The impact of changes in UK immigration policies on employment within the health sector.

  • Record level of immigration to the UK spurs changes in immigration plans.
  • Changes to begin in April 2024.

Immigrants aspiring to pursue ambitious plans in the UK face a setback as the government emphasizes a tougher stand on recruiting from overseas.

The increased priority on expanding the domestic workforce is a response to record levels of immigration to the UK.

The Home Office believes these steps will lead to the “the biggest clampdown on UK migration ever” and “a crackdown on cut-price labour from overseas.”

Home Secretary James Cleverly said: “It is clear that net migration remains far too high. By leaving the European Union we gained control over who can come to the UK, but far more must be done to bring those numbers down so British workers are not undercut and our public services put under less strain.

My plan will deliver the biggest ever reduction in net migration and will mean around 300,000 people who came to the UK last year would not have been able to do so. I am taking decisive action to halt the drastic rise in our work visa routes and crack down on those who seek to take advantage of our hospitality.”

An overview of the proposed immigration reforms in the UK

The expected changes are summarized as follows:

  • Minimum salary for Skilled Workers to increase from £26,200 to £38,700.
  • The Shortage Occupation List is to be reviewed and the 20% discount is to be scrapped.
  • The Graduate visa route is to be reviewed and potentially abolished (again.  For those with long enough memories, this was the fate of the pre-cursor known as the Post Study Work visa).
  • Care workers will no longer be able to sponsor dependents.
  • For individuals wishing to sponsor family to join them in the UK, the minimum income threshold is increasing from £18,600 to £38,700.

These changes are on top of a plethora of other changes that have come in or are due to come in, which are as follows:

  • From 1 January 2024, Students will no longer be able to sponsor dependents (unless they are studying for a PhD)
  • Home Office fees increased on 4 October 2024
  • The Immigration Health Surcharge is due to increase on 16 January 2024 from £624 per year to £1035 per year.

Miriam Deakin, director of policy and strategy at NHS Providers, said: “It’s vital that overseas health and care staff continue to view the UK as a viable place to work and live.

“With over 120,000 staff shortages in the NHS and over 150,000 in social care, measures that deter people from joining these professions are deeply concerning.”

She said the health and care sectors should be attractive not only to domestic workers but also to those educated internationally, describing the contributions of overseas staff as “vital”.

Barr. Moses Izevbozua gave a legal view by saying “The Health sector relies a great deal on the immigrants to do the job because they are more reliable and dependable compared to those who aren’t, the settled work force are the immigrants. With this proposed law, there will certainly be shortage in the workforce on the long run. The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) is the government think tank that advised the government on the impact of these laws as they carve out which sector should be put on the occupation shortage list and work to tailor those needs. . .

With sponsorship license, health sectors can still bring in immigrants when they comply with the sponsorship duties and ensure complete compliance with laws, not to shortchange the system and maintain the integrity of the immigration policy.”

According to Robert McNeil of the Migration Observatory, “The impact of these changes hasn’t been seen yet, it’s a recent policy change but its hard to quantify the extent to which the public sector is dependent on these particular people because care sector like the NHS still has access to people who can though the income threshold to replace them are quite lower than the skilled worker generally. It also closes the door for some opportunities for students to have a better life in the UK because they have the opportunity to work whilst studying and therefore providing them with opportunities to live more comfortable in the UK. The impact is more on the student than it is on the public sector.”