Home Office slow down new migration salary threshold hikes after furious backlash

21 December 2023, 18:39 | Updated: 21 December 2023, 19:12

Cabinet Meeting in Downing Street
Home Secretary James Cleverly has rowed back on visa thresholds. Picture: Getty
Natasha Clark

By Natasha Clark

The Home Office has slowed down new salary threshold rules required for people to bring their family to the UK after a backlash.

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Earlier this month the Home Secretary, James Cleverly outlined plans for the amount needed for people to earn to rise to £38,700 a year from next spring, in a bid to cut migration numbers.

But government documents slipped out tonight mean it will only go up to £29,000 from the spring instead.

They still say that it will go up to the higher total, but haven't set a date for doing this.

The Home Office think that around 50-60% of working age UK people will meet this new threshold.

Between 10,000 - 30,000 people would be affected by this, the Home Office think, but admit it is highly uncertain.

Some applicants will still be able to get permission if a refusal would breach Article 8 of the ECHR - the right to family life - the Home Office say.

And tonight ministers have finally confirmed that most people who are already here will be able to re-apply for their visas under the old rules.

LBC has heard from dozens of worried Brits who fear their families could have to split up under the new rules.

The Home Office said: "Those already in the Skilled Worker route before the Immigration Rules changes should be exempt from the new median salary levels when they change sponsor, extend, or settle.

"Those who already have a family visa within the five-year partner route, or who apply before the minimum income threshold is raised, will continue to have their applications assessed against the current income requirement and will not be required to meet the increased threshold.

"This will also be the case for children seeking to join or accompany parents."

The news will be a huge relief for thousands of families who feared being split up.

Crowds of protesters hold placards and banners to support...
Protestors outside the Home Office. Picture: Getty

Mr Cleverly unveiled the salary change as part of a five-point plan to reduce legal migration after net migration hit 745,000 last year.

Home Office minister Lord Sharpe of Epsom confirmed the change of plans in answer to a written parliamentary question on Thursday.

Lord Sharpe said: "In spring 2024, we will raise the threshold to £29,000, that is the 25th percentile of earnings for jobs which are eligible for Skilled Worker visas, moving to the 40th percentile (currently £34,500) and finally the 50th percentile (currently £38,700 and the level at which the general skilled worker threshold is set) in the final stage of implementation."

There was no timetable for when it will go up.

The Prime Minister previously told MPs the Government was looking at "transitional arrangements" for changes to the thresholds to make sure they are "fair".

The Liberal Democrats suggested the planned £38,700 threshold was "unworkable".

The party's home affairs spokesman Alistair Carmichael added: "This was yet another half-thought through idea to placate the hardliners on their own back benches.

"James Cleverly needs to put down the spade and stop digging. Decisions like this should be made by experts and politicians working together.

"He should also publish the advice from the Treasury and OBR (Office for Budget Responsibility) about the impact that his package of changes will have on the economy."

Tom hears from caller impacted by new salary requirements for Brits with foreign spouses

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