An image of a tweet, shared 5,000 times on Facebook, claims that under the government’s new immigration rules anyone earning less than £25,600 is classed as an unskilled worker. It then lists various health professions for which the starting salary is under £25,600.
It isn’t correct to say that these professions are classed as unskilled. Newly qualified people in these roles, with the exception of care assistants, meet the immigration skills threshold. Care assistants do meet the threshold in certain circumstances. These claims stem from the government’s recent announcement that it would be introducing a “points-based” immigration system .
What is the new system?
Not all the details of the new immigration system have been confirmed.
However, what we know is that under the new system, all applicants must:
- be applying for a job “at appropriate skill level”,
- speak English,
- and have a job offer from an approved sponsor
In addition they must meet a salary level which varies depending on circumstances.
Their salary offer must be:
- Above £25,600, or
- Between £23,040 and £25,999 provided they also have a PhD in a subject relevant to the job or are applying for a job in a shortage occupation, or
- Between £20,480 and £23,039, provided they also have a PhD in a STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subject relevant to the job, or are applying for a job in a shortage occupation
In general, visa applicants must also have a salary offer at the “going rate”, which essentially means that they are paid competitively for the job they’re applying for. However, there will be exceptions to this requirement for some occupations that work on published pay scales, and also for new entrants.
What counts as skilled?
The tweet implies that as new starters to the NHS in various roles have salaries below the required minimum, and so the government considers nurses, paramedics, midwives, radiographers, care assistants, physiotherapists and occupational therapists “unskilled.”
It implies this by correctly listing the starting salary of £24,200 for all these roles, with the exception of care assistants who start on £17,600.
But jobs aren’t classed as skilled based on salary. The skills threshold is set at something called “regulation qualification” level 3 (RQF 3) or above.
All of these professions listed except care assistants are at RQF 6 and so meet the skills threshold.
Care assistants only meet the government’s immigration skills threshold if they have a certain level of seniority and/or experience.
Additionally, someone with a job offer to do any of the listed jobs apart from care assistants and physiotherapists would be immediately eligible to apply for a work visa under the new system because they are considered shortage occupations. This is provided they meet the other mandatory criteria of being able to speak English and have a salary offer of £20,480 or above.
All the starting salaries mentioned in the image are correct, for England in 2019/20.
Qualified nurses tend to start on a band 5, which is currently £24,214. Paramedics, midwives, radiographers, physiotherapists and occupational therapists also start at a band 5.
Care assistants tend to start on a band 2, which is £17,652.