Skip to main content

Drone attacks by Houthi rebels continue to take place in the Red Sea region and the Gulf of Aden: as a result, all major container shipping lines are rerouting their vessels around the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa.

These actions are resulting in increased transit times, which is in turn impacting costs. Diversions are currently adding up to 10 days to transit times. It is also important to note that after deliveries have been made, there are also the same logistical challenges in returning vessels and equipment back to origin locations. Shipping companies are attempting to recover the cost incurred by the delays through additional surcharges, which will increase the door-to-door transit costs.

Asia to Northern Europe and Mediterranean routes are those that are most affected, but as the troubles continue for a prolonged period of time, other regions will begin to suffer. Shipping lines will continue to reroute their vessels until the region is deemed safe again for crews, ships and cargo.

Please be aware that when bookings are made, shipping lines will still show transit times which are based on their vessels passing through the Red Sea. Typically, they will make the decision to reroute a vessel after its last European port of call. Therefore, notice of rerouting via the Cape of Good Hope and of the extra surcharges which may apply, will often not be communicated until a vessel is already in transit.

In addition, some shipping lines have advised that containers which were rerouted in late November and December 2023, will incur Emergency Contingency Surcharges – they will communicate these costs in due course.

Finally, as we get closer to Chinese New Year on 10th February 2024, when goods in and out of the region are at a premium in terms of traffic, space is going to become extremely tight. In order to secure passage, we strongly advise that bookings are made as soon as possible.

In summary, all options for shipping are being explored. However, where the route via the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden is unavoidable, there will be delays in getting goods to destination, together with increased costs and with little prior warning.

Serviced accommodation in Europe remains at a stable level, with good availability in most cities.

However, major sporting events scheduled to take place throughout the spring and summer months will reduce availability in the following locations:

  • Paris, France: 20th May – 9th June | French Open (tennis)
  • Various cities across Germany: 14th June – 14th July | Euro 2024 (football)
  • London, UK: 1st – 14th July | Wimbledon (tennis)
  • Various cities across France: 26th July – 26th August | Paris 2024 Olympics
  • Various cities across France: 26th August – 8th September | Paris 2024 Paralympics

A new five-point plan to reduce immigration has been announced by the UK government. It will come into full effect in Spring 2024.

The five points are as follows:

  • The minimum salary for foreign skilled workers will be raised from £26,200 to £38,700 (health and care sector workers will be exempt). This represents an increase of almost 50%.
  • The minimum income requirement for a Spousal or Family Visa will be raised from £18,600 to £38,700. This is to “ensure people only bring dependants whom they can support financially“.
  • Care workers will be banned from bringing dependants to the UK. Furthermore, care firms will be required to register with the Care Quality Commission in order to sponsor visas.
  • The Shortage Occupation List will be reformed. This reform will include ending the 20% going rate salary discount for shortage occupations. The jobs on the list will also be reviewed and reduced.
  • The rules on students bringing family members to the UK will be tightened. The Migration Advisory Committee will also conduct a full review of the graduate visa route “to prevent abuse and protect the integrity and quality of UK higher education“.

Considerable backlash against the plan has already led the Government to backtrack on the new salary levels for the Spousal and Family Visa point. They have now announced that a phased approach will be introduced: to begin with, the minimum salary required will be £29,000. The figure will then increase in .

Employers are therefore encouraged to review their programme and resource planning requirements over the coming few months, and consider how the above changes could affect the future hire of foreign nationals who require sponsorship. Employers could also consider bringing forward any plans so that they fall under current guidelines.

On another note, the increase in the Immigration Health Surcharge due to come into effect on 16th January 2024 has been postponed until 6th February 2024.

The Swedish Migration Agency has introduced a new model for handling work permits. The new model promotes the recruitment of highly qualified workers from outside of the EU. It also aims to reduce the processing time of all labour market cases.

Due to come into effect on 29th , the new model is designed to enable the Migration Agency to process work permit applications for highly qualified workers within 30 days. Currently, we are still waiting for the Migration Agency to disclose further information regarding which applicants will be eligible for prioritised processing. However, the occupations which will most likely be prioritised are:

  • Managerial occupations
  • Occupations with requirements for advanced university competence or higher education

Some key FAQs:

Can we continue using the Certified Sponsorship (fast-track) system?
No, the Certified Sponsorship system was discontinued on 1st June 2023. (Further information on this can be found below.)

What will the new processing times be?
For highly qualified workers, we expect applications to be concluded within 30 days. For other worker categories, applications should be concluded within 4 months, unless the Migration Agency deems the application to require additional assessment or additional information and documentation.

How will we predict the processing time of future applications?
Your K2 Immigration Consultant will be able to assess the estimated processing time and requirements for future applications once the new model has been implemented fully.

Are there any changes to the maintenance requirement?
Any employee who is applying for a Swedish work permit must now be offered a salary which is at least 80% of the average market-level salary of a similar position in Sweden.