Author: Charles Hymas
Foreign worker visas are set to double in the next five years as people are recruited to take “skilled” jobs in occupations with shortages, such as social care, internal Home Office estimates show.
The number of “in-country” visas granted to foreign skilled workers is expected to rise from 204,000 in 2023/24 to 584,000 in 2028/29, according to the Home Office projections.
That is on top of a further 200,000 skilled workers visas granted to applicants coming into the UK in 2028/29, a similar number to the 205,000 in 2023/24. That would mean an overall annual increase in foreign skilled workers from 409,000 to 784,000.
The disclosure will intensify calls from Conservative backbenchers for measures to reduce net migration, which hit a record 606,000 last year, more than double the rate before Brexit.
Action from ministers
Home Office ministers Suella Braverman and Robert Jenrick are pushing for curbs including increasing the salary threshold for foreign skilled workers from the current rate of £26,200 to around £34,500.
This would bar migrants from lower paid jobs and force employers to invest in training UK staff.
They are also considering reducing the number of foreign care workers, currently standing at 120,000 a year, and further restrictions on migrants bringing their families to the UK.
Miriam Cates, the Tory MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge, said: “Our manifesto committed to reducing net migration, so it is very concerning Home Office officials expect the exact opposite over the next few years, with loopholes in our visa system allowing those who have come to the UK for one reason to stay here for another.
“Unless we close these loopholes, the UK will not escape the chronic low productivity rates that result from our dependence on workers from abroad.