We have recently seen the Labour Party, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats publish their manifestos ahead of the election on 4 July 2024. Within the manifestos, each party made several promises in respect of UK immigration. We have therefore reviewed and summarised each of the party's key immigration proposals, with commentary as to how they might impact UK immigration law and businesses in practice.

Labour Party manifesto

  1. Reduction of net migration

The Labour Party propose to reform the UK points-based immigration system. This will include having appropriate restrictions on visas and more effective management of the system. The party state that they will exclude employers from hiring employees from abroad if the visa system is not properly followed and/or is abused. 

  1. Addressing skills shortages and improving working conditions in the UK

In regards to upskilling workers and improving working conditions, the party plan to strengthen the Migration Advisory Committee and establish a framework for joint working with skills bodies across the Industrial Strategy Council, the Department for Work and Pensions and the rest of the UK.

The party intend that these changes will end the UK's reliance on workers from abroad by bringing in training plans for the health and social care, and construction sectors.

  1. Support for veterans

Finally, the party pledge to remove any visa fees for non-UK veterans (and their dependants) who have served for four or more years.

Conservative Party manifesto

  1. Legal cap on migration

The Conservative Party has pledged that they will introduce a binding, legal cap on migration, which will be set on work and family visas. It is intended that this cap will protect the public services in the UK, whilst bringing in the skills that the NHS and businesses require.

The cap will be set in a way that considers all benefit and cost implications of migration and Parliament will be given an annual vote as to the level of the cap. In turn, the party hope this change will instil public confidence that immigration levels are being effectively managed.

  1. Health checks for applicants ahead of travel to the UK

The party also pledge that visa applicants entering the UK will be required to undertake a health check prior to travelling to the UK. This will enable an assessment to be carried out as to what burden (if any) an individual is likely to put on the NHS, with the potential to increase the individual's Health Surcharge.

  1. Increase of visa fees and removal of student discount

The party also pledge to increase visa fees whilst also removing student discount to the Immigration Health Surcharge.

  1. Skilled worker visa and family visa

Finally, the party list changes they have already made in respect of immigration. This includes:

  • Increasing the general salary threshold for Skilled Worker visas to £38,700 (a 48% uplift)
  • Replacing the shortage occupation list with a new immigration salary list
  • Restricting most international students and all care workers / senior care workers from bringing dependants to the UK
  • Increasing the minimum income for family visas to £29,000 (which will increase to £38,700 by the start of next year).

Going forward, the party pledge to automatically raise the family income requirement and Skilled Worker threshold with inflation to ensure UK workers are not "undercut".

Liberal Democrat manifesto

  1. Merit-based system

The Liberal Democrats have pledged to remove the current salary threshold system for work visas and replace it with a more adaptable and flexible merit-based model. This will allow government departments to work with employers in each sector to tackle skills shortages and specific needs of businesses.

It will also be part of a proposed long-term workforce strategy which will provide correct education and training to remove the gaps in skills within the UK.

  1. Youth mobility scheme

The party pledge to expand the Youth Mobility Scheme. This will include having EU negotiations to extend it on a reciprocal basis, increasing the age limit to 35 years old (from 30), extending the visa length to three years and abolishing the fees under this route.

  1. Settled status

The Liberal Democrats have promised that they will automatically grant full Settled Status to all EU citizens (and their families) who currently have Pre-Settled Status. They will also provide those individuals with physical proof of their right to stay in the UK.

  1. Family visas

The party intend to remove the increase to income thresholds for family visas (put in place by the Conservatives) to prevent families from being separated.

  1. NHS and care workers

The party also pledge to make NHS and care staff exempt from the yearly Immigration Skills Charge whilst also reversing the current ban on care workers being able to bring dependants to the UK i.e. their partners and children.


For employers who recruit from overseas and/or hold a sponsor licence, it is crucial that you remain up-to-date and compliant with immigration law and government guidance in this area. We are seeing a significant increase in enforcement action by the Home Office and, depending on which party is voted into power on 4 July, we are likely to see further changes to the immigration rules. A failure to comply can amount to serious consequences, such as having your licence suspended or revoked.

Should you require any support or if you would like to discuss these proposals further, or how they may impact your organisation, we have a dedicated team of specialist immigration lawyers who can help, so please get in touch.


A special thank you to Kelsey Lyall who helped put this article together.

This article is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice.