UK immigration update: MAC review of the Immigration Salary List

At a glance

  • In a previous post, we discussed the Government’s proposals to overhaul the salary thresholds for the Skilled Worker route. The proposals mean that the current Shortage Occupation List (SOL) would be drastically cut down and the 20% reduction on salary would be removed.
  • The revised list would be known as the Immigration Salary List (ISL).
  • The government commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to undertake a ‘rapid review’ of the proposed ISL. The MAC published this review on 23 February 2024.
  • The Government will consider the MAC review as a part of their statement of changes to the immigration rules expected later this week, on 14 March 2024. The changes will come into force from 4 April 2024.


In December 2024, the government proposed increasing the minimum salary threshold for sponsorship of non-healthcare migrant workers, from £26,200 to £38,700, unless the role is listed on the ISL. As a part of this proposal, the Home Secretary commissioned the MAC to undertake a review of the ISL and defined the parameters for this list.

On 23 February 2024, the MAC published their rapid review, recommending that only 21 occupations should be included on the ISL. The report states this would mean only 8% (down from 30%) of all roles listed as being eligible for the Skilled Worker route, will be included in this list. This is because the percentile measure to be used for such non-healthcare roles will now be the 50th (previously this was the 25th).

A full review of the ISL is expected later this year.

The Immigration Salary List

If included on the Immigration Salary List, such roles will benefit from up to a 20% reduction on the general salary threshold and a reduction on the visa application fee (discount of roughly £60 per year). The roles which are likely to be included in the ISL are:

Occupation Code Description ISL salary threshold Comment
1213 (old)

1212 (new)

Managers and proprietors in forestry, fishing and related services – add only “fishing boat masters” £30,960 Scotland only
2111 Chemical scientists – only jobs in the nuclear industry £35,200 Scotland only
2112 Biological scientists – all non-H&CW eligible jobs £37,100 UK-wide
2114 (old)

2115 (new)

Social and humanities scientists – only archaeologists £36,400 UK-wide
3111 Laboratory technicians – all non-H&CW eligible jobs (requires 3 years or more experience) £30,960 UK-wide
Laboratory technicians – all H&CW eligible jobs (requires 3 years or more experience) £23,200 UK-wide
3217 (old)

3212 (new)

Pharmaceutical technicians – all non-H&CW eligible jobs £30,960 UK-wide
Pharmaceutical technicians – all H&CW eligible jobs £23,400 UK-wide
3411 Artists – all jobs £32,800 UK-wide
3414 Dancers and choreographers – only skilled classical ballet dancers or skilled contemporary dancers who meet the standard required by internationally recognised UK ballet or contemporary dance companies. The company must be endorsed as being internationally recognised by a UK industry body such as the Arts Councils (of England, Scotland or Wales). £31,200 UK-wide
3415 Musicians – only skilled orchestral musicians who are leaders, principals, sub-principals or numbered string positions, and who meet the standard required by internationally recognised UK orchestras. The orchestra must be a full member of the Association of British Orchestras. £35,300 UK-wide
3416 Arts officers, producers and directors – all jobs £37,500 UK-wide
3421 (old)

2142 (new)

Graphic and multimedia designers – all jobs £30,960 UK-wide
5215 (old)

5213 (new)

Welding trades – only high integrity pipe welders, where the job requires 3 or more years related on-the-job experience. This experience must not have been gained through illegal working. £31,700 UK-wide
5236 (old)

5235 (new)

Boat and ship builders and repairers – all jobs £34,100 Scotland only
5312 Stonemasons and related trades – all jobs £32,400 UK-wide
5312 (old)

5313 (new)

Bricklayers – all job £30,960 UK-wide
5313 (old)

5314 (new)

Roofers, roof tilers and slaters – all jobs £30,960 UK-wide
5315 (old)

5316 (new)

Carpenters and joiners – all jobs £30,960 UK-wide
5319 Construction and building trades not elsewhere classified – add only “retrofitters” £30,960 UK-wide
6139 (old)

6129 (new)

Animal care services occupations not elsewhere classified – add only “racing grooms”, “stallion handlers”, “stud grooms”, “stud hands”, “stud handlers” and “work riders” £30,960 UK-wide
6145 (old)

6135 (new)

Care workers and home carers – private households or individuals (other than sole traders sponsoring someone to work for their business) cannot sponsor Skilled Worker applicants in non-H&CW eligible jobs* £30,960 UK-Wide
Care workers and home carers – private households or individuals (other than sole traders sponsoring someone to work for their business) cannot sponsor Skilled Worker applicants in H&CW eligible jobs* £23,200 UK-wide
6146 (old)

6136 (new)

Senior care workers – all non-H&CW eligible jobs* £30,960 UK-Wide
Senior care workers – all H&CW eligible jobs* £23,200 UK-wide


New entrant discount

The new entrant salary discount, available to migrant workers aged 26 or under, is expected to continue. This provides a 30% discount on the occupation-specific threshold and a 20% discount on the general salary threshold, the higher of which must be paid.

Impact on employers

The government’s proposals will have a significant impact on the ability of employers to hire non-healthcare migrant workers at salary levels below £38,700, with an added disadvantage of a reduced pool of roles which provide a salary discount. This means that certain sectors, such as hospitality, are likely to see a significant detrimental impact, owing to their salary scales, and talent shortages[1].

The new ISL will include an added level of complexity to the minimum salary thresholds, considering the differentiating minimum salary thresholds for private and public sector roles that fall within the education and healthcare categories. The MAC have raised concerns with the increasing divide between public and private sectors and low pay in the care sector, which increases the risk of exploitation.

The MAC itself notes that this rapid review, whilst as robust as possible, has not been carried out with engagement from businesses or other stakeholders. They expect the Home Office to commission a substantive review of the ISL which will allow for a renewed assessment of the current labour market with reference to the higher salary thresholds, where significant stakeholder engagement and evidence will be requested.

Whilst the increased thresholds are unlikely to impact businesses which typically pay above the proposed minimum rates, graduate level and more regionally based roles will need consider their recruitment plans. For such roles, the new entrant discount could, for a limited period of time, serve as a much-needed discount, and in some cases the only way to recruit migrant workers on the Skilled Worker route.

For roles which are likely to fall below the updated minimum salary threshold and where sponsorship can be offered, we would recommend submitting these applications prior to 4 April 2024. We also expect further detail on any transitional provisions (such as salary threshold Certificates of Sponsorship assigned prior to 4 April 2024 and visa applications submitted after this date) to be included in the statement of changes to the immigration rules expected on 14 March 2024.

If you have any queries in relation to topics raised within this article, or your UK immigration-related obligations generally, our immigration team would be pleased to discuss these with you.

[1] Office for National Statistics, ‘Dataset VACS02: Vacancies by industry’ (16 January 2024) accessed 11 March 2024.

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