Big changes on the cards for South Africans looking to move to the UK

The UK has revealed its new skills-based immigration system for EU and non-EU nationals.

According to Sable International immigration expert, John Dunn, the new immigration system means that entry into the UK with a work visa will be based on skills and qualifications – rather than nationality.

“At present, there is a dual immigration system for EU and non-EU nationals who want to move to the UK to work,” he said

“A citizen from outside the EU must have a job offer for a skilled position from a UK-based company before they can apply to move to the country.

“EU citizens can apply for any job at any skill level and live and work in the UK unrestricted. This will all change once the UK leaves the EU and the new immigration laws are implemented.”

New system

According to Dunn, the new immigration rules will come into force in autumn 2020.

“There will no longer be a separate application system for EU and non-EU nationals,” he said.

“All nationalities will have to apply under the same skilled worker’s route and all applicants will have to have sponsorship from a UK employer before applying.

“Workers will still need to earn a minimum salary of £30,000 per annum to be eligible for this visa.”

According to Dunn, other notable changes to the worker’s route include:

  • The skills threshold has been lowered to intermediate level skills at RQF 3-5 level (A level or equivalent);
  • The Resident Labour Market Test for the Tier 2 (General) visa has been scrapped;
  • The cap on the number of work visas issued annually has been removed.

Short-term scheme coming?

Dunn said that the UK government has also proposed a new visa type that will allow workers of any skill level to work in the UK for a period of 12 months.

The new scheme was proposed specifically for sectors such as construction and social care, as these are most in danger of labour shortages post-Brexit, he said.

“UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid has stressed that this route will only be open to nationals from specific countries.

“These are low-risk countries with which the UK negotiates migration commitments and mobility proposals.

“What’s more, workers on this scheme will not have access to any benefits, will not be allowed to bring family members with them, cannot apply to switch to another visa or settle in the UK permanently.

“Once this visa has expired, workers will be subject to a cooling off period which prohibits them from returning to the UK for 12 months,” he said.


Read: South Africa’s big expat tax is coming

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Big changes on the cards for South Africans looking to move to the UK