UK Visa and Immigration News - IN 2024


Table of Contents

26 March 2024

Proposed Visa-Free Travel to the UK for Thais

In a landmark development that promises to significantly enhance the travel and hospitality landscape between Thailand and the United Kingdom, the two nations have embarked on a strategic partnership that could pave the way for visa-free access for Thai passport holders to visit the UK. During his recent visit to Bangkok, this initiative, part of the broader UK-Thai Strategic Partnership agreement, was sealed with the signature of UK Foreign Secretary, Lord David Cameron. The major highlights of the Agreement are as follows: 1. Visa-Free Travel Talks: A pivotal aspect of the agreement is the initiation of discussions to grant visa-free access to Thai passport holders for short-term visits to the UK. This initiative is anticipated to enhance tourism and business travel, opening new avenues for travel and hospitality sector professionals to explore innovative service offerings and market expansions. 2. Bilateral Strategic Partnership: The agreement elevates the UK and Thailand’s relationship to a strategic partnership level, underscoring a commitment to deepen connections not only in travel and tourism but also in trade, security, and cultural exchanges. 3. Security and Cooperation: Amid rising geopolitical tensions in the Indo-Pacific region, the agreement also encompasses enhanced security cooperation between the UK and Thailand.

12 March 2024

Care Workers Can No Longer Bring Family Members to the UK

New rules to radically cut net migration and prevent visa abuse are now in force as part of the government’s plan to decrease unsustainable levels of legal migration. Therefore, Care workers will now be restricted from bringing dependants, after a disproportionate 120,000 dependants accompanied 100,000 workers on the route, in 2023. In addition, Care providers in England acting as sponsors for migrants will also be required to register with the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the industry regulator for Health and Social Care, to crack down on worker exploitation and abuse within the sector. It forms part of a broader package of measures, which is being implemented as soon as possible, which means a total of 300,000 people who were eligible to come to the UK last year would now no longer be eligible. There is clear evidence that care workers have been offered visas under false pretences for jobs that simply do not exist or to be paid far below the minimum wage required for their work, exploiting them while undercutting British workers. These changes come into force as the government is set to lay rules in Parliament on 14 March 2024 to prevent the continued undercutting of British workers, which includes raising the salary threshold that a skilled worker must meet in order to get a visa and removing the 20% ‘going-rate’ discount for migrant workers in shortage occupations.

08 February 2024

The UK's Immigration Health Surcharge Increase Takes Effect

The increase in the cost of the UK’s Immigration Health Surcharge for student visa holders has now taken effect, with fees rising by 65 per cent from the previous level. From 6th February 2024, student visa applicants, student dependents and youth mobility visa applicants will need to pay £776 GBP per year for the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). This is an increase compared with £470 GBP previously. However, the rate for students and working holiday makers is reduced from the full £1,035 GBP fee paid by other visa streams. The higher rate will apply to applicants for the Graduate Route of post-study work rights. The increase in the Immigration Health Surcharge was first announced in July 2023, by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who said the fees would be used to fund pay increases for public health workers.

28 December 2023

Salary Threshold for Family members of UK Residents will Not be Increased!

The decision to increase the salary threshold for non-native UK residents seeking to bring family members to the country has now been reversed by the UK Home office, following harsh criticism. Home Secretary James Cleverly had previously announced a rise in annual income required for this category from $23,687 to $49,286, but according to recent agreements, this amount was set at $36,932, with no set timeline for the higher threshold. Home Secretary James Cleverly defended the government’s targets, stating that he believes that the revised plans would impact the net migration, reducing it by approximately 300,000 people annually. In addition, he emphasized the need to prioritize fairness to those who significantly contribute to the economy while preventing system abuse through reduction of immigration numbers.

04 December 2023

Top German Politician calls for Closer Ties between the UK and EU

Martin Schulz, a former SPD leader, in Germany’s ruling Social Democratic party (SPD), has called for much closer links between the UK and the European Union (EU), amid increasing concerns that Brexit division is affecting efforts to solve international crises, including mass migration. Schulz said that it was crucial that regular meetings - “structured dialogue”, be established in order to cement the UK closer to the EU, and Germany, once again. This proposal should involve regular contacts between Government officials and citizens to discuss policy issues of common concern, despite being outside the EU's ambit. “The distance between the member states of the EU and the institutions of the union, and the UK, has increased during the last three or four years. Every day, it is a little bit more,” Schulz said.

