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UK Introduces Revised Visa Guidelines for Skilled Workers and Health Personnel

The United Kingdom has unveiled revisions to its visa regulations, intending to increase the minimum salary threshold for skilled worker visas and restrict the ability of health and social care staff from bringing their families to Britain.

The proposals, heralded by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s office as a significant tightening of legal migration, have sparked debates among critics who fear potential damage to the state-run National Health Service (NHS), already grappling with staff shortages.

Amid nationwide elections slated by January 2025, immigration stands as a pivotal issue, with the main opposition Labour party currently favored to win. Responding to mounting pressure following a surge in net migration to Britain in 2022, Sunak pledged to curtail new arrivals.

Interior Minister James Cleverly outlined plans to reduce immigration by 300,000 individuals in the coming years, introducing changes effective early next year. The adjustments include raising the minimum income for UK visa applicants to £38,700 and implementing similar thresholds for family visas and international students bringing dependents.

While health and social care workers are exempt from the salary increase, they will face restrictions on bringing family dependents. Concerns have been raised by NHS Providers and Care England, highlighting potential deterrence for care workers considering the UK, particularly post-Brexit, which has exacerbated staff shortages.

Cleverly also confirmed a surge in the surcharge migrants pay to access NHS services by 66 percent, drawing criticism for imposing a dual financial burden on migrant workers.

The government aims to revise the shortage occupation list to address jobs where British workers are insufficient. These measures reflect the Conservative Party’s promise to reduce net migration numbers, amplified after the end of free movement from EU member states following Brexit.

In the face of critiques and challenges, Sunak’s government seeks to grapple with irregular arrivals crossing the Channel from northern France. Efforts to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda faced legal setbacks, prompting plans for a new treaty and potential emergency legislation to resume deportation flights.

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