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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Rachael Burford

UK visa applications from foreign health and care workers drop 76% as new Home Office changes take hold

There has been a 76 per cent fall in the number of foreign health and care workers applying for UK work visas, new figures revealed on Wednesday.

The number of applications for the route dropped by more than three-quarters in the first four months of this year compared with the equivalent period in 2023.

Some 12,400 requests were made from January to April 2024 compared to 50,900 over the same months the year before, according to provisional government data.

But the figures also indicate that the number of skilled worker visa applications has risen by 50 per cent in the first four months of the year, prompting Labour to accuse the Government of having "no grip on immigration".

It comes after the Home Office enforced strict new rules on overseas care workers this year in a bid to bring down legal migration to Britain.

Foreign carers were banned from bringing their loved ones to the UK from March 11 in a measure that the Government said would bring down legal migration.

Wage thresholds also increased to £29,000, from £18,600, in April. 

The policy has been slammed by opposition politicians, including London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who said it will place an “already-stretched” NHS and social care system under even more pressure.

The Home Secretary has insisted the Government's plan to cut legal migration levels is "working".

James Cleverly hailed the latest provisional Home Office data which suggested the number of overseas student and foreign care worker visa applications continues to fall.

Mr Cleverly said: "The plan to deliver the largest-ever cut to legal migration in our country's history is working.

"This monthly data is the most up-to-date picture of visa levels, showing that on current trajectories legal migration continues to fall across key routes."

The measures will be kept "under close review" and "if needed, we will not hesitate to go further," he added.

Shadow immigration minister Stephen Kinnock described the Government as "scrambling around, desperately trying to clean up the mess they made".

The number of other skilled worker visa applications rose year-on-year, with 29,200 main applicants in the first four months of 2024, up 41 per cent from 20,700 in the same period in 2023, plus 26,300 dependants, up 62 per cent from 16,200.

There were 43,600 main applicants for a sponsored student study visa in January to April 2024, down 12 per cent from 49,400 in the equivalent period in 2023.

Dependants included in these applications fell 79 per cent 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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