How fed-up South Africans can immigrate to the UK under the points-based system

The new system allows both EU and non-EU nationals to apply for the relevant visas required to live and work in the UK. Picture: Reuters

The new system allows both EU and non-EU nationals to apply for the relevant visas required to live and work in the UK. Picture: Reuters

Published Sep 14, 2021


South Africans keen to immigrate to the UK will have to acquire at least 70 points in order to be eligible for a sponsored Skilled Worker visa.

Sable International consultant Nicola Digby told IOL Travel that the new points-based immigration system changed this year.

The new system allows both EU and non-EU nationals to apply for the relevant visas required to live and work in the UK.

"The points-based system treats EU and non-EU citizens equally. This means that EU citizens who want to move to the UK for work will need to seek permission, in the same way that non-EU citizens currently need to apply for a visa before working in the UK.

"EU citizens already living in the UK with pre-settled or settled status, as well as non-EU citizens with indefinite leave to remain (ILR), may live and work in the UK without the need to apply for further work permission. Irish citizens do not need to apply for a visa under the new Skilled Worker route, and automatically have the right to live and work in the UK," she explained.

Digby said South Africans will need to obtain employer sponsorship under the Skilled Worker category in order to work in the UK.

As a result, you would need to earn points on the basis of your qualifications, skills, and projected income.

It is also important to consider whether there is a shortage of skilled UK-based applicants.

To qualify for a visa for skilled workers, you must receive 70 points.

"Any business that wants to recruit workers from outside the UK through the Skilled Worker route will need to first become a licensed sponsor."

Under the new immigration system, Digby explained, a job must be skilled at or above RQF level 3 (A-Level qualifications) in order to qualify for a Skilled Worker visa.

"Many technical occupations which would not have been sufficiently skilled to qualify for the old Tier 2 (General) visa may now qualify under the Skilled Worker visa route," she said. See the list here.

A transfer via your company is also possible under the new system, which allows intra-company transfers (ICTs).

"For example, if you work for a multinational business with international offices, the ICT route allows you to be transferred to a UK office.

"You must have been employed for at least 12 months unless deemed a 'high earner' at the overseas sending company before being transferred to the UK. The previous employment criterion is reduced to three months if you are a graduate intra-company trainee.

"The UK role must be at NQF 6 level and meet the minimum salary threshold of £41,500 (or £23,000 if you’re a graduate intra-company trainee).

"The eligibility requirements are therefore at a higher threshold than those of the Skilled Worker route, although not having to prove English Language ability is a key differentiator. It is important to note that the Intra-company Transfer category still doesn’t lead to settlement, and this largely diminishes the attraction of this route to UK employers as a result," she added.

You can also use the Global Talent route if you're a senior academic or researcher or have a strong interest in the arts, culture, or digital technologies.

The Graduate Route allows international students who have completed a degree in the UK to remain in the country for two years after graduating. International students who complete a PhD will be allowed to remain for three years.

"If you are then offered skilled employment with a licensed sponsor who is willing to sponsor you, you may be able to switch to the Skilled Worker visa category, which can lead to Settlement after a period of 5 years," she said.

According to Digby, a UK employer who wants to hire you under the Skilled Worker visa route must hold a sponsor licence from the Home Office.

She said the licence must be in place before your Skilled Worker visa application can be made.

"It is recommended that employers seek professional advice regarding the complicated immigration laws attached to the process and the various duties that accompany maintaining a sponsor licence – such as record-keeping and reporting to the Home Office," she said.

Employers will need to take into consideration the Immigration Skills Levy, which is a yearly fee imposed on companies that sponsor migrant workers. This fee is to “contribute towards addressing the skills gap in the local economy," she added.

Related Topics:

employment equity