Controversial new laws which could be introduced in the UK as early as April 2016 may lead to thousands of South African expats being booted out of the country.
The laws, if implemented, would introduce a “settlement threshold” on salaries, forcing all non-EU resident who’ve been living in the UK for over five years, to prove they earn at least £35,000 (R822,000) a year or face deportation.
The UK Home Office and Home Secretary Theresa May are facing criticism for the proposed laws, which have been called “discriminatory” and illogical in light of the fact that the average salary in the UK is only £26,000 (R610,000).
A petition with close to 80,000 signatures has been set up at the UK parliament, calling for the government to reconsider its position.
“This ridiculous measure is only going to affect 40,000 people who have already been living and working in the UK for 5 years, contributing to our culture and economy. It will drive more workers from the NHS and people from their families,” protesters say.
“This empty gesture will barely affect the immigration statistics. It’s a waste of time, money and lives.”
According to the UK’s Independent, it is the first time that a British nation has imposed economic requirements on the right to settle.
Previously, this right has been afforded to people with family ties to the UK, or after a certain time period living in the country.
Tens of thousands of South Africans could be impacted by these new rules. In 2013, there were over 211,000 South Africans living in the UK, with local emigration statistics pointing to even more leaving South Africa for the region, since.
(Currencies exchanged at £1 = R23.50)