Key changes to the skilled worker visa route

The UK government has announced significant changes to the Skilled Worker visa route that came into effect on 4 April 2024.

The key updates include:

Increased Salary Thresholds

  • The minimum general salary threshold for Skilled Workers is increasing from £26,200 to £38,700 per year – a 48% increase.
  • The “going rates” or occupation-specific salary thresholds are also increasing substantially, from the 25th percentile to the 50th percentile (median) of full-time earnings for that occupation.

This change will impact the NHS and healthcare sector, as employers may need to adjust salaries to meet the new threshold, potentially affecting recruitment and retention of international staff.

Transitional Arrangements

  • Those who had a Skilled Worker visa before 4 April 2024, and apply to extend it or apply for settlement before 4 April 2030, do not need to meet the new salary thresholds. Instead, they only need to be paid whichever is the higher of £29,000 and the ‘lower going rate’ for that job.
  • For the transitional arrangements to apply, Skilled Worker visa holders must make sure they extend their permission to retain lawful status and remain under this route. Following this, Indefinite Leave to Remain applications must be made before 4 April 2030.

Immigration Salary List Replaces Shortage Occupation List

  • The Shortage Occupation List (SOL) has been replaced by a more limited Immigration Salary List (ISL) containing just 21 eligible occupations.
  • The 20% salary discount for shortage occupations has been removed, except for jobs on the new ISL.

Dependant Restrictions

  • Care workers and senior care workers migrating to the UK will no longer be able to bring dependants.
  • Sponsorship for Health and Care Visa applicants will be limited to CQC-registered providers in England.

This change will affect the ability of care workers and senior care workers to bring their families to the UK, potentially impacting their recruitment and retention.

If you are being recruited to an NHS role under a general Skilled Worker Visa, these changes may impact you, depending on the role you are undertaking and when you expect to arrive.

Supplementary Employment

The ability for Skilled Workers to have supplementary employment has been expanded to allow work in a wider range of occupations, while employers face more stringent compliance requirements when hiring these workers for additional roles.

Skilled Workers will now be able to take on supplementary employment in any occupation that is eligible under the Skilled Worker route, not just the same occupation as their sponsored role. The supplementary employment must still be done outside the contracted working hours of the sponsored job and is limited to a maximum of 20 hours per week.

Employers taking on Skilled Workers for supplementary employment must now conduct additional checks, including verifying the worker’s eligibility, getting confirmation from the sponsor employer, and ensuring the worker is not exceeding the 20-hour limit across all supplementary jobs.


The NHS will not be directly impacted by the changes to the Skilled Worker visa route as they will continue to have access to the Health and Care Visa route, which is exempt from the increased salary threshold and Immigration Health Surcharge.

The changes to the Skilled Worker visa system will have significant implications for the health and social care sector, particularly in terms of recruitment and retention of international staff. Employers may need to adjust salaries to meet the new threshold, and the restriction on dependants will affect the ability of care workers and senior care workers to bring their families to the UK.

Henrietta Donnelly is a solicitor in our employment law team. If you have any questions or concerns about any of the issues discusses in this article, contact us today.





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