Spring 2024 changes
On 4 December 2023, the UK government announced changes to the immigration system that will take effect from Spring 2024. Details of the announcement can be found on the .GOV website.
Changes to the Skilled Worker Route include:
- Increasing the salary threshold by 50 per cent from £26,200 to £38,700. This will also apply to the minimum income required for British citizens and those settled in the UK who want their family members to join them.
- Increasing the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) from £624 to £1035.
- Replacing the Shortage Occupation List with a new Immigration Salary List, which will retain a general salary discount. The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has been asked to review and reduce the number of occupations on the list.
- The MAC has also been asked to review the Graduate Visa route.
- Tightening the Health and Care Visa to prevent overseas care workers (SOC 6145 and SOC 6146) bringing dependants to the UK. Health and Care Visa holders will continue to be exempt from the higher salary threshold increase and the IHS.
- Care providers in England will now only be able to sponsor migrant workers if they are undertaking activities regulated by the Care Quality Commission.
These changes do not affect the NHS. You can read our latest news story for FAQs on what the changes mean for the NHS.
NHS Employers will continue to update our resources as more details become available. Until that time, the current immigration system and details below remain in place.
This route includes the Health and Care Visa which applies to qualified doctors, nurses, allied professionals and other professionals working in either health or social care. The minimum skill level is RQF level 3 (A-level equivalent).
When applying for a sponsorship licence you will be asked to provide an estimate of the number of certificates of sponsorships you expect to use for the next year. This can be reduced or increased if necessary. Each year you will need to renew your licence to continue to sponsor a worker. More information on sponsoring a worker can be found on the GOV.UK website.
A full list of eligible professions for the Skilled Worker Visa and their standard occupational classification (SOC) code can be found on the GOV.UK website. This list was updated in August 2023, so please refer to the UKVI guidance for the most up to date list of eligible professions for the health and care visa.
The Home Office launched a Skilled Worker Eligibility Checker (SWEC) tool to enable applicants and employers to immediately see if vacancies are eligible for a Skilled Worker Visa. The tool can be found on GOV.UK.
The Skilled Worker Visa requires applicants to have certain characteristics, three of which are fixed, and six which are tradeable however 70 points in total is required.
Individuals will need to attract the following three fixed characteristics (for 50 points):
- a job offer from an approved employer sponsor
- a job at the appropriate skill level (RQF 3 or above – A-level equivalent)
- the ability to speak English to the level set appropriate to the role.
In order to reach 70 points, they will also need to:
- attract 20 points from the other tradable characteristics.
This table outlines the characteristics, whether they are tradable or fixed and the number of points allocated to each:
|Job offer by approved sponsor||No||20|
|Job at the appropriate skill level (RQF 3 and above)||No||20|
|Speaks English at the required level||No||10|
All of the above are required.
May score one entry from each section below:
|Salary of £20,960 but in listed health/education job that meets the relevant national pay scale*||Yes||20|
|Salary of £20,960 (minimum) to £23,579||Yes||0|
|Salary of £23,580 to £26,199||Yes||10|
|Salary of £26,200 or above||Yes||20|
|Job in a shortage occupation||Yes||20|
|Education qualification: PhD in subject relevant to the job||Yes||10|
|Education qualification: PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the job||Yes||20|
|Applicant is a new entrant to the job market||Yes||20|
*The £26,200 general salary threshold outlined above will not be applied for 24 health / public sector roles, with national pay scales used to determine the appropriate salary. More details are available on the UK points-based immigration system.
Case worker information and examples are available in the Skilled worker case worker guidance, page 32.
- valid certificate of sponsorship
- job which meets the appropriate skill level
- evidence of knowledge of English language
- one or more of the other tradable characteristics to reach the 70 points
- demonstrate ability to travel and travel history over the preceding five years
- valid tuberculosis test results (if from a listed country)
- a criminal record certificate from any country where the migrant has lived for 12 months or more in the last ten years, if working with vulnerable people
- £1,270 in savings (main applicant).
The application fee for a Skilled Worker Visa varies from £719 - £1,500 per person depending on if the applicant is applying within or outside the UK and the length of visa required. Full Information including pricing is available on the GOV.UK website.
Application processing time
Decisions on visa applications are normally made within three weeks if the applicant is outside the UK. A faster decision can be made on applications by using the priority service (within five working days) or the super-priority service (by the end of the next working day), both of which come with an additional fee. Applicants can start to apply for a visa up to three months before the date they are due to start work, as stated on the certificate of sponsorship.
Immigration Health Surcharge
Those with a general Skilled Worker Visa need to also pay an IHS of £624 per year.
Applicants applying for the Health and Care Visa and their immediate family are exempt from having to pay the immigration health surcharge. Family is classed as those who are dependents of the applicant who is eligible for the health and care visa. It does not cover extended family or anyone living independently of the applicant.
Information on how individuals can claim a reimbursement for immigration health surcharge fees paid after 31 March 2020 is available from the Department of Health and Social Care on the GOV.UK website.
Switching to the Skilled Worker Visa from another visa
Switching visas is streamlined under the new system and most migrants will be able to apply to switch from one immigration route to another without having to leave the UK. This will help to support the retention of talented staff and prevent unnecessary travel.
Switching employers or job roles on the Skilled Worker Visa
The Skilled Worker Visa allows an employee to work in a sponsored role for one sponsor/employer. If someone wishes to change employers, they can do so if they receive a new qualifying job offer and Certificate of Sponsorship from another employer with a sponsor licence. The employee will have to make a new visa application.
If the employee will be doing a different job for the same employer, they will need to apply to update their visa if the new job is in a different occupation code.