Rishi Sunak to launch crackdown on legal migration by 'hiking minimum salary to £38k'

4 December 2023, 13:03

Rishi Sunak is announcing his plan to bring migration numbers down
Rishi Sunak is announcing his plan to bring migration numbers down. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Rishi Sunak is set to hike the minimum salary foreign workers must earn to well above the average wage in a bid to bring soaring levels of migration down.

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The prime minister will hike the salary threshold to £38,000, well over the current level of £26,200.

That is £3,000 more than the median salary and immigration minister Robert Jenrick's proposed level.

"People will be surprised at how strong a package it is," a senior Whitehall source told The Telegraph.

Home secretary James Cleverly is due to unveil the package on Monday in the Commons.

Immigration is a hugely important issue to voters and Mr Sunak has one eye on the forthcoming general election and the other on the right of his party, whose members have demanded tougher action on immigration and believe it's a pathway to electoral success.

Net migration hit 745,000 in the year to December 2022, keeping levels at record highs.

It is well above the roughly 300,000 the figure hovered around in the years before Brexit.

Read more: 'Worker shortage list' including ballet dancers could be axed as ministers battle to reduce migration

Sunak plans to crack down on migration
Sunak plans to crack down on migration. Picture: Alamy
The number of arrivals to the UK is soaring
The number of arrivals to the UK is soaring. Picture: ONS

Plans are also being put together to reduce the number of dependants that social care workers can bring to the UK, and the total amount of NHS and social care visas that can be awarded may also be capped - as per Mr Jenrick's ideas.

Dependants are increasingly being looked for their impact on migration numbers and there is also a proposal to raise the £18,600 income threshold needed for British citizens to bring a spouse or dependant into the UK under a family visa.

Read more: Rwanda migrants deal 'set to be sealed next week' as UK government to 'pay an extra £15 million'

The shortage occupation list, which allows businesses to recruit migrants to fill certain vacancies, could close be "scrubbed" - amid fears a clampdown on foreign labour could lead to vital positions going unfilled.

The plans come as the government tries to reboot its Rwanda plan, another method for bringing down arrivals.

James Cleverly also plans to get the Rwanda plan off the ground
James Cleverly also plans to get the Rwanda plan off the ground. Picture: Alamy

It would see asylum seekers get deported there to have their claims processed in Rwanda, where they would then stay if successful.

Mr Sunak hopes to pass legislation that would make the scheme acceptable to the courts, after the Supreme Court upheld a decision to block the flights.

Mr Cleverly is set to fly to Rwanda this evening to sign a treaty that will help resurrect the deal.

Stopping small boat crossings was one of the prime minister's key pledges when he entered No10, and the Tories hope a tough immigration stance could help restore the party's popularity with votes.