UK issues 1.3 million visas for work, study, family or resettlement

A total of 1.32 million visas were issued in the year to March 2024 to people coming to the UK for work, study or family reasons, or through one of the Government’s settlement schemes, Home Office figures show.

The figure is down 10% from a record 1.46 million in the year to March 2023, which was the highest for any 12-month period since comparable data began in 2005.

Work visas accounted for the largest proportion of the latest total, at 605,264, or 46%, followed by study visas (562,403, or 43%) and family visas (79,384, or 6%).

Some 25,967 (2%) visas were granted to British National Overseas status holders from Hong Kong, 18,236 (1%) were issued under the Ukraine schemes and 15,719 (1%) were under the EU Settlement Scheme.

In addition, 4,597 (0.3%) were under other settlement schemes and 4,230 (0.3%) were for dependants joining or accompanying others.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

The figures also show there were a total of 216,421 visas issued in January to March 2024, down 13% on the previous quarter and down 26% on the equivalent three months in 2023.

There has been a change in the most common type of visa, with work visas accounting for nearly half (46%) of the total across the year to March, up from a third (33%) in the previous 12 months.

While the proportion accounted for by study visas is unchanged at 43%, there has been a sharp drop in visas issued under the Ukraine schemes, down from 13% of the total in the year to March 2023 to just 1% in the 12 months to March 2024.

Separate Home Office figures published on Wednesday showed the number of applications to come to the UK on a health and care skilled 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 April 2023 to 55,700 in the same period 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 fall in these applications coincides with the implementation of changes to Government policy on legal migration rules for family, study and work-related visas, which came into effect at various dates from January 2024.

Measures include a ban on overseas care workers and students bringing family dependants, and a sharp rise in the salary threshold for skilled workers to £38,700.

However, the number of applications for other kinds of skilled worker visas has increased year-on-year, with 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.