Many South Africans are concerned about how Brexit will affect their chances to live and work in the United Kingdom (UK). The good news for South Africans and other non-European Union (EU) citizens is that the ending of free movement and new UK immigration rules which are in the pipeline might benefit them.

Brexit and the ending of free movement will mean that there will be a demand for workers in the UK that will not be filled in the first instance by workers from the EU, as they will no longer have an automatic right to work in the UK. This will be beneficial to non-EU workers looking at opportunities to live and work in the UK.

White Paper on UK immigration

At the end of 2018, the UK Government released a White Paper on immigration. The UK Government plans to engage extensively with businesses, stakeholders and the public on the proposals. They will then start introducing the new immigration system in a phased approach from 2021. Note, however, that the UK government will proceed in the meantime to phase in some other immigration changes, such as the Seasonal Agricultural Scheme.

The proposals contained in the White Paper bring good news for South Africans looking for opportunities to live, work or study in the UK. Some of the main proposals include:

  • To remove the annual cap on the number of work visas available.
  • To widen the skills threshold. By widening the skills threshold, persons with qualifications equivalent to British A-levels will also qualify for skilled worker visas.
  • Currently, UK employers who want to employ non-EU citizens on the Tier-2 route have to advertise the position first, to ensure that there is no suitable local worker. The White Paper proposes to remove this requirement. It will thus be easier for UK employers to employ non-UK workers.
  • A new 12-month visa for all skill levels is also proposed. This visa will provide access to the labour market, but without any benefits. Visa holders will not be allowed to bring family, and the visa will not lead to UK settlement. There will also be a 12-month cooling period. This means that one cannot immediately apply for a new visa, but will have to wait another 12 months before becoming eligible to apply again.
  • There will be no cap on international students going to the UK for studies. There are also proposals that students must be allowed to stay for six months to find employment after completing a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree. This timeframe will be 12 months for students who completed a PhD degree.

It is clear that the ending of free movement and the proposed new UK immigration rules will open up many opportunities for those looking to live and work in the UK. Breytenbachs is also excited about current new proposals that will be introduced in 2019, such as the Seasonal Agricultural Scheme.

For more information or to find out whether you qualify for any current UK visa or permit, please visit

This post is also available in: Afrikaans

Breytenbachs Immigration Consultants Limited
Breytenbachs Immigration Consultants Limited
BREYTENBACHS IMMIGRATION CONSULTANTS LIMITED specialises in UK and SA Immigration. We pride ourselves on our reputation for excellence, fast results and friendly service. The consultants in the UK immigration department will be able to give you the best advice on the permit or visa that will enable