What do employers need to know about the recent changes to the immigration rules?

The Home Office has issued a number of changes to immigration rules, some of which came into effect this month and some to come into force in the future. Although there are numerous changes, we have summarised the main changes of which employers will need to be aware.

The general salary thresholds are increasing under the Skilled Worker route

Employers with sponsor licenses can sponsor migrant workers if the positions fulfil specific criteria, including minimum salaries. Starting from 12th April 2023, the Home Office has announced that the minimum salary requirement for sponsored migrants will rise, as well as the going rate for many roles. This is due to the fact that generally wages are increasing and so is the national minimum wage. 

This will have significant implications for sponsors who hire staff for positions that are in close proximity to the present minimum salary thresholds, such as in the hospitality sector. 

The minimum hourly wage will increase from £10.10 per hour to £10.75 per hour. The minimum annual salary requirement for Skilled Worker visas will also increase from £25,600 to £26,200 per year. 

The replacement of the Start-up visa with the new Innovator Founder route

The Home Office announced that the Start-up and Innovator visa routes will be replaced by a single ‘Innovator Founder’ route with greater flexibility. 

Under the new ‘Innovator Founder’ route, applicants will still need to be endorsed by a Home Office approved endorsing body. Applicants will also need to show that the business proposal is innovative, viable and scalable. 

However, applicants will no longer need to show funds of at least £50,000 available to invest in the new business. Another welcomed change is that those applicants will be allowed to take up secondary employment beyond their business, provided that the employment is at a skill level of at least RQF Level 3, which is equivalent to A-levels. 

These changes will provide greater flexibility for entrepreneurs. It will also assist entrepreneurs to earn a living and sustain themselves in the UK until their business reaches a point where they no longer need to rely on a secondary job. 

The launch of the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme

The UK’s new Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme is a system that is being implemented to facilitate travel and immigration processes for visitors to the UK. 

Under this scheme, visitors from countries that are currently exempt from requiring a visa to enter the UK will be required to apply for an ETA before their journey. The ETA will be a digital document that will contain information about the visitor, including their personal details and the purpose of their visit. 

The purpose of the ETA is to improve border security and simplify the immigration process for travellers. 

The Government has announced that the scheme will be rolled out to visitors from Qatar first in October 2023. By the end of 2024, travellers from countries such as Australia, the US, and Europe who are not required to have a visa for short-term visits will be mandated to complete the new security screening system worldwide. 

For employment advice, please contact a member of our multi-and winning Employment Team on 0333 323 5292.



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