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Migration numbers fall further as measures have major impact

Government action cuts migration on key routes by 25% in the first 4 months of 2024, compared to the same period in 2023.

Visa applications across key routes have fallen by a quarter in the first 4 months of 2024, as the Home Secretary’s package to reduce unsustainable migration continues to deliver. 

Government measures to tighten student visas, which came into force in January, have prevented most international students starting courses this year from bringing family members with 79% fewer student dependent applications in the first 4 months of 2024. Students can also no longer switch their visa before completing their course, preventing people using the route as a backdoor to work in the UK, while clamping down on institutions which undermine the UK’s reputation by selling immigration not education. There were more than 30,000 fewer student visa applications made between January to April 2024 compared to the same period in 2023. 

Data also shows that in the first full month the restrictions on care worker dependants were in place, there was a 58% fall in Health and Care dependant application numbers, from 15,100 in April 2023 to 6,400 in April 2024. The government has been clear that the unprecedented rise in care worker dependant visa numbers had been both disproportionate and unsustainable. Together with efforts to crack down on abuse, through our changes requiring firms sponsoring migrant care workers in England to be CQC registered, we are determined to see these numbers continue to fall.

The monthly visa figures come ahead of the ONS’s net migration stats for the year ending December 2023 being published tomorrow and the government’s quarterly immigration statistics for the year ending March 2023. However, the ONS figures do not take into account the major package measures announced in December which have already started to have an effect.

The monthly data provides an up to date picture of visa applications across key routes, with early signs that the government’s tough measures are reducing legal migration.

Home Secretary James Cleverly recently said:   

The plan to deliver the largest ever cut to legal migration in our country’s history is working. This monthly data is the most up to date picture of visa levels, showing that on current trajectories legal migration continues to fall across key routes.

The British people deserve an immigration system that puts their interests first. Our approach is about control and fairness; to the highly skilled coming here who deserve a decent wage, to taxpayers who shouldn’t be relied on to support them, and to British workers who shouldn’t be undercut.

We will continue to keep these measures under close review and if needed, we will not hesitate to go further.

Taken together, the Home Secretary’s package to reduce legal migration will mean approximately 300,000 people who arrived in the UK last year would no longer be able to.  It includes:   

  • increasing the salary threshold for Skilled Worker visas by 48% to £38,700
  • restricting care workers from bringing dependants with them and requiring care providers acting as sponsors in England to register with the industry regulator, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), to crack down on worker exploitation and abuse within the sector   
  • abolishing the shortage occupation list and replacing it with a new immigration salary list, with employers no longer able to pay migrants less than UK workers in shortage occupations   
  • raising the minimum income requirement for the family visa to reach the level of the Skilled Worker visa, currently £38,700 by early 2025 

Delivery of this comprehensive series of measures is part of the government’s wider plan to crack down on rising migration, both legal and illegal, and reform the immigration system. The plan is working, with small boats crossings down by around a third last year, and work continues to tackle this global challenge including by working with international partners and clamping down on the criminal gangs with stepped up enforcement.     

It comes as the government continues a programme of work to grow and support the domestic social care workforce. Led by the Department of Health and Social Care, this includes better training, clearer career paths and improved job prospects through a new accredited qualification.  The Department for Work and Pensions has also announced plans this week to see unemployed Brits filling roles once filled by foreign workers, to help build our domestic workforce and reduce reliance on cheap overseas labour.

Now that the Safety of Rwanda Act has passed and the treaty with Rwanda has been ratified, the government is entering the final phase of operationalising this landmark policy, with the first flight set to take off to Rwanda in early July.


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