In light of Brexit and the quickly nearing end of the transitional period (31 December 2020), the UK has – has had to, embark on ambitious new immigration system. The government needs to stay true to its promise of “taking back control of the borders”, but at the same time ensure that the UK remains accessible for the foreign workforce, soon to include all EU citizens, that exists and will continue to be needed in the UK.

The new Immigration Rules take effect at 9am on 1 December 2020. The new system retains many of the previous visa categories, such as the Intra-Company Transfer Visa, ancestry visa and visitor visas, merely bringing EU citizens into these categories.

The biggest change, however, is made to the current Tier 2 (General) Visa, which will be replaced by a new, points based Skilled Worker Route. Further, more significant changes, such as an employer independent Highly Skilled Worker route and opportunities for graduates of UK universities to remain and work in the UK after completion of their studies are planned to take effect at later dates.

The following takes a closer look at the points-based Skilled worker route.

The mandatory points, i.e. mandatory requirements will be a job offer by an approved sponsor (the immigration skills charge remains applicable), the job must have a skill level equivalent to A-levels or above and the applicants must have sufficient English skills. It is important to note that the skill level relates to the job itself, and not to the applicant’s (formal) qualifications. The application must show that the applicant has the appropriate skills, qualifications and experience needed to do the job as described, however this is not linked to a strict requirement of showing a certain formal qualification.

A skilled worker will require an additional 20 “tradeable” points. The 20 points are scored when the general salary threshold of £25,600 (approximately R523 560) or the “going rate” for the job is met. However, a lower salary (though not dropping below £20,480) can be compensated by meeting other characteristics, as indicated above.

Notable features of the new Skilled Worker route are:

  • The reduction of the required salary threshold from £30,000 to £25,600 per year
  • The reduction of the required skill level from a bachelor’s degree (RQF Level 6) to A-levels (RQF level 3).
  • Abolishing the Resident Labour Market Test, giving employers the freedom to recruit candidates irrespective of their immigration status.

An important aspect for many South Africans considering to move to the UK, is that the Skilled Worker route provides a route to Settlement in the UK and is therefore an option for those seeking to settle in the UK on a permanent basis.

The new route is truly exciting news for South Africans interested in moving to the UK for work, as it makes immigration to the UK easier for the first time in many years.

IBN looks forward to advising and assisting with the immigration process. Please do not hesitate to contact us.

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By Hannah Mminele