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Japa: UK Home Secretary says strategy to reduce legal migration is working

UK ,work permits

The United Kingdom Home Secretary, James Cleverly, has maintained  that the government’s strategy to reduce legal migration is “working,” even though data show an increase in the number of applications for work permits.

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Cleverly stated this after applauding the most recent provisional figures from the Home Office, indicating that fewer applications for student and foreign care worker visas are being submitted.

However, the data up to April 2024 also show that, in comparison to the same period in 2023, the number of applications for skilled worker visas increased by 50% in the first four months of this year.

This led Labour to state that the government has “no grip on immigration” as figures to April 2024 also indicated that the number of skilled worker visa applications had risen by 50% in the first four months of the year compared with the same period in 2023.

The UK Government has gradually introduced restrictions since the start of the year amid pressure to cut the record high number of people legally arriving in Britain.

Measures including a ban on overseas care workers bringing family dependants and a drastically hiked salary threshold for skilled workers to £38,700 aims to slash the number of people arriving in Britain by 300,000 a year.

The government has gradually introduced a raft of restrictions since the start of the year amid pressure to cut the record high number of people legally arriving in Britain.

Measure to reduce migration
The number of individuals coming to Britain each year is expected to be reduced by 300,000 due to measures like prohibiting foreign care workers from bringing family members with them and raising the pay threshold for skilled workers to £38,700.

Reforms in the meantime prevented international students from bringing their families to the UK and made it more difficult for British citizens with incomes below the national average to bring in foreign spouses.

According to the Home Office data published on Wednesday, the number of skilled worker visa applications rose year-on-year. There were 29,200 main applicants in the first four months of 2024, up 41% from 20,700 in the same period in 2023, plus 26,300 dependants, up 62% from 16,200.

The figures for main applicants and dependants combined, compared with the figure for January to April last year (36,900 and 55,500 respectively), indicated a 50% rise.

The change in rules could indicate a last-minute surge in applications. In April alone. The Home Office figures suggest the department received applications from 10,100 main applicants and 6,500 for dependants in this visa route.

The figures also suggest the number of applications to come to the UK on a health and care worker visa fell by more than three-quarters in the first four months of this year compared with the equivalent period in 2023.

Some 12,400 main applications were made from January to April 2024, down 76% from 50,900 in January to April the previous year. The number of dependants included in these applications fell 6% from 59,300 in January to 55,700 in the same period of April this year.

There were 43,600 main applicants for a sponsored study visa in January to April 2024, down 12% from 49,400 in the equivalent period in 2023. Dependants included in these applications fell 79% from 38,900 to 8,300.

The Home Office said it will be “necessary to await the peak in student applications for the next academic year,” which usually comes in August and September, before it will be possible to see the “full effect of recent policy changes and any other impacts.”

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