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Home Office Details Shake-up of Key Visas

Changes to the Skilled Worker, Innovator and Start-up Visa routes as well as Returning Residents rules have been revealed in the latest update from the Home Office.

For help and expert advice on your immigration case or to find out the new changes will impact you, contact us on 0333 305 9375 or reach out to us online today.

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    Significant Changes to UK Immigration Rules 

    The Spring update details next month’s closure of both the Innovator and Start-up Visa. The former will be replaced by the new Innovator Founder route, while the Start-up Visa will be removed completely.

    Other changes to the UK immigration rules include the limited introduction of Electronic Travel Authorisations, updated salary thresholds for workers and new criteria for returning residents.

    UK passport

    Changes to Salary Thresholds

    From April, several visas will be impacted by changes in the salary thresholds required for those looking to work in the UK.

    The annual salary threshold for most Skilled Worker Visa applications will increase by £600 from £25,600 to £26,200 per year, while the minimum hourly rate will rise from £10.10 per hour to £10.75 per hour.

    Anyone applying for a Global Business Mobility will need to meet new thresholds, with the Senior or Specialist Worker route requiring an annual income of £45,800, while a Graduate Trainee will need to demonstrate an income of £24,220 and an Expansion Worker must have a yearly salary of at least £45,800.

    The Scale-Up salary threshold has been increased from £33,000 to £34,600 and poultry workers in the UK on a Seasonal Worker Visa will be required to have an annual gross income of £26,200 compared to the previous requirement of £25,600.

    The update also details changes to how ‘going rates’ are calculated with a switch to a 37.5-hour working week rather than a 39-hour working week. This will impact particularly those working irregular hours or shift patterns.

    New Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) Rules

    From November 2023, the new Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme will begin its roll-out. The new rules will require non-UK nationals to apply for an ETA before they travel to the UK. Anyone without a valid ETA on arrival will be refused entry.

    Initially, visitors from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and Jordan will be the only ones required to follow the ETA scheme, but it is expected this will be expanded worldwide by the end of 2024.

    The impact is expected to be significant with all non-British and non-Irish travellers requiring an ETA, even if they do not currently need a visitor visa or if they are only transiting through the UK. However, anyone who requires a visa to come to the UK will not need to apply for an ETA as well.

    Each ETA will be valid for two years or until the expiry of the holder’s passport used to support their ETA application – whichever is the shorter date.

    Once granted an ETA, the holder can make unlimited trips over the two years and will not need to reapply each time they travel to the UK.

    The Home Office has not yet confirmed the cost of the ETA or the exact application processing time, however, it is expected the cost will be less than £20 and most applications will be approved within three days.

    New Innovator Founder Route

    Anyone previously planning to apply for an Innovator Visa will be able to opt for the Innovator Founder Visa. This new option no longer requires a minimum of £50.000 investment. The Home Office has also relaxed the work restrictions which means new route holders will be able to work in skilled roles while also running their own business.

    Other changes include the creation of three new endorsing bodies that will assess the suitability of applicants including looking at their past financial conduct, as well as stricter restrictions on dependents being able to accompany Innovator Founder Visa holders to the UK.

    Other Changes Included in the Spring Update

    The major update also includes forthcoming changes to the Youth Mobility Scheme and Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) criteria.

    An update to the Returning Resident rules means those who have allowed their ILR to lapse can resubmit an application if they have returned to the UK as a visitor during that time. The ILR application must be made from outside the UK.

    While New Zealand applicants for the Youth Mobility Scheme will benefit from a rise in the age limit from 30 to 35 and an expansion of the length of stay from two to three years. In addition, an extra 5,000 places have been allocated for Australian applicants and 2,000 extra places for those applying in Canada.

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