UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is set to increase the minimum salary required for foreign nationals to stay on a work visa in the UK after a record number of arrivals.
Nigerians workers in the UK must now be earning a minimum salary of £35,000 to qualify for visa renewal when their current one expires.
This was one of the changes announced to the legal migration system on Monday (December 4), after the 2022 figures piled on pressure on the Prime Minister to act ahead of an expected election. While there is not yet a date for the next general election, it is thought Mr Sunak is lining it up for next year.
The Prime Minister’s spokesperson said he believes net migration needs to be reduced “significantly”. He has come in for criticism on the right of the Tory party after the Supreme Court overturned his proposals to send some illegal immigrants to Rwanda and he sacked Suella Braverman as his home secretary.
Annual net migration to the United Kingdom hit a record of 745,000 last year and has stayed at high levels since, data showed last month.
“We think the numbers are too high, they do need to reduce significantly and in the short term,” Mr Sunak’s spokesperson has said.
“The evidence we have is that some of the people coming across, particularly dependents, aren’t actively contributing to the workforce in any substantive way.”
The comments are likely to alarm business owners who have had to adapt to Brexit. In October, the Government’s independent migration advisor recommended abolishing one of the main routes for businesses to hire migrant workers in sectors where there are severe staff shortages.
Interior minister James Cleverly is set to give a statement to Parliament today (Monday) detailing more measures to reduce legal migration and to “stop abuse of the system”.
What is the minimum visa salary?
The current level of £26,200 is for a visa entry for a “skilled worker”. Tory backbenchers Lee Anderson and Sir Edward Leigh last week raised concerns to immigration minister Robert Jenrick that visas were being given out “like sweeties”.
Sir Edward said: “The reason we haven’t [had a rise in the figure] is that ministers know that workers in the care home sector will fall. But if we did insist on people coming to this country earning a proper wage, would there not be a virtuous circle where people in the care home sector would have to pay proper wages to look after the elderly population? It’s ridiculous that the care home sector is handing out visas like sweeties.”
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How much could the minimum visa salary rise?
The new minimum salary has yet to be confirmed, but the BBC has reported that it could rise above £35,000.