Changes on Skilled Worker Visa has been announced. What does it mean for the companies?
As of 12 April 2023, some significant changes to the Skilled Worker visa route has been announced. The UK government has announced an increase in the National Living Wage, which will also result in an increase to the Skilled Worker visa salary thresholds.
For most applications, the minimum gross annual salary threshold will increase from £25,600 to £26,200, with a corresponding increase in the minimum hourly rate from £10.10 per hour to £10.75 per hour. This change may impact a range of sponsored roles, particularly in sectors such as hospitality, where salaries often fall close to the minimum threshold.
In addition to the above changes, the minimum gross annual salary for eligible PhD-qualified occupations will increase from £23,040 to £23,580, while the minimum gross annual salary for shortage occupation list roles, certain STEM roles, new entrants, and certain healthcare roles will increase from £20,480 to £20,960.
There will also be new going rates for individual occupations, which will now be based on a 37.5-hour working week instead of a 39-hour working week. This means that proposed salaries will need to be pro-rated to determine eligibility for sponsorship if employees are contracted for longer weekly working hours.
It's important to note that these changes will only apply to visa applications made using a certificate of sponsorship issued on or after 12 April 2023. Applications made using a certificate of sponsorship issued before this date will still be decided in accordance with the Immigration Rules in force on 11 April 2023.
Existing sponsored workers need not worry, as there is no immediate requirement for employers to take any action from an immigration perspective. However, when it comes to a worker's next visa extension or settlement stage, employers will need to ensure that salaries align with the new mandatory minimums.
For roles where there are irregular working patterns, the Home Office has published rules on how salary is to be calculated. This includes considering work in excess of 48 hours in some weeks towards the salary thresholds, providing the average over a regular cycle (which can be less than, but not more than, 17 weeks) is not more than 48 hours a week. Any unpaid rest weeks will count towards the average when considering whether the salary thresholds are met, but will not count as absences from employment.
It's important to seek specialist advice regarding your specific circumstances, as the content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter.
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