UK to ‘gradually’ adjust family visa salary requirement

Home Office says child allowances will no longer be used to calculate income requirements

Prime minister Rishi Sunak (Leon Neal/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo)

Chandrashekar Bhat

THE government has said it will raise its controversial minimum salary requirement for family visas in stages “to give predictability” to immigrant families.

It unveiled a raft of measures earlier in December, aimed at cracking down on record levels of migration – a key battleground issue in the general election expected next year.

The adjustments, announced by the Home Office on Thursday (21), comes after a previously announced 47-per cent hike in the minimum salary for skilled work visas, lifting it to £38,700.

Initially set at £29,000, up from the current £18,600, it would eventually reach the planned £38,700, though no timeline beyond spring has been detailed.

The government intends to ultimately synchronise the threshold for family visas with that of skilled work visas.

The Home Office said child allowances would no longer be used to calculate income requirements.

This would ensure that British nationals were not treated less favourably than migrants, whose threshold will be a flat rate, regardless of any children being sponsored.

Home Secretary James Cleverly said the overall plan would reduce net migration to the UK by an anticipated 300,000 people compared to the previous year.

The government also announced changes to the list of occupations in short supply, and to measures ensuring that immigrants can adequately support family members.

Tightened regulations for students and a 66-per cent increase in the health surcharge for foreigners using the NHS were also part of the broader immigration strategy.

According to recent statistics, net immigration last year was significantly higher than initial estimates, with 745,000 people arriving, far surpassing the predicted 606,000.

Immigration is set to be a key issue in nationwide elections that must be held by January 2025, and which the main opposition Labour party is currently favoured to win.

Prime minister Rishi Sunak has pledged to reduce new arrivals and has been under pressure ever since statistics released last month showed that net migration to Britain hit a high in 2022.