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Managing UK Work Visa Route Changes: Effects on Businesses and Individuals


The recent overhaul of the UK's work visa routes, particularly the introduction of the Immigration Salary List (ISL), has significant implications for businesses and individuals alike. Let's get into the details and see how these changes might affect the space.

The Immigration Salary List (ISL)
What is the ISL?
  • The ISL replaces the previous Shortage Occupation List (SOL).

  • It contains 21 occupations (reduced from the previous 54) eligible for the Skilled Worker (SW) route.

  • Jobs on the ISL benefit from a 20% discount to the threshold rate (£38,700).


Impact on Businesses Hiring Overseas

1. Higher Salary Thresholds:

  • The minimum salary threshold for a Skilled Worker visa application has increased significantly.

  • Businesses hiring overseas talent must now meet the higher of two criteria:

  • £38,700: The new standard minimum salary requirement.

  • Going Rate for the Role: Determined based on the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) 2020 and median (50th percentile) of the 2023 Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) data.

  • This may pose challenges for businesses seeking cost-effective solutions

2. Reduced Pool of Eligible Roles:

  • With fewer occupations on the ISL, businesses may face limitations in recruiting specific skill sets.

  • Sourcing talent for roles not on the ISL becomes more competitive.

3. Strategic Workforce Planning:

  • Businesses must reassess their workforce needs and align them with the new salary thresholds.

  • Investing in training and upskilling existing employees may become crucial.


Impact on Individuals Looking to Work in the UK

1. Salary Expectations:

  • Prospective migrants must be aware of the higher salary requirements.

  • The SW route now demands a median salary, which may affect job seekers' expectations.

2. Occupation-Specific Thresholds:

  • The ISL introduces occupation-specific thresholds.

  • Individuals must research their specific roles to understand the salary criteria.

3. Health & Care Worker (H&CW) Visa Exemption:

  • Healthcare workers continue to benefit from a lower threshold (£29,000).

  • The exemption recognises their public value and ensures a steady supply of essential workers.


Strategies for success
1. Businesses:

Strategic Recruitment: Focus on roles on the ISL or invest in training for non-ISL roles.

Salary Reviews: Evaluate existing employees' salaries to meet the new thresholds.

Collaboration: Engage with policymakers to advocate for workforce needs.

2. Individuals:

Research: Understand salary expectations for your occupation.

Upskilling: Enhance your skills to remain competitive.

Healthcare Workers: Explore opportunities within the H&CW visa category.

Conclusion: Getting Around the New Terrain

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) says that the main benefit of the ISL is that it allows employers to recruit migrants on a salary below the general threshold, with the discount being a maximum of 20%, but in order for them to conduct a thorough full review of the ISL later this year, they require further clarity from the government on what the benefits and longer-term purpose of the ISL will be, thus the new discount could be for a short period.

With the implementation of the new ISL, the minimum salary requirements will become even more complex in order to account for the differences in minimum income thresholds between roles in the public and private education and healthcare sectors.

We advise submitting applications by April 4, 2024, for positions that are expected to pay less than the revised minimum salary criteria and for which sponsorship can be provided. Businesses and individuals must adapt swiftly to these changes. As the UK charts its post-Brexit course, finding the right equilibrium will determine its success in a global talent market.

For more updates, follow our pages, and Contact Us today for personalised advice on how your business can adjust to these changes.

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