The United Kingdom has introduced stricter immigration rules set to take effect next year, affecting Ugandans seeking work or study opportunities in the country. The key change mandates that individuals outside the health and care sector must have a job with a minimum salary of £38,700, a significant increase from the previous threshold of £26,200, to be eligible for a work visa.
Under these new regulations, only students enrolled in postgraduate research programs will be allowed to travel with their families. Notably, workers in the health and care sector, which constitutes a substantial portion of the migrant labor force, will no longer be permitted to bring their families with them.
However, individuals following the health and care visa route will be exempted from the salary threshold increase for skilled worker visas. This exemption aims to facilitate the continued influx of healthcare workers, vital for the care sector and the National Health Service (NHS). Additionally, those on national pay scales, such as teachers, will also be exempted.
Earlier this year, the UK government implemented measures to reduce the issuance of student visas. These measures included eliminating the right for international students to bring dependents, except for those on postgraduate research courses, and restricting the ability for international students to switch to work routes before completing their studies.
An official at the Uganda High Commission in London expressed concerns about the impact of these new immigration rules on Ugandans residing in the UK. However, the total number of Ugandans studying and working in the UK could not be independently verified at the time of this report.
Sources at the High Commission in London mentioned that they had not yet received official communication about these changes. Emphasizing the sovereignty of a country’s right to control entry and exit, the official stated, “Immigration is a significant issue here; it was one of the factors behind Brexit. Any country governs entry and exit; it is their right to do so.”
In the background, these changes, announced on December 4, are applicable to all countries and aim to reduce immigration numbers, prioritize domestic labor, and manage resources effectively. In a related development in July, the UK had previously announced plans to increase visa fees for all individuals entering its territories.