Changes to the UK immigration policy FAQ

Find out what the recent changes to UK immigration policy mean for NHS trusts with our brief FAQ.

5 December 2023

On 4 December 2023, the UK government announced changes to the immigration system that will take effect from Spring 2024. In response, we have pulled together a brief FAQ below.

Details of the changes to the immigration system can be found on the .GOV website

The changes being made to the Health and Care Visa route will only affect the care sector.  When the changes take effect, care workers and senior care workers will be unable to bring dependents when they migrate to the UK, and only CQC-registered providers in England will be able to sponsor Health and Care Visa applicants.  These changes do not affect the NHS.

Other changes, such as the increase in salary thresholds, do not apply to the Health and Care Visa route. Health and Care Visa holders will continue to be exempt from paying the Immigrational Health Surcharge (IHS).

The government stated it will ask the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to review replacing the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) with an Immigration Salary List (ISL) with reduced occupations and also review the Graduate Visa route. 

The government has reassured us that, while it is determined to reduce net migration, it understands the importance of internationally educated health and care workers.  We understand that these changes are likely to result in a number of questions, especially for internationally educated staff and those working on international recruitment.  

This FAQ is based on what we know now and we anticipate that there are some questions we can’t answer yet. 

Please continue to check the NHS Employers and  .GOV websites for latest information.

For updated examples, FAQs and up to date guidance on how these immigration changes impact the NHS, please refer to this article

  • A. There are no changes to the policy on dependants for NHS staff. You will be able to bring your partner and children as your dependants if they’re eligible.  A dependant partner or child is any of the following:

    • your husband, wife, civil partner or unmarried partner
    • your child under 18 - including if they were born in the UK during your stay
    • your child over 18 if they’re currently in the UK as your dependant

    You will still need to provide evidence of your relationship to your dependant when you apply for their visa.

  • A. Yes.  There are no changes to eligibility of dependents for NHS staff. 

  • A.  We expect the changes to take effect in Spring 2024. We will provide an update when we have more information.

  • A. If you are being recruited to an NHS role there should be no changes to your current offer. 

  • A. If you are being recruited to an NHS role there should be no changes to your current offer. Your agency or employer should be able to advise when you might expect to start work – but these changes will not affect your current offer.

  • A. This Q&A is for NHS staff only.  We hope to provide a link to advice for care workers shortly.

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