skilled worker route

March 20

Changes to the Skilled Worker Route

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OTB Legal

Changes to the Skilled Worker Route

Following the Government’s announcement on 04 December 2023 to cut net migration, the changes to both work and family routes were published late on the 14 March 2024.  The focus of this article is the changes to work routes, and these are significant. 

The changes affecting work routes will take effect on 04 April 2024.

What is changing? 

Salary thresholds:

First, it is worth confirming that existing salary rates will continue to apply to Certificates of Sponsorship that were assigned to employees before 04 April 2024. 

The skilled worker route base salary will be £38,700, from 04 April 2024, an increase of £12,500 from the current rate. 

04 April sees the end of the Shortage Occupation list for certificates assigned from this date.  Its replacement is the Immigration Salary list, and represents only 10% of roles on Appendix Skilled Occupations.   This is a huge reduction of roles that were eligible or the 80% discount on salaries.  Roles that do appear on the Immigration Salary List will have a base salary of £30,960.  Roles on the Immigration Salary list no longer benefit from the 20% discount to the going rate.

From 04 April, the Appendix Skilled Occupation list (containing the standard occupation classification codes (SOC Codes) will be revised to from the 2020 data, including some new SOC Codes.   Some older SOC codes from the 2010 list be removed.

Included in the revised Appendix will be significant salary increases across all occupations.  The new list will confirm going rate salaries that have increased in line with the Office of National Statistics Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE).

Discounts remain for new entrants, which will cover students, graduates and workers under the age of 26.  The going rate for new entrant roles remains 70% of the going rate or £3,960 whichever is greater.  Given that individual SOC code salaries have increased significantly, this means large increases for some sponsored roles.

PhD roles also continue to benefit from 90% of the going rate, or 80% in a STEM Subject, so the increases are to £34,380 and £30,960 respectively.

The percentile increases recommended will not apply to Health and Care Visas or roles that are on the national pay scale, although the general base rate does increase from £20,960 to £23,200

Finally, whilst the Home Office said they would not increase salary rates for those sponsored workers already on a route to settlement, they have.  Transitional salary thresholds have increased from £26,200 to £29,000 or the going rate for the SOC code set at the 25th percentile under the ONS data that the Home Office have relied upon to introduce these increases. 

The transitional rules for extensions and settlement will remain in place until 03 April 2030.

Who will these changes effect? 

Everyone!

Occupations that have been on the shortage occupation list for years are no longer included in the Immigration Salary list.  

The engineering and tech sectors will be significantly affected. 

Almost all engineering and tech sector roles have not been recommended for inclusion on the Immigration Salary list as the new median salary for these roles exceeds the sponsored base rate of £38,700.

For example, a mechanical engineer with a SOC code of 2122 and a certificate of sponsorship assigned before 04 April 2024 could be paid a minimum salary of £26,400 for a 37.5 hour week (which equates to 80% of the going rate of £33,000).   After 04 April, this salary will be £42,500.

A computer programmer employed under SOC Code 2136 had a going rate salary of £34,000, 80% of which is £27,200.   The salary after 04 April will be £49,400 under a new SOC Code of 2134.

Other Changes

The Global Business Mobility Route salary has increased from £45,800 to £48,500.

Graduate trainees under the GBM route are subject to a small salary increase from £24,220 to £25,410.

We will end on some good news. The Home Office have unexpectedly made changes to the supplementary employment rules. Whereas sponsored workers could only carry out supplementary employment in a shortage occupation or the same SOC code as their sponsored employment, these restrictions have been lifted. Supplementary work can now be any work that is capable of sponsorship.

If you would like more information on the new rules please contact the Business Immigration Team at OTB Legal.

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