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‘Taking radical action...': Rishi Sunak toughens UK visa rules to slash immigration

The UK government proposed a tougher set of visa rules to lower the country’s immigration numbers. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the "radical action" would ensure that migration only benefits the country.

Taking radical action Rishi Sunak toughens UK visa rules to slash immigration gcw
First Published Dec 5, 2023, 8:57 AM IST

The United Kingdom government announced "radical action" to reduce immigration today, including raising the minimum wage that skilled foreign workers must earn in order to obtain a visa to work in the UK. The decision comes after official numbers revealed that net migration to the UK reached a record high of 7,45,000 in 2022, putting more pressure on Britain Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who has pledged to curb new arrivals.

"Immigration is too high. Today we're taking radical action to bring it down. These steps will make sure that immigration always benefits the UK," Rishi Sunak posted on X, formerly Twitter.

The restrictions include prohibiting international students from bringing family members to the UK unless they are pursuing postgraduate research degrees, as well as raising the pay threshold for foreign workers to 38,000 pounds.

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Interior minister James Cleverly said that from early next year, skilled overseas workers will have to earn 38,700 pounds, up from the current level of 26,200 pounds (Rs 27,58,718.52).

"Our new immigration plan will mean we decisively cut net migration and create a system that works for the British people," the Home Office said in a statement.

Immigration - long a vexed political issue in Britain - is set to be a key issue in a general election expected next year, which the main opposition Labour Party is currently a favourite to win. Legal migration has soared since Britain formally left the European Union in January 2020. In 2021, net migration was 488,000.

This visa crackdown follows record-high immigration figures released by the Office for National Statistics, indicating a net migration of 672,000 to the UK. India dominates the skilled worker, medical professional, and student categories, with notable increases in Health and Care visa applications and sponsored study visa grants. Cleverly's measures aim to address these trends and ensure a more controlled immigration system.

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