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Post-Brexit immigration laws favour skilled workers heading to the UK

With Brexit fast approaching and the complex immigration laws set out by the UK, and now its new skills-based immigration system, it's a good idea to know exactly what the future holds for EU and non-EU South Africans wanting to live and work there.
Post-Brexit immigration laws favour skilled workers heading to the UK

In 2020, entry into the UK will be determined by skills and not nationality. The new immigration system means that a South African citizen moving to the UK needs to have a job offer for a skilled position in place from a UK company. The minimum salary requirement is still £30,000, although this amount is under consideration as it is much higher than the average salary for most sectors.

New rules from 2020 to apply to all EU and non-EU citizens

Currently, there are two separate applications for EU and non-EU citizens. EU citizens have no restrictions with regards to the type of work they do and their level of skill. But this is set to change when the application process is opened towards the third quarter of 2020 for implementation by January 2021.

According to Sable International immigration expert, John Dunn, “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."

Outlines of the new immigration system

  • 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;
  • No cap on the number of work visas issued annually.

ith a danger of post-Brexit labour shortages, particularly in social-care and construction, the UK government is looking into the prospect of creating a year-long visa. This short-term visa will allow workers with any skill level the opportunity to work in the UK for twelve months.

“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."

The conditions of this visa strongly discourage workers from a more permanent stay as they will have no access to benefits and will not be allowed to bring family members with them. The year-long visa cannot be switched to another visa, nor would it entitle the worker to settle in the UK permanently. According to Javid, “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.”

EU citizens who already live and work in the UK and who wish to stay want to stay have until June 2021 to register for a “settled status”.

Ultimately, both EU and non-EU citizens will need permission to enter the UK to work or study regardless of their nationality. According to the UK government, the policy “will ensure the UK remains a hub for international talent from the EU and the rest of the world”.

The government is proposing that there be no visa requirements for holiday or short-term visits, which makes a UK holiday for South Africans a little easier. However, the complexity of the post-Brexit system may mean that many South Africans will have to rethink their immigration plans and rather make use of the daily domestic flights to Cape Town from Johannesburg and other cities, to live and work local.


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8 Feb 2019 15:12