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A New Financial Landscape: Assessing the Immediate Changes in UK Visa Fees for Students, Workers, and Visitors

UK News

Numerous significant immigration changes are currently in the works, poised to impact UK employers. Here is an overview of the key developments:

Visa Application Fee Increase: Effective from February 6, 2024, the Immigration Health Surcharge for most adult UK visa applications is rising from £624 to £1,050 per year. Meanwhile, the lower fee for under-18s, students, and Youth Mobility Scheme applicants will increase from £470 to £776 annually.

Civil Penalties for Illegal Working: Penalties for employers found in breach of section 15 of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006, relating to employees working without a valid visa or violating visa conditions, are escalating. The fines are increasing from £15,000 to £45,000 for a first breach and tripling to £60,000 for subsequent breaches, effective from February 13.

Electronic Travel Authorisation Requirement: An Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme is being introduced for nationals from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan. Starting from February 22, 2024, these individuals will require an ETA for short stays in the UK.

MAC Assessment of Shortage Occupation List: The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) is tasked with evaluating the new Immigration Salary List, replacing the current Shortage Occupation List, by February 23, 2024. This evaluation aims to determine which roles should be included in the new list, influencing changes to the Skilled Worker path from April 4.

New Immigration Rules: Detailed Immigration Rules, including the Immigration Salary List and other changes introduced in December 2023, will be presented to Parliament. It is clarified that the planned salary threshold increase will not affect those already in the Skilled Worker route when changing sponsors, extending visas, or settling. The new rules are expected to take effect in most cases from April 4.

Skilled Worker Visa Changes: Effective from April 4, changes to the Skilled Worker Visa include raising the overall salary threshold from £26,200 to £38,700 for new applicants. The 20% going rate discount for Shortage Occupation List occupations is removed, and annual going rates for eligible occupations under the Skilled Worker course are increased.

Sponsor Licence Renewal Requirement Removal: Sponsors with licences expiring on or after April 6 are relieved from the renewal obligation and fee. While this is a positive development, sponsors are urged to maintain readiness for potential Home Office compliance visits, as the removal of the renewal process might lead to increased compliance checks.

Digitization of UK Immigration System: The Home Office is progressively digitizing the UK immigration system. While more applicants are receiving e-visas, those with physical Biometric Residence Permits (BRPs) may notice an expiry date of December 31, 2024. From January 1, 2025, BRP holders can prove their immigration status online, with the Home Office encouraging registration for a UVKI account during 2024 to access immigration status information without a physical BRP.


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