Immigration Update: To the Point – February Edition

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The Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) came into effect for Gulf and Jordanian nationals – 22 February 2024

  • The UK’s ETA scheme has opened for Gulf Cooperation Council and Jordanian nationals travelling to the UK from 22 February 2024. The Gulf Cooperation Council comprises of Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Jordan. Those nationals could have applied for their ETA from 1 February 2024.
  • Providing they have the ETA, these nationals can now make unlimited visits to the UK over a two-year period or until their passport expires, whichever is soonest, for £10. Previously Gulf nationals paid £30 through the electronic visa waiver scheme and Jordanians paid £115 for a single-use visitor visa.

Immigration health surcharge (“IHS”) increase – 6 February 2024

  • The IHS is set to increase by 66% from 6 February 2024 from £624 to £1,035. This fee will also increase for children under the age of 18 who are students, student dependants, and those applying for entry clearance or leave to remain under the Youth Mobility Scheme. The increase will be from £470 to £776 per year.

The new civil penalty regime – 13 February 2024

  • The new civil penalty regime was announced and implemented. This meant that the current penalty regime tripled from the current policy. Fines for first offences increased from £15,000 to £45,000 per illegal worker. Fines for repeat offences increased from £20,000 up to £60,000. The other potential penalties like criminal prosecution and sponsor licence revocation will remain in place.

Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) report on Immigration Salary List – 23 February 2024

  • From April 2024, the Shortage Occupation List (“SOL”) is being replaced by the Immigration Salary List (“ISL”) and the old occupation specific discount rates (of up to 20%) will no longer apply.
  • The MAC has published a review of the ISL to determine which occupations would be on the non-pay scale occupations list. The salary thresholds are as follows:
Non-health & care worker occupations Health & care worker occupations (not on a pay scale) Pay scale occupations
General threshold (not on SOL/ISL) £38,700 £29,000 £23,200
General threshold (on SOL/ISL) £30,960 £23,200 £23,300
Occupation-specific threshold (the new name for the going-rate) 50th Percentile 25th Percentile National pay scales

– The “new entrant” discount available for those aged 26 and under will continue.