Tighter VISA Restrictions: What this means for UK jobs

With the Government recently unveiling plans to implement tougher visa rules to by increasing the minimum salary needed for skilled overseas workers from £26,200 to £38,700 – what does this mean for the UK jobs market?

Tighter UK VISA Restrictions

The Government have recently unveiled a plan to implement tougher visa rules to by increasing the minimum salary needed for skilled overseas workers from £26,200 to £38,700. The minimum income for Family visas will also rise to £38,700.

It is predicted that approximately 300,000 people who were eligible to come to the UK last year would not be able to in future, unless they see an increase in salary.

The jump of £12,500 is a 45.48% increase.

Restrictions against Skilled Workers
and International Students

What is classed as a ‘Skilled Worker’?

Currently, the government defines skilled workers as those doing jobs that require A-levels, Scottish Highers or technical equivalents. The Skilled Worker visa replaced the Tier 2 (General) work visa.

The Skilled Worker route is for employers to recruit people to work in the UK, including in UK waters, in a specific job. A Skilled Worker must have a job offer in an eligible skilled occupation from a Home Office-approved sponsor.

This comes as tighter restrictions on Student visas also come into effect. International students starting courses in 2024 can no longer be able to bring family members on all but postgraduate research courses and courses with government-funded scholarships. These changes have also seen people banned from using the student visa as a route to work in the UK. It’s estimated that these changes will see 140,000 fewer people come to the UK.

What's happening to UK Jobs

But what do these measures mean for UK businesses and the economy?

Chetal Patel, Head of Immigration at Bates Wells, commented “This latest announcement will come as a blow for many organisations, SMEs in particular, which were already struggling to recruit foreign labour.”

She said many organisations were struggling to fill roles, and local talent was not providing enough to plug gaps left by European workers following Brexit, adding that businesses were struggling to upskill local labour. “This is a significant hike in minimum skilled worker salary requirements, and many will undoubtedly be priced out of the market – they simply won’t be able to sponsor workers in critical roles,” Patel continued.

Neil Carberry, chief executive of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation, said the announcements were “wholly disproportionate, given that immigration for work in the private sector is such a small part of total immigration”.

“It is time for politicians to be more open about these trade-offs. Given the recent trend in wages, some uprating of the salary threshold would have been sensible – but such a large rise is likely to negatively affect smaller firms and those in regions farther from London,” he said.

“While many roles we have shortages in are driven by labour availability, the UK also has significant skills shortages. This news also underpins again the government’s serial failure to address the skills system despite half a decade of business feedback about the failed apprenticeship levy and the underfunding of further education.”

What's Happening to Unemployment?

Job vacancies decreased during the final quarter of 2023, but still remain above pre-pandemic levels.

The Office for National Statistics reported a 4.2% UK unemployment rate at the end of 2023. However, economic inactivity rates were reported to be 20.9% – this includes people who are not in employment, but do not meet the internationally accepted definition of unemployment due to the fact that they have not been seeking work within the last four weeks, or are unable to start work in the next two weeks.

In order to bridge skill gaps within the UK, significant upskilling is needed. Back in 2022, The World Economic Forum already reported that the workforce needed significant reskilling and upskilling by 2025, yet the UK was significantly falling behind the rest of the world in reskilling its national workforce.

Skills Shortages facing the UK:

Skills shortages the UK currently faces includes:


  • Civil engineers
  • Mechanical engineers
  • Electrical engineers
  • Electronics engineers
  • Design and development engineers
  • Production and process engineers
  • Engineering professionals not elsewhere classified


Digital based skills shortage:

  • IT business analysts, architects, and systems designers
  • Programmers and software development professionals
  • Web design and development professionals
  • Cybersecurity specialists


Health and Social Care:

There are approximately 3.18 Doctors for every 1,000 people in the UK according to the British Medical Association, meanwhile countries such as Austria, Norway, Spain, and Germany have between 4.53 and 5.45 doctors per every 1,000 people.


Other occupations:

Check the fill list here, for the latest up-to-date skilled worker shortages in the UK.