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UK's New Immigration Policy: Impact & Changes in 2024

Responding to a surge in migrant influx, the UK government has introduced a comprehensive plan addressing the challenges of increased population pressure. Despite expectations of reduced migration post-Brexit, the UK is grappling with a rise in migrants, impacting the competitive labour market, strained NHS services, and crowded transportation systems.

The Minister of State for Legal Migration and Delivery unveiled a strategic initiative set to be implemented in Spring 2024, focusing on limiting benefits, refining settlement criteria, and increasing migrant responsibility in healthcare. Key policy changes include adjustments to salary requirements, reduction of eligible sectors for Tier-2/Skilled Worker visas, and restrictions on bringing dependents.

These measures aim to mitigate the impact of migration drivers, such as study, work, and asylum. As geopolitical uncertainties persist, the UK remains a highly competitive environment, making migration policies unpredictable and necessitating adaptability from those navigating these changes.
Anyone currently in the UK, particularly in bustling metropolitan areas like London, would notice the streets are increasingly crowded.

The UK labour market is feeling the effects of migration, with a surprisingly high influx of migrants post-Brexit, defying the anticipated impacts of Brexit on immigration. This surge places considerable strain on the UK, with the job market at peak competitiveness, the NHS at full capacity, and the tube at its most congested. Coupled with the cost of living crisis, the conditions of living in the UK are growing more severe, and the public's dissatisfaction is palpable. In response, towards the end of 2023, the Minister of State for Legal Migration and Delivery unveiled a strategy to address the challenges of Brexit immigration and the effects of migration, pledging to implement this plan in Spring 2024.

The new plan curtails the benefits migrants receive on their work visas, tightens the criteria for UK migrants' natural progression towards settlement, and heightens migrant contributions to the healthcare system. This article will dissect the key points of the UK's new migration policy, step-by-step, elucidate the challenges now facing current UK migrants and those aspiring to enter the UK labour market for work or education, and will also consider alternative migration paths viable for both existing and prospective migrants in/to the UK.

The primary drivers of the migrant influx to the UK are study, work, and asylum. Exiting the EU has intensified competition in the British education system, making the UK an increasingly attractive destination for students worldwide. With a relatively robust economic growth post-Covid, the UK labour market is flourishing and drawing in international talent. Additionally, the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine has led to a consistent flow of asylum seekers seeking humanitarian protection under the UK's relatively open visa policies.

To deal with this, the UK is:

  • Increasing the minimum salary required to be sponsored by your employer to remain in the UK
  • Decreasing the number of sectors that are able to sponsor employees on a Tier-2/Skilled Worker visa
  • Increasing the minimum salary for those eligible to acquire a spouse/partner visa
  • Banning social care workers and PhD students from bringing dependents on their visa
  • Reviewing the Graduate Scheme Visa


The UK’s counterpart to the US’ 'green card' is the Tier-2 visa, also known as the 'Skilled Worker' visa. This work visa scheme enables UK employers to sponsor migrant workers if they are nationals from a foreign country, working in a select range of sectors. Previously, the baseline salary required for employees to be considered for this type of sponsorship was £26,000. It is now set to increase to £38,700. Furthermore, the range of sectors within which employers are eligible to sponsor foreign employees is set to decrease.

This scenario presents challenges for recent graduates aiming to secure sponsorship as part of their employment in the UK. Most entry-level positions offer a starting salary of £22,000, which means that career advancement towards the sponsorship threshold in the UK job market will become increasingly challenging. While this change does not apply to those on a 'Health and Social Care' visa and education workers on national pay scales, most graduates will have a 2-year period to reach the £38,700 annual salary needed to stay in the UK under the 'Graduate Scheme.'

Graduate Scheme

The 'Graduate Scheme' permits foreign graduates of UK universities to stay in the UK for 2 years to secure employment and enhance their chances of achieving settled status. Although no definitive changes to this route have been announced, it is clear that its policies are being scrutinised. It is possible that the UK will monitor the impact of the new visa changes before deciding if the 'Graduate Scheme' should face stricter regulations.

However, for those already in the UK on a 'Graduate Scheme' and those who have depended on this pathway for their progression to settlement, it is important to recognize that this has now become a less stable option due to the evolving landscape of migration.


Until the new policies are enforced, PhD students and social care workers on either the Tier-4 or the 'Health and Social Care' visas have been able to bring dependents to the UK. However, with the upcoming changes in Spring of 2024, this will no longer be possible, impacting family migration. The alternative will be to apply for family visas, which are also expected to experience a tightening of restrictions, reflecting the UK's evolving stance on migration.

For those marrying a UK citizen, the financial threshold for sponsoring a spouse or partner will see a significant increase, impacting the economic impact of immigration. The minimum income requirement will rise from £18,600 to £29,000, and eventually to £38,700. Although specific dates for these increases are not yet determined, it is crucial for individuals pursuing migration to the UK to stay informed of the latest policies and ensure they can meet the escalating financial requirements.

The UK is introducing amendments to immigration policy as urgent responses to the situational influx of migrants, influenced by the impacts of migration and the economic impact of immigration. In the wake of post-Brexit adjustments and ongoing global challenges, such as the war in Europe and looming recessions, the UK's migration policies are expected to remain highly competitive and unpredictable.