General Election 2024: An overview of the main parties’ pledges relating to business immigration

There is no doubt that voters will be scrutinising each parties' proposals relating to the headline topic of immigration ahead of the vote on 4 July 2024. We set out here a comparison of the main political parties' business immigration policies, in line with their manifestos and the current theme from the two main parties represents a continued restrictive approach to migration when compared to the Liberal Democrats.


The key theme from their manifesto on this area is "Immigration is too high". The Conservatives are therefore proposing the following:

  • Introducing an annual cap on work and family visas – the specific level would be recommended by the Migration Advisory Committee – and Parliament would vote on the level of the cap each year. This could be like the pre-Brexit system of having a monthly annual cap on the number of Skilled Worker visa applications that can be made from migrants based overseas.
  • An increase to all immigration application fees (by up to 25% as reported in the press) and the removal of the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) discount for international students to raise more money for public services.
  • Migrants would be required to undergo a health check before receiving an entry visa. As such, those more likely to use the NHS would either be charged a higher rate of IHS or would have to buy private health insurance.
  • To further tighten the rules on dependants but no further details are currently available.
  • The Skilled Worker salary threshold will raise with inflation automatically to make sure UK workers are not undercut.


The key theme from their manifesto on this area is to "reduce net migration" and Labour believe it is sensible not committing to any set figure. Labour is therefore proposing the following:

  • The Migration Advisory Committee would be asked to review the impact of the recent increase in the Skilled Worker salary threshold to £38,700 and the prohibition on care workers being accompanied by their dependants.
  • Reportedly considering reintroducing the 'resident labour market test' which would require employers to show that they have tried to recruit within the UK before hiring from overseas.
  • To retain the ban on care workers and students bringing their dependants with them to the UK.
  • An emphasis on training and upskilling UK-based workers and achieving this through linking bodies (the Migration Advisory Committee, the Industrial Strategy Council and Skills England) together to identify and respond to labour shortages in a joined-up way.
  • A tighter focus on enforcement for employers abusing the system so that employers who breach employment law, such as by paying below the national minimum wage, would be banned from hiring migrant workers. Currently, such situations are dealt with through suspension or revocation of the sponsorship licence.

Liberal Democrats

The key theme from their manifesto on this area is a "fairer, effective immigration system". The Liberal Democrats are therefore proposing the following:

  • An overhaul of the current immigration system which would mean replacing salary thresholds with a 'flexible merit-based system'.
  • The introduction of a reciprocal EU-wide youth mobility scheme for people 35 years old and under, extending the validity of these visas to three years and abolishing the application fees for this route.
  • Reversing the ban on care workers bringing their dependent family members to the UK.
  • Providing for NHS and care workers to be exempt from the Immigration Skills Charge.

Regardless of the outcome, businesses with sponsored workers or those looking to hire overseas workers for the first time will need to keep on top of the changes to business immigration law following the general election. We consider that the ongoing projects to transition everyone with a Biometric Residence Permit to an eVisa as well as launching more countries under the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) Scheme by the end of 2024, in additions to the pledges above, will likely be a struggle for whichever party takes control. We will be posting articles on the latest changes as they come into effect.

If you would like more information or have any questions once the changes occur, please do get in touch with Gemma Robinson.

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