NewsUK Introduces New Skilled Worker Visa Criteria: Immigration Salary List Replaces Shortage...

UK Introduces New Skilled Worker Visa Criteria: Immigration Salary List Replaces Shortage Occupation List

The UK government recently announced several major changes to the country’s immigration system, including replacing the existing Shortage Occupation List (SOL) with a new Immigration Salary List (ISL) for Skilled Worker visas starting in April 2024.

Background on Changes

On December 4th, 2023, the Home Secretary outlined a 5-point plan to overhaul the UK’s immigration rules. The key changes include:

  • Replacing the Shortage Occupation List with a new Immigration Salary List
  • Removing the 20% salary discount that applied to shortage occupations
  • Raising the general salary threshold for Skilled Worker visas from £26,200 to £38,700
  • Increasing the minimum income requirement for family visas in stages up to £38,700
  • Limiting which international students can bring dependents

These changes aim to deliver the “largest-ever decrease in net migration” to the UK, according to the government.

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Replacement of Shortage Occupation List

One of the most impactful changes is abolishing the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) and replacing it with a new Immigration Salary List (ISL) in April 2024. The SOL provided relaxed salary rules for certain occupations with recognized staff shortages in the UK. It enabled sponsors to hire skilled workers in these shortage roles at salaries 20% below the “going rate.” The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) conducted a rapid review of which occupations should be on the new ISL.

They recommended including only 21 occupations, mainly in healthcare and construction, representing just 8% of eligible Skilled Worker jobs. With the ISL, there will no longer be discounted salary rates – all occupations will be subject to higher salary requirements. The MAC stressed that “no employer should be able to pay below the ‘going rate’ regardless of shortage.”

Salary Threshold Increase

Another key change is the increase in the general salary threshold for Skilled Worker visas from £26,200 to £38,700 annually, taking effect April 4th, 2024.

The “going rates” that set salary requirements for specific occupations will also increase from the 25th percentile to the 50th percentile salary, based on the latest Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) data.

These higher salary requirements aim to reduce use of the Skilled Worker route to fill lower-paid jobs. However, the MAC review recognized the rule changes could also impact new entrants and workers early in their careers.


Some key exemptions to the salary threshold changes include:

  • Health and Care Visa – The £38,700 threshold does not apply. Salary requirements remain at least £20,960 or the national pay scale.
  • Teachers – Salary thresholds remain based on national pay scales.
  • Existing visa holders – Those already on a Skilled Worker visa by April 2024 can extend, change employers, or apply for settlement without meeting the £38,700 threshold. Their pay is still expected to progress at market rates.

A “new entrant” salary discount will also continue to be available for those 26 and under. This provides a 30% discount on occupation-specific salary thresholds.

Impact on Sectors and Employers

These immigration changes could have considerable impacts on certain employers and sectors reliant on overseas talent to address skills shortages.

With the SOL abolished and fewer relaxed salary rules, hiring from abroad becomes more restrictive and costly. Sectors like social care, construction, and hospitality could struggle to recruit enough staff.

However, the MAC review highlighted that investing more in training, automation, local recruitment, and wage growth often provides a more sustainable solution to shortages than immigration alone.

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What Happens Next?

Full details of the new immigration rules will be published in mid-March 2024. The ISL and higher Skilled Worker salary thresholds take effect April 4th.

The MAC recommended the government review impacts of the rule changes on new entrants and the use of “new entrant” salary discounts for youth. Monitoring wider impacts on employers will also be important.

Further immigration crackdowns have not been ruled out. But the government emphasizes it continues to welcome skilled workers where there is clear benefit to the UK.


The UK’s post-Brexit immigration system continues to evolve, with the upcoming replacement of the Shortage Occupation List and increases to salary requirements for Skilled Worker visas.

These changes intend to restrict use of the Skilled Worker route for lower-paid roles and deliver an overall reduction in immigration levels.

However, the impact on employers struggling with skills shortages, and new entrants to the workforce, will require careful monitoring. As will the effectiveness of the policies in delivering their net migration goals.

Balancing the UK’s economic and skills requirements with broader immigration objectives remains an ongoing challenge amidst much debate and policy adjustment.

Also Read:

How to Work as a Bank Nurse in the UK with Tier 2 Visa Sponsorship: This article provides detailed information on how qualified nurses can work in the UK as bank nurses with tier 2 visa sponsorship. It covers eligibility criteria, the registration process, and the advantages of working flexibly as a bank nurse.

Everything you Need to Know About UK Working Visas for Nurses: While not directly from Nursing Abroad, this article offers valuable insights into UK working visas for nurses. It explains the Tier 2 (General) visa, sponsorship requirements, and the capped number of positions available under this scheme.

A guide for overseas nurses wanting to join a UK nursing agency: Although this guide focuses on joining a nursing agency in the UK, it provides relevant information for overseas nurses. It emphasizes the importance of completing at least six months of full-time permanent nursing work in the UK.

UK visa sponsorship for employers: Overview: While not specific to bank nurses, this official UK government resource outlines visa sponsorship requirements for employers. It covers various visa categories, including Tier 2 sponsorship, which is essential for bank nurse positions.

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