When the Government announced its 5-point immigration plan at the end of 2023, the shock increase in minimum salary thresholds for sponsored roles and dependents of British and settled persons was big news. A hike from £26,200 to £38,700 was unprecedented in scale and impact and it was intended to be – a hard-edged, uncompromising move to lock a cohort of lower paid people out of the system and, in many cases, the country.
The follow-up announcement of staggered introductions and protections for those already in the system softened the impact but ministers themselves seemed confused about what would change and when.
Unfortunately for some, it appears the Government’s concessions for family members of British and settled citizens will not extend to sponsored workers under the Points Based System after all. For them, instead of a staggered or incremental approach, there looms one giant leap.
When and what will be the increases?
As with other reforms in the 5-point announcement, specific implementation dates were initially vague. ‘Spring 2024’ is now expected to mean 4 April 2024 for the implementation of new Immigration Rules on sponsored salary thresholds, with an interim increase on 11 April to £29K for those applying as a spouse of a settled person. There is still some possibility of delay; it will be all too soon for some whenever it comes.
What does this mean in practice?
Put simply, many of the jobs detailed as Skilled Occupations in the Immigration Rules will not longer be suitable for sponsorship under the Skilled Worker or Global Business Mobility (Senior or Specialist) Worker routes.
Occupation Code 3545 is used to describe sales account and business development managers (or closely related roles).
Currently the going rate for roles under this code is £23,600. This is already below the current general threshold. From Spring 2024, to sponsor an individual under this role in most circumstances, the role will need to attract a salary of at least £38,700. This is nearly £15,000 more than the present going rate.
Occupation Code 2473 concerns advertising accounts managers and creative directors and closely related roles. At present the salary threshold to be met is the going rate which is £31,500. However, from Spring 2024 the new salary threshold in most circumstances will be £38,700.
How can businesses plan for this?
If you already hold a sponsor licence, you might consider earlier employment start dates (and sponsorship) to avoid the immediate impact of the changes.
If the person you are hiring is a ‘new entrant’ or the role is considered as a ‘shortage occupation’ after the proposals are implemented, a salary discount may still exist; this is yet to be confirmed and its shape is being worked on as we write.
This article was written by Matthew Davies, Partner and Head of Business Immigration and Stacey Lambert, Associate.
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