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Major UK Visa Overhaul: New Rules, Big Impacts

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By Sanwar Ali:


In December 2023, the UK government, led by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, announced a set of stringent visa restrictions aimed at reducing migration. These measures, introduced by Home Secretary James Cleverly, include a significant increase in the minimum salary requirement for skilled worker visas to around £38,000 and a ban on dependents for overseas care workers. This article aims to critically explore the implications of these new rules on foreign workers and the healthcare sector, reflecting the government's commitment to controlling legal migration. UK work visas come under the Skilled Worker visa and sponsor licence scheme.

Overview of Proposed Visa Restrictions

Mr. Cleverly's announcement revealed an upsurge in the minimum salary for skilled worker visas to £38,700, a substantial leap from the previous £26,200. This change is likely to impact foreign workers who were previously eligible for visas. Additionally, an announcement was made to ban overseas care workers from bringing their dependents to the UK, which has sparked controversy. The expected changes will impact the number of dependants migrants can bring to the UK, further limiting entry pathways.

Impact on Healthcare Workers and Businesses

The healthcare sector stands on the front lines of this policy shift, facing potential challenges due to the proposed visa restrictions. The sector's heavy reliance on international recruitment is anticipated to be significantly impacted. Care providers are expected to face staffing shortages, given the restrictions on overseas care workers' ability to bring their dependents. Business owners and care sector professionals have voiced concerns about these new rules, fearing an exacerbation of the existing staff shortages and a decline in the quality of care services.

Political and Economic Context

Set against a backdrop of political pressure following Brexit and a record 745,000 net migration last year, these visa restrictions represent a key aspect of the UK's evolving immigration policy. They signify a departure from previous policies, highlighting the government's commitment to reshaping the labor market in a post-Brexit UK.

Reactions and Criticisms

The proposed visa restrictions have elicited diverse reactions. Stakeholders, including politicians, business owners, and healthcare representatives, have voiced concerns. Critics emphasize the risk of exacerbating workforce shortages and undermining the quality of care services. Specific statements from key figures illustrate the breadth of the debate surrounding these policies.


The UK government's proposed visa restrictions mark a pivotal moment in the UK's approach to immigration, with significant implications for foreign workers, particularly in the healthcare sector. As discussions continue, the long-term effects of these changes on the UK's immigration landscape, healthcare system, and economic health remain a subject of intense scrutiny and debate.

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