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New Salary Rules and New SOC for Skilled Workers

13 May 2024
New Salary Rules and New SOC for Skilled Workers

The Home Office has now published the new Immigration Rules, including the new SOC 2020, taking effect from April 2024.

The new salary rules reflect the government’s efforts to prevent UK employers from hiring overseas migrant workers at low salaries, which the government believes is detrimental to the UK job market and unfair to local workers.

The most significant impact on UK sponsors and skilled workers include:

  • In principle, new Skilled Worker applicants must be paid at least a gross annual salary of £38,700 (increased from previous £26,200), or the going rate for the specific occupation, whichever is higher.
  • Certain listed health or education occupations can be paid at a lower salary. These applicants must meet both the general minimum threshold of £23,200 and the going rate for the specific occupation, based on 37.5 working hours a week.
  • For example, for nurses at the lowest Band 3, the general minimum salary is £23,200 and the going rate in England is £22,816; the applicant must thus be paid at least £23,200. For nurses at Band 5, the general minimum salary is £23,200 and the going rate in England is £28,407; the applicant must therefore be paid at least £28,407.
  • The Shortage Occupation List has been replaced by the Immigration Salary List (ISL). The list is much reduced to approximately 23 occupations. These occupations can be paid at a lower rate, ranging from £30,900 or £23,200, depending on whether they are
  • – new skilled workers, or
  • – workers applying for permission to stay (see below) and they were previously granted a skilled worker visa under the old rules, which was in force before 04 April 2024.
  • The new Rules divide applicants into two main groups: new skilled worker applicants and applicants who are already a skilled worker and is applying for permission to stay (extension or settlement).
  • For new skilled worker: they must be paid at least £38,700 or the going rate, whichever is higher, unless they meet one of the following conditions, in which case they may be paid at a discounted rate, starting from £30,900.
  • They have PhD degree in relation to their occupation;
  • The occupation is one in the Immigration Salary List (shortage occupations);
  • They are new entrants: under the age of 26; or their last visa was Student/Graduate, which is either current or expired no more than 2 years; or working towards regulated professional qualifications, etc.

For applicants who were granted skilled worker visa under the old Rules and now making application for extension or settlement: they must be paid at least £29,000 or the going rate, whichever is higher, unless one of the above conditions applies, in which case, they may be paid at a lower rate, starting from £23,200.

Take Financial Managers (SOC 1131) as an example. A new applicant for a skilled worker visa must be paid a gross annual salary of £70,000 (the going rate) or above. Whereas, if they are already in the UK as a skilled worker under the old Rules and are applying for permission to stay, regardless of whether the occupation has changed*, they could benefit from the lower salary requirement, which is £45,000 (the going rate) for Financial Managers.

* Note: for some occupations, the applicants must continue to work for the same sponsor in order to eligible for lower salary requirement.

A list of “Health and Care ASHE salary job” is created under the new Rules, including the following 10 occupations:

  • 1171 Health services and public health managers and directors
  • 1231 Health care practice managers
  • 1232 Residential, day and domiciliary care managers and proprietors
  • 2113 Biochemists and biomedical scientists
  • 2114 Physical scientists
  • 3111 Laboratory technicians
  • 3211 Dispensing opticians
  • 3212 Pharmaceutical technicians
  • 6135 Care workers and home carers
  • 6136 Senior care workers;

Applicants of these occupations may be paid at a lower salary, regardless of whether they are existing skilled worker or new workers.

Other ways migrants can be paid less would be if:

  • They are under 26, studying or a recent graduate, or in professional training
  • They have a science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) PhD level qualification that is relevant to their job
  • They have a postdoctoral position in science or higher education
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