Good news for South Africans looking to live and work in the UK with ruling on skills vs nationality based immigration

2018-09-27 08:38 - JP Breytenbach
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South African passport. (PHOTO: iStock)

The looming of Brexit in the United Kingdom, and subsequent changes to the UK immigration rules, might bring welcome news for South Africans looking to live and work in the United Kingdom. 

This comes after recommendations from a UK governmental advisory committee that free movement for EU citizens should end after Brexit. They also proposed that the current Tier 2 work permit scheme be broadened to allow medium-skilled workers to work in the UK. 

This is of course very good news, as there will be more job opportunities in the UK, coupled with broader immigration routes allowing South Africans to take up more job opportunities. 

READ: DHA investigates cadet programme aimed at easing immigration queues at Cape Town Airport 

Migration Advisory Committee 

The UK Government has asked its Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to consider and assess the impact of Brexit on the UK immigration system in 2017.  The MAC has now reported back and made some important recommendations, which one could expect to be implemented in some form, as this is usually the process followed. 

If the UK Government does not offer concessions to EU workers as part of the Brexit deal, the MAC’s recommendations for work migration post-Brexit in 2021, will probably be implemented in some form. This is highly likely as the UK Cabinet unanimously supported an immigration system based on skills rather than nationality on 25 September 2018. 

EU workers will thus face the same immigration rules as non-EU workers. 

Recommendations from MAC include; 

- No free movement for EU workers, after Brexit. EU workers will be treated in the same way as non-EU workers currently are re immigration status. 
- Apart from the new Seasonal Agricultural Worker Scheme, there will be no new low-skilled worker schemes. 
- The current cap on the number of Tier 2 visas to be removed. 
- The Tier 2 Skilled worker scheme must be expanded to include medium-skilled jobs. 
- The minimum salary threshold of £30,000 to be retained for all Tier 2 jobs. 
- The Resident Labour Market Test for Tier 2 Skilled Workers to be abolished.  This is the requirement where a job must first be advertised to see whether it cannot be filled by a resident worker. 

Comments from Breytenbachs Immigration Consultants on UK Immigration developments: 

The Seasonal Agricultural Worker Scheme will possibly bring welcome opportunities for South Africans to work in the UK for up to six months. This scheme will come into effect in the British Spring of 2019. We would like to stress that there isn’t detailed information published as yet pertaining to this visa route, but what we know at this stage is exciting.

Breytenbachs also welcome the proposed expansion of the Tier 2 immigration route to include medium-skilled workers, as this will open up more immigration route possibilities for medium to higher skilled South Africans. 

The proposed ending of free movement of EU workers, will mean many more job opportunities in the UK for non- EU nationals. 

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