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2024 Post-Election Outlook for UK Immigration

We explore recent changes to immigration policy, as well as changes that might follow the 2024 UK Election. We dive into the Conservative Party and Labour Party manifestos to see what they have planned, all in our immigration outlook article.

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This article explores:

  • Conservative Party manifesto policies on immigration
  • Labour Party manifesto policies on immigration
  • Recent changes since 2024
  • What (likely) won’t change
  • What might change
  • What to do next

What are the Positions & Policies of the Labour Party & Conservative Party?

The UK’s most prominent parties, the Conservative and Labour parties, have outlined their policies in their 2024 manifestos. We have taken some of the key policy points in the chapter on immigration. 

Conservative Party Immigration Policies

If re-elected, the Conservative Party plans to cap migration, relying on migration to address skills gaps. The Conservative Party manifesto states:

  • “Immigration is too high. We want to attract the brightest and best-skilled migrants to the UK to contribute to our businesses and public services.”
  • “We will introduce a binding, legal cap on migration, set on work and family visas so public services are protected whilst we bring the skills our businesses and the NHS needs.”
  • “We will establish a deterrent. We will run a relentless, continual process of permanently removing illegal migrants to Rwanda with a regular rhythm of flights every month.”
  • “We will reform asylum rules, holding an international summit and working with other countries to reform international laws.”

Labour Party Immigration Policies

If elected, Labour plans to enforce measures on companies that don’t engage with training initiatives to upskill UK workers. An ‘over-reliance’ on hiring overseas workers could result in sponsor licenses being revoked. The Labour Party manifesto states:

  • “We will reform the points-based immigration system so that it is fair and properly managed, with appropriate visa restrictions, and by linking immigration and skills policy.”
  • “Labour will end the long-term reliance on overseas workers in some parts of the economy by bringing in workforce and training plans for sectors such as health and social care, and construction.”
  • “Labour will bring joined-up thinking, ensuring that migration to address skills shortages triggers a plan to upskill workers and improve working conditions in the UK.”

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Recent Changes to UK Immigration Since January 2024

Automatic Extensions for Pre-Settled Status 

The EU Settlement Scheme changed in January 2024. Now, individuals with pre-settled status have received automatic extensions. This allows them to stay for five years instead of two years. These extensions are applied to the month before the original expiration date. For example, if your pre-settled status expires in July 2024, the extension occurs in June 2024.

Settled status expiry dates will also be removed from digital profiles. These are used in online checks for work and rent. This change aims to prevent a loss of status if you don’t switch to settled status. 

Digital-Only Immigration Status

The UK government plans a digital-only status system effective by the end of 2024. All information about your residence, work, or rent status in the UK will be online. This will require individuals to prove their status using their UKVI account. Physical proof will be phased out. It will be crucial for users to keep contact details up to date to avoid disruptions.

10-Year Residence ILR Requirement Updates

Changes have been made to the requirements regarding absences from the UK for 10-year-residence ILR applications.

  • Absences before 11 April 2024 must be at most 184 days at a time or 548 days total for a completed 10-year period.
  • There is no 548-day limit after 11 April 2024, but absences must not exceed 180 days in any 12-month period.

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What will and won’t change in immigration post-2024 election

Following the UK elections in 2024, changes in immigration policies are anticipated. We examine what might change, what might remain the same, and what might continue a similar trajectory.

What (likely) won’t change:

  • The EU Settlement Scheme will likely stay the same following the extension update in January 2024. This scheme provides settled or pre-settled status to EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens who were UK residents by the end of the Brexit transition period.
  • The policy direction towards a points-based immigration system introduced post-Brexit is expected to continue. This is likely the case under a Labour or Conservative UK government. This system prioritises skills and labour market needs over nationality while controlling immigration. Rishi Sunak and the Conservative Party are proposing immigration caps, while Sir Keir Starmer and the Labour Party aim to address the skills shortage by upskilling UK residents.
  • The primary visa requirements and categories for non-EU citizens will likely remain stable. Adjustments will likely focus on economic and societal needs.

What might change:

Refugee and Asylum Policies

Political shifts will likely change the UK’s refugee and asylum policies in 2024. This has been a source of debate among prospective leaders in the build-up to the general elections. Other factors, like humanitarian crises, might result in unexpected change. These might impact processing times, eligibility criteria, or refugee support systems.

Work Visa Rules

The criteria for work visas might change in line with emerging economic priorities or sector-specific needs. This could include changes in the salary thresholds, occupation lists, or provisions for seasonal workers.

Settlement Support

Integration measures are expected to be reformed to offer better settlement support. This could include measures to smooth integration into British society:

  • Language programs
  • Social service access
  • Employment support

Student Visas

Adjustments to student visa policies may occur to maintain the UK’s competitiveness in higher education.

Family Reunification

Policies regarding family reunification for immigrants settled in the UK could see amendments, potentially affecting the criteria and timelines for bringing family members to join them.

International Relations Impact

Broader international relations, such as bilateral agreements with other countries or changes in global migration trends and policies, might also influence changes in immigration policy.

Rwanda Policy

  • Under Rishi Sunak, the Conservatives have been committed to the Rwanda plan, which aims to deter irregular migration across the Channel. They argue that this policy is crucial for reducing illegal entries.
  • Home Secretary Suella Braverman, a vital proponent of the Rwanda policy, has stated, “The Rwanda scheme is essential for deterring dangerous Channel crossings and ensuring our asylum system is not overwhelmed.”​
  • Labour has indicated that if elected, it will end Rwanda’s deportation policy. It has suggested that it would prefer to negotiate a returns deal with the EU, aiming for a more cooperative approach to asylum and immigration.
  • Labour’s Yvette Cooper has criticised the policy, saying, “This plan is both inhumane and ineffective. Labour will end it and seek a humane, effective alternative.”​ 

What to Do Next

  • Monitor Policy Updates
  • Stay informed about the latest policy changes. Regularly check for official updates.
  • Ensure your UKVI account information is up-to-date and accurate to avoid immigration status issues
  • Seek advice from immigration lawyers if you need clarity on your immigration situation or status

Why Work with IAS

Immigrating to the UK can be complex, with ever-changing immigration laws.

Our UK lawyers are experienced in UK visa applications, as well as ILR and British citizenship applications. We can uncover your eligibility, application process and support you every step of the way.

From advice to submitting supporting documentation, our experts can help you with a stress-free visa application. Call us on 0333 305 4796 or contact us online to begin your UK visa application.

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