accompany a parent. 

  • Changes in Permitted Business Activities Rules:
    • The Home Office have provided an update on the changes to the Permitted Business Activity rules as follows which commenced on 31st January 2024. The Home Office have:
    • removed the requirement that business visitors undertaking permitted intra-corporate activities must not work directly with clients.
    • made clear in the Immigration Rules that visitors are permitted to work remotely whilst they are in the UK, however remote working must not be the primary purpose of the visit. 
    • made working on Civil Aviation Authority approved wet leasing arrangements a permitted business visitor activity, which will replace a concession currently being operated outside of the rules. 
    • included speaking at conferences as a Permitted Paid Engagement, which will allow speakers to be paid for speaking at conferences and seminars. 
    • incorporated the provisions of the Permitted Paid Engagement (PPE) visitor route into the Standard visitor route, which will allow PPE visitors to enter the UK via e-gates if they are eligible and will make it easier to switch between undertaking PPE activities and permitted business activities. Details HERE.
    • expanded the list of unpaid work activities that visiting legal professionals can undertake in the UK.

Please contact Joanne Stuart, email joanne@nitourismalliance.com, directly if you have any questions on the Immigration System.