UK: New Home Office Policy Seeks to Reduce Settlement Applications

The UK Government”s plan to reduce net migration by “tens of thousands” continues apace, with the salary threshold for non-EU migrants applying for settlement in the United Kingdom increasing to £35,000 per year.

The new minimum salary requirement will apply to workers seeking to remain in Britain on a permanent basis after working in the UK for more than five years.

This threshold will be the first time a financial metric has been imposed on the right to apply for settlement, with applications having previously been assessed on this basis of how long a migrant has been living in the UK. This method aimed to acknowledge workers who had built strong ties to Britain and had made it their permanent home, allowing them to stay.

However, under the new Home Office policy, failure to demonstrate earnings in excess of £35,000 per year will result in settlement being refused and deportation from the UK. The change which is due to take effect April 2016, is predicted to reduce the number of granted settlement applications from 60,000 to 20,000 per year.

Home Secretary Theresa May is facing strong criticism for the policy, amid fears it could deprive the UK of essential talent in key industries.  A petition launched last week urging the Government to rethink the “discriminatory” salary threshold is already close to 100,000 signatures, which could require it to be debated by MPs in Parliament.

What does this mean for UK Companies?

Essentially, UK companies who employ non-EU workers could risk losing them after five years if their salary falls below the £35,000 threshold.

A summary of the key points are as follows:

  • The salary threshold for settlement applications will be introduced on 6th April 2016.

  • The changes will be introduced for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) applications for migrants with Tier 2 visas, including the General, Minister of Religion and Sportsperson visa categories.

  • A Home Office spokesperson confirmed that exemptions will apply to “shortage occupations”.

  • Scientists and researchers in PhD level jobs will be exempt from the earnings test.

For further information on how this might affect your migrant employees, contact us at

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