Immigration Changes 2024: What do they mean for the veterinary profession?

On 4 December 2023 the UK’s Home Secretary, James Cleverly, announced upcoming changes to visa rules. These are expected to come into effect in Spring 2024.

We’ve previously reported on visa requirements for the veterinary profession.

What announcements have been about the changes?

While details have not yet been announced, Mr Cleverly unveiled a five-point plan, encapsulating the essence of these changes.

  1. Social care workers will not be allowed to bring dependants (partners and children) on their visa
  2. The minimum salary required to be sponsored for a Skilled Worker visa will rise from £26,200 to £38,700 (with the exception of Health and Care Worker visa)
  3. The Shortage Occupation List, from which is it possible to sponsor overseas workers below the minimum salary, will be overhauled, significantly reducing the number of jobs this applies to
  4. The minimum income required to sponsor someone for a spouse/partner visa will more than double, rising from £18,600 to £38,700
  5. The Graduate visa (a two-year unsponsored work permit for overseas graduates of British universities) will be reviewed by The Migration Advisory Committee

What does this mean for the Veterinary profession?

At present, veterinarians are featured on the Shortage Occupation List within all parts of the UK: England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. It has not yet been confirmed whether the profession will remain on the list.

What if I am already working in the UK on a visa?

The initial information indicates that the new policies will not be applied retrospectively.

However, on 11 December, a response to a parliamentary question stated that there will be “transitional arrangements” for people who are working via a Skilled Worker visa.

In some circumstances, individuals can be paid less than the minimum salary and still have access to Skilled Worker visa sponsorship. These circumstances include “new entrants” to the labour market, such as people aged under 26 and post-doctoral researchers.

The government has said it is currently working to establish policy specifics, which includes decisions about renewals. Until these details are confirmed and the immigration rules amended, the minimum income threshold will remain the same.

When will more information be released?

In order for the changes to be implemented they need to be presented to parliament as a statement of changes, prior to publishing. Usually, there are at least 21 says between the statement being laid and its contents taking effect. This is normally longer, in practise.