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How to migrate from South Africa to the UK in 2021?

Posted on December 28, 2020
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Migrate from South Africa to UK

For individuals wishing to move from South Africa to the UK, the introduction of the points-based system which will come into effect from January 2021.

 The points-based immigration system will be equally applicable to both EU and non-EU citizens. Those planning to move from South Africa to the UK in 2021 should know about the new immigration system.

Points-based system

The main features of the points-based migration are:

  • Highly skilled workers, skilled workers and students wanting to come to the UK must follow the points-based system
  • A job offer is mandatory for skilled workers
  • Salary threshold will now be 26,000 pounds per year, reduced from 30,000 pounds required earlier
  • Applicants must prove that they can speak English (A-level or equivalent)
  • Highly skilled workers will need to be endorsed by a UK body; however, they do not need a job offer
  • Students will also come under the points- based system to study in the UK and must show proof of an admission letter from an educational institute, English proficiency and funds.
  • 70 points is the minimum score required to be eligible for a visa

Scoring the 70 points required for visa eligibility

A job offer in the UK and the ability to speak English will get the applicant 50 points. The additional 20 points required to qualify for the visa can be gained through any of the following qualifications:

  • Having a job offer that pays you 26,000 pounds or above per year will give you 20 points
  • 10 points for a relevant PhD or 20 points for a PhD in a STEM subject
  • 20 points for an offer for a job where there is a skill shortage
Category       Maximum points
Job offer 20 points
Job at appropriate skill level 20 points
English speaking skills 10 points
Salary of 26,000 and above or relevant PhD in a STEM subject 10 + 10 = 20 points
Total 70 points

Visa options for moving to the UK for work

Skilled professionals from South Africa can come to the UK under the Tier 2 visa program. If their occupation is listed in the Tier 2 shortage occupation list, they can come to the UK on a long-term basis. Popular professions in the occupation list belong to the IT, finance, engineering fields.

There are two main routes available to overseas job seekers wishing to work in the UK:

  1. Tier 2 (General) for highly skilled workers.
  2. Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) for highly skilled workers from multinational companies who are being transferred to the UK branch.

From January 1 2021, the Tier 2 (General) visa will be replaced with the Skilled worker visa.

The Skilled Worker visa will cover more people-The UK Skilled Worker visa was introduced to bring in highly skilled overseas workers into the UK labor market and subsequently take up permanent residence in the UK.

With this visa, skilled workers from other countries can be selected based on the shortage occupation list and they will be eligible to get an offer letter without the labor market test and stay in the UK for up to 5 years.

The skill level threshold will be lower-At present job roles that require a Degree or Master’s qualification are eligible for sponsorship (RQF level 6 roles) but with the Skilled Worker visa, sponsorship will be available to even lower-skilled workers (RQF level 3).

Baseline minimum salary requirement will be lower-Since the skill threshold has been lowered, the baseline salary requirements will be reduced. The employer will have to pay a minimum salary of 25,600 pounds or the ‘going rate’ for the position, whichever is higher.

Flexibility to acquire the required points-The Skilled Worker visa is based on a points system; so, you can use the various points criteria to your advantage to get the required number of points to apply for this visa. You need 70 points to qualify for this visa.

Eligibility requirements for the Skilled Worker visa

  • You must have a score of 70 points to qualify in the defined parameters like specific skills, qualifications, salaries and professions.
  • You need to have a Minimum Bachelor’s degree or equivalent with 2 years of skilled work experience from the eligible occupations list
  • You must have a job offer from an employer who is a Home Office licensed sponsor
  • You must meet the English Language requirement at B1 level in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages
  • You should also meet the general salary threshold of £25,600, or the specific salary requirement for the occupation or the ‘going rate’.

Benefits of the Skilled worker visa

  • Visa holders can bring dependents on the visa
  • Spouse is allowed to work on the visa
  • No cap on the number of people who can move to the UK on the visa
  • Minimum salary requirement has been reduced to £25600 from threshold of £30000
  • Fast Track Visas will be provided for healthcare professionals like doctors and nurses
  • No requirement for the Resident Labor Market Test for employers

Visa options for moving to the UK to study 

Visa options for moving to the UK to set up a business

The Tier 1 visa offers two categories for setting up a business in the UK:

Tier 1 Innovator Visa

Tier 1 Startup Visa

Tier 1 Innovator Visa-This visa category is open to experienced businesspersons and intends to encourage them to set up innovative businesses in the UK. The investor must make a minimum investment of 50,000 pounds and the business must be endorsed by an endorsing body.

You will be eligible for this visa if you:

  • Are not a citizen of the EEA and Switzerland
  • Wish to set up a business in the UK
  • Have an innovative and scalable business idea

Features of the innovator visa

  • You can stay for up to three years if you enter the country on the Innovator Visa or are already staying there on another valid visa
  • The visa can be extended for another three years and you can continue extending it several times
  • After five years of staying on this visa, you are eligible to stay indefinitely in the country

Tier 1 Startup Visa

 This visa category exclusively caters to entrepreneurs with high potential who are starting a business for the first time.

The application for this visa can be submitted three months before your intended date of travel to the UK. Other eligibility requirements include:

  • You are not a citizen of the EEA and Switzerland
  • You wish to set up a business in the UK
  • Business idea must be endorsed by a higher education institute in the UK or a business organization that supports UK entrepreneurs
  • No requirement for an initial investment
  • Applicant must be at least 18 years old
  • Applicant must fulfil English language requirements
  • Applicants must have enough funds to support their stay in the UK

Features of the Startup visa

  • You can stay for up to two years on this visa and can bring your spouse or partner and unmarried children under the age of 18 to stay with you
  • You can do work outside your business for funding your stay
  • You cannot extend your visa after two years, but you can apply for the innovator visa to extend your stay and develop your business.

Visa options to move to the UK for higher studies

You can move to the UK on a Tier 4 visa in case they are opting for a full study program. However, if you opt for English language courses or other training courses, you are eligible to apply for a short-term study visa.

Post study options for international students
International students in the UK on a valid Tier 4 visa are permitted to stay in the UK after their course if they have a job offer with the required annual salary
They can switch from a Tier 4 Visa to a Tier 2 General Visa with a validity of five years to stay in the UK
  • The post-study work experience of students will help them qualify for permanent residence in the UK

Visa for South Africans with British ancestry

Some South African citizens may have a British grandparent, they can apply for the Ancestry visa to move to the UK.  Such an applicant will have to prove that he is:

  • A citizen of South Africa
  • Is over 17 years of age
  • Has a grandparent who was born in the UK
  • Can work or intends to work in the UK
  • Has made accommodation arrangements for himself and family members in the UK

The visa will allow individuals to stay in the UK for up to five years. After five years if they meet some additional requirements, they will be eligible for indefinite leave to remain (ILR), which would allow them to live in the UK permanently.

The partner and children of ancestry visa holders can come with them to the UK.

To choose the right visa option which will help you to migrate from South Africa to the UK in 2021, take the help of an immigration consultant who will provide you with the right guidance.

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