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How do the New Immigration Rules UK Affect Health and Social Care Workers in 2024?

Making Care Better 02/04/24 Yanique Barnett-Brown

In the wake of recent changes to the UK's immigration rules, health and social care workers face a new landscape when considering employment in the UK

The UK's new dependent visa new rules 2024 for care workers signal a significant shift in the nation's approach to health and social care employment. With the Home Office estimating a reduction of dependents by 120,000 per year without affecting worker numbers, the health and care dependent visa UK sector faces an unprecedented scenario.

Concern mounts within the social care industry as these changes could worsen existing recruitment challenges. The Government's stance on these regulations, lacking concrete evidence, leaves stakeholders questioning the real impact on the sector's workforce dynamics.

Overview of the New Immigration Rules for Health and Social Care Workers

In the wake of recent changes to the UK's immigration rules, health and social care workers face a new landscape when considering employment in the UK. These changes, set to take effect in 2024, introduce several significant adjustments:

  • Dependent Visa Restrictions: From March 11, 2024, care workers and senior care workers will be unable to bring dependents to the UK. This marks a considerable shift, aiming to regulate the influx of dependents but posing challenges for potential migrants seeking family unity.
  • Salary Threshold Adjustments:
    • Health and Care Visa: A new minimum salary threshold of £23,200 is set for Certificates of Sponsorship for Health and Care Visa applicants, effective from April 4, 2024. This applies to certain occupations, including those with NHS bands, requiring them to meet this threshold or the national pay scale for their role, whichever is higher.
    • Skilled Worker Visa: For overseas workers requiring a general Skilled Worker Visa but sponsored by an NHS organization, the new salary threshold will increase to £38,700 from April 4, 2024. This represents a significant hike from the previous threshold, aiming to ensure that immigrants can financially support themselves without depending on public funds.
  • Regulatory Changes:
    • Sponsorship Regulations: Only Care Quality Commission-registered providers in England will be eligible to sponsor Health and Care Visa applicants, ensuring a standardised level of care and accountability across the sector.
    • Immigration Salary List (ISL): The introduction of the ISL on April 4, 2024, replacing the Shortage Occupation List (SOL), reflects a strategic move to align immigration with the nation's economic needs, focusing on filling gaps in the labour market with a more targeted approach.

Implications for Health and Social Care Employers

The upcoming changes to the UK dependent visa new rules 2024 for care workers and the adjustments in the health and care dependent visa UK bring a mix of challenges and opportunities for health and social care employers. Here’s a closer look:

  • Recruitment and Retention:
    • Employers may need to rethink their recruitment strategies, focusing more on local talent or exploring new international markets that are not as dependent-centric.
    • Retention efforts might need to intensify, emphasising career development and employee benefits to make positions more appealing to current staff, potentially offsetting the reduced influx of international workers.
  • Compliance and Administration:
    • The requirement for Care Quality Commission (CQC)-registered sponsorship demands a robust administrative setup from employers, ensuring they meet the new regulatory standards.
  • Workforce Planning:
    • Long-term workforce planning becomes crucial, with a need to forecast and adapt to the changing landscape of the health and social care sector.
    • Employers should consider investing in training programs for upskilling existing staff and making the sector more attractive to domestic workers, balancing the expected decrease in dependent visa applications.

Challenges and Potential Outcomes for the Health and Social Care Sector

These measures, described by Downing Street as 'the biggest clampdown on legal migration ever,' aim to significantly reduce the entry of migrant workers and their dependents. However, this approach raises several concerns:

  • Potential Staff Shortages: With the NHS and social care sector already under strain, these changes could exacerbate existing challenges, leading to more vacancies and, in some cases, substandard care.
  • Impact on Long-term Economic Growth: The restrictions could harm the UK's economic prospects by limiting the influx of skilled workers necessary for the health sector's sustainability.
  • Projected Reductions in Entrants: An estimated 100,000 fewer entrants through health and social care routes could deepen the staffing crisis, given the current 152,000 care worker vacancies in England.

These developments underscore a critical juncture for the UK's health and social care sector, necessitating strategic adjustments to navigate the evolving immigration landscape while ensuring the delivery of high-quality care.

Conclusion and Future Prospects

The UK's new immigration rules pose both significant challenges and potential opportunities for health and social care workers, underlining a pivotal moment for the sector. The restrictions on dependent visas, alongside the adjustments to salary thresholds and regulatory changes, present a complex landscape for both current and prospective employers and employees. These measures, aimed at refining the immigration system, will require careful navigation to ensure the continued provision of quality care amid evolving workforce dynamics.

Employers, in particular, must strategise to mitigate potential disruptions through focused recruitment, retention, and workforce planning efforts. For those seeking guidance or further information on navigating these changes, request a call-back for tailored advice.


What adjustments are being made to UK immigration rules for skilled workers in 2024?

In 2024, the UK will introduce changes to the Skilled Worker visa. From April 4, 2024, the minimum salary requirement for this visa will increase to either £38,700 or the standard rate for the specific job, whichever is higher. The relevant job roles will be defined according to the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system from 2020, replacing the SOC from 2010.

Will the Post-Study Work (PSW) visa in the UK be available in 2024?

Starting January 1, 2024, the UK will restrict the Post-Study Work (PSW) visa for international students. Students will no longer be able to bring their dependents (such as a spouse, civil partner, or children) with them to the UK on their student visa. This restriction, however, does not apply to those enrolled in postgraduate research programs.

What is the UK seasonal work visa for 2024?

The UK seasonal work visa for 2024 has been updated to include a larger quota, allowing for 55,000 visas. Individuals on this visa typically engage in seasonal labor such as picking and packing fruits and vegetables, working with flowers, or in poultry. The usual processing time for this type of work visa is three to four weeks, with applicants expected to receive their results within three weeks.

Is it permissible to work while on a visitor visa in the UK in 2024?

Under the revised immigration rules effective in 2024, visitors to the UK are allowed to work remotely for their overseas employer while in the country. However, it is important to note that this remote work should not be the primary reason for their visit to the UK.

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