26 October 2023

Carers from Overseas are Subjected to Exploitation

The Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) reported that the Health and Care Worker Visa system in the UK is being abused by criminals, which is resulting in allegations of fraud and modern slavery. A GLAA Senior Investigating Officer stated that companies have been set up specifically to exploit overseas Heath care workers: "The sole purpose of these criminals is to use these people as cash cows. They are running businesses at a much-reduced cost because they're not paying them what they're supposed to. They're also charging them excessive fees." In addition, a Home Office Spokesperson said that the Government strongly condemns Offers of employment under false pretences, and Employers engaging in these illegal practices may face prosecution and/or removal from the sponsorship register.

19 September 2023

New Increases in UK Visa Fees, from 04 October

On 4th October 2023, subject to parliamentary approval, new increases in UK visa fees for Immigration and Nationality applications will come into effect. The escalation in fees is intended to fund Public sector pay rises and other critical services. Therefore, from 4 October, a Student visa lodged from outside the UK will increase by £127 to £490, which will be the same as a Student visa application made from within the UK. In addition, a Visitor visa for 6 months stay will rise from £15 to £115, plus there will equally be similar increases in Visa fees for Visitor visas for 2, 5 and 10 years. Note that increases to the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) are not included in the latest fee rise, but the IHS fee is still planned to increase in Autumn 2023.

12 September 2023

66% of UK public 'dissatisfied with government’s approach to immigration'

Research reveals that two thirds of the public that were questioned across England, Scotland and Wales are dissatisfied with the way the Government is handling immigration, according to the Immigration Attitudes Tracker Survey. This is the highest level of dissatisfaction since the Brexit vote, in 2015. For 82% of Conservative supporters, the Government was 'not doing enough to stop Channel migrant crossings'. In addition, the Labour party accused the Government of having 'failed to get a grip' on th issue as the milestone of 23,000 crossings, in 2023 was reached.

30 August 2023

UK's Visa options are preventing Foreign Investors

The UK is an attractive location for foreign Investors due to the English language, Education system and access to London financial and other markets. However, there are currently limited Visa options to suppport the move to the UK. The Tier 1 (Investor) Visa was closed in February 2022, and there is no prospect of its re-opening. Therefore, Investors now may apply for just a Visitor visa for a 6 months stay, although regular visits cannot lead to UK Residence. In reality, the Skilled Worker visa is the most viable alternative to the Tier 1 (Investor) scheme for Applicants, which allows the Skilled Worker to be sponsored by a lawful UK organization, which has obtained a License to sponsor foreign workers. However, the Organixation must have a genuine requirement for the job and the Applicant must have the skills and experience required for the role.

9 August 2023

Increase in UK CAS and Student Visa Intake for Autumn 2023

Of the recent 100,000 or so Offers for Study at UK Educational Providers, visa issuances were up 62%, compared to 2022 numbers, and CAS issuances were up 11.4%, plus Course deposits paid also increased by 11.7%. However, statistics reveal that the key markets - India and Nigeria Student enrolments were down slightly. Regarding Nigeria, they have been experiencing economic issues, with the devaluation of their currency. From a positive perspective, Nepal had a large 225% increase in deposits paid, compared to 2022, and CAS Issuances jumped up by 259%.

7 August 2023

Businesses request Government to Re-consider Planned Increase in Skilled Worker Visa Fees

UK Business Groups claim that increasing the Skilled Worker Visa fees will be detrimental to the UK's competitiveness and affect efforts to deal with UK labour shortages. The UK Government's planned increase in Visa fees is to fund public sector pay rises. According to the Government's plan, a Skilled worker visa for 3 years duration would increase from £1,235 to £1,480. In addition, the annual Immigration Health Surcharge would increase 66% to £1,035. Therefore, total expenses to sponsor one Skilled worker is nearly £10,000, excluding the costs for Dependants