Net migration package delivered as family visa tightened

Income required to bring family to the UK increased as final measure of package to reduce legal migration comes into force

The Home Secretary has delivered on his promise to transform the UK’s immigration system, cut unsustainable and unfair levels of migration, and ensure those arriving here do not burden the taxpayer.  

The final measure in the Prime Minister and Home Secretary’s package to reduce legal migration will see the minimum income required to sponsor someone coming to the UK on a family visa increased from £18,600 to £29,000 from today (11 April) – an increase of more than 55%. By early 2025, this will have increased 2 more times, rising to £38,700 – to meet the new salary threshold for a Skilled Worker visa. 

Today’s change comes as the Home Secretary meets his commitment to implement his major package of reforms to the immigration system within weeks of announcing them – which came following the unveiling of measures to tighten the student visa route in May 2023. It means approximately 300,000 people arriving in the UK last year would no longer be able to. 

The full set of measures, which have all been implemented, include: 

  • ending the ability of nearly all students to bring dependants to the UK
  • restricting care workers from bringing family members
  • requiring care providers to register with the Care Quality Commission if they are sponsoring migrant care workers
  • commissioning the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to carry out a rapid review of the Graduate route for international students to prevent abuse, protect the integrity and quality of UK higher education and ensure it works in the best interests of the UK
  • increasing the minimum salary required for those arriving on the Skilled Worker visa, from £26,200 to £38,700
  • replacing the Shortage Occupation List with a new Immigration Salary List, with employers no longer able to pay migrants less than UK workers in shortage occupations

Home Secretary, James Cleverly, said: 

"We have reached a tipping point with mass migration. There is no simple solution or easy decision which cuts numbers to levels acceptable to the British people. 

"Whether it was words unsupported by action, unfounded optimism or just plain wishful thinking that migration would fall on its own, indifference of any kind is never going to work - only determined action, backed by strong resolve, will deliver needed change. 

"I promised action and we have delivered at remarkable speed. We’ve acted to cut unsustainable numbers, to protect British workers and their wages, to ensure those bringing family to the UK do not burden taxpayers, and to build an immigration system fit for the future - and one the public can rightly have confidence in."

The staged approach to increasing the income requirement gives predictability to families, enabling them to plan accordingly, whilst ensuring that anyone coming to the UK to be with their family or loved ones is supported financially. 

The government has been clear that family life cannot be established in the UK at the expense of taxpayers, and migrants joining their family must integrate into society and play a full part in British life. 

The income requirement, which had remained unchanged for more than a decade, helps to ensure families are self-sufficient and not relying on public funds, whilst making a positive impact on the economy. The sponsoring family member, or in combination with the applicant if they are in the UK with permission to work, must now have an income of at least £29,000 earned in the UK. The requirement can be met in a number of ways, including through savings exclusively or in addition to a lower income. 

The government has been clear that current levels of immigration are too high – putting pressure on public services, housing, and undercutting British workers – which is why decisive action was taken in December. The government’s ambition for a high-skill, high-wage economy cannot rely on mass migration, and measures introduced as part of the package will protect British workers, encourage business to invest in, and recruit, workers domestically, while prioritising only the very best talent from abroad. 

Delivery of this comprehensive series of measures comes as the government cracks down on rising migration, both legally and illegally, and reforms the immigration system. The plan is working, with small boats crossings down by around a third last year. Work continues to tackle this global challenge and this includes stepped-up enforcement action with international partners to clamp down on criminal gangs.

From: Home Office and The Rt Hon James Cleverly MP