24 July 2023
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Immigration Update – Recent developments for work visas

To The Point

The Government has announced some changes to visa rules, including a range of significant visa-related fee increases and the addition of a number of roles in the construction sector to the Shortage Occupation List.  We take a look at the changes and what they mean for employers.

Increase in visa fees

The Government has announced that most immigration fees are set to rise by at least 15%. In particular:

  • The Immigration Health Surcharge is set to increase significantly from £624 per year for adults and £470 per year for dependants under 18, to £1035 and £776 respectively – approximately a 65% increase. 
  • The fees for Skilled worker applications will increase by 15%. For an individual applying within the UK for a 3-year Skilled Worker visa, this means an increase from £719 to £827.
  • Fees for priority processing will increase by at least 20%. For example, priority processing on a Skilled Worker visa application will increase from £500 to at least £600. 

It is expected that these changes will be implemented in the autumn, though a specific date has not yet been provided. We recommend that employers should consider whether they have any upcoming applications and if these should be made sooner to avoid increased costs. 

No change to the Immigration Skills Charge (which is currently £1,000 per year of sponsorship for medium or large employers and £364 per year of sponsorship for small and charitable sponsors) has been announced. 

The changes will have a particularly significant impact on employers who choose to support employees with their visa fees, such as the application fee and immigration health surcharge. One option available to such employers is to introduce a claw-back agreement for the fees that are not specifically for the employer to pay.

Changes to construction occupations

With effect from 7 August 2023, a variety of roles in the construction industry will be added to the Shortage Occupation List. This means that visa applications for roles falling under these occupation codes will be subject to lower salary requirements (80% of the going rate) and lower application fees by approximately 25%-30% (e.g. £479 instead of £719 for an application made inside the UK for a visa of 3 years or less). 

This is welcome news for employers in the construction industry, as it makes the UK more attractive to overseas construction workers and makes hiring such workers more affordable.

The roles which are included are:

  • Bricklayers and masons. 
  • Roofers, roof tilers and slaters.
  • Carpenters and joiners. 
  • Construction and building trades not elsewhere classified. (This includes, e.g., builders, building contractors, fencers, maintenance managers and property developers working in building construction.).
  • Plasterers.

Next steps

If you have any questions about any of the above changes and how they affect your organisation, please get in touch with our team.

To the Point 

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