The UK government has been tinkering on keeping immigration within certain figures.
As a result, they have decided to strengthen immigration laws in several sectors. The government has estimated that their planned changes will cut the net migration figure of 745,000 by 300,000. This has made it harder for people who are moving to the UK from Malaysia.
This article explores each of these changes and helps you understand the new conditions that you need to meet to get a UK visa from Malaysia.
What Are the New Rules?
The UK government has passed six primary changes. As a Malaysian migrant, you won't be impacted by all of them, so it is important to understand which changes will impact your case. The six new rules and how they will impact Malaysians are examined in the sections below:
Health and Social Care Visa
The UK government has made it harder for health and social care workers to bring dependents on their visas. Family members will now have to apply for visas separately. This may make it substantially harder for your family to come with you to the UK if you are coming on this visa. You may have to come to the UK alone or consider social care work in a country where you can bring your family with you. There is no set date for this change. However, the government has stated an intention to bring the change in "as soon as possible in the new year."
Skilled Worker Visa
It will also now be harder for Malaysians to access a Skilled Worker visa. The visa is the primary route for skilled Malaysians to come to the UK to work in high-value roles. This is because the baseline salary will rise from £26,200 to £38,700. Such an increase will substantially reduce the roles that are eligible for this visa.
This increase has not yet been brought in. However, a deadline for the change to come in has been set as April 2024.
Shortage Occupation List
The shortage occupation list defines the roles the UK labour market struggles to fill domestically. It helps Malaysians and others to come to the UK as they may not need to meet the baseline salary to get a visa. However, this route is not being tightened up as many roles are now being taken off the shortage occupation list. This reduction is another step that will reduce the number of people who are able to access a Skilled Worker visa.
No deadline has been set for this change to be brought in. However, the government has announced that we can expect this change "no earlier than April 2024."
The Spouse/Partner visa allows foreign nationals to join their British citizen spouse in the UK. It has a minimum income requirement for the British spouse of £18,600. This is designed to ensure that the foreign spouse will not require state assistance to survive in the UK.
However, this threshold is now rising, which will reduce the number of British citizens who can bring a foreign spouse into the country. It will rise incrementally to £29,000, then £34,500, and finally £38,700. If your British spouse does not earn this much money, you might have to find an alternative legal route to come to the UK.
This change will happen very gradually. The first increase is planned for "spring 2024." There is no set time for the change to £34,500. However, the change to £38,700 has been planned for "early 2025."
New immigration rules for students were brought in in July 2023 and January 2024, which Malaysians must ensure they are following over the coming years. The main change is that international students can no longer bring dependents with them to the UK. The only exception that applies is if they have enrolled in a PhD or postgraduate research program. This is the change expected to have the greatest impact on net migration figures, expected to reduce the number by 140,000.
Further changes include the fact that if you wish to switch from a Student visa to a Work visa, the start date of the employment must be after the completion of your course. Furthermore, PhD students need to have studied in their program for at least 24 months before they switch to a Work visa.
Graduate visa changes that will impact people moving from Malaysia to the UK are currently unclear. The Graduate visa is a two-year work permit that can be obtained by graduates of British universities.
A review by the Migration Advisory Committee has been planned. It is yet unclear what they will advise, but this is a sign that the Graduate visa is another visa that the government is planning on making stricter.
These changes are set to come in via "statements of changes" laid before Parliament rather than individual bills that Parliament must pass in a time-consuming process. This could cause problems for applicants as these statements can cause immediate changes to immigration rules, although the current convention is for changes to be brought in 21 days after the statement is made.
The high pace of changes to immigration rules could be highly confusing for everyone who wants to migrate to the UK, as they could alter your chances significantly. Working with an immigration lawyer is a great choice under these circumstances. These professionals can help you update your application to the latest requirements and guide you towards alternative visas if the new rules make you ineligible for your planned visa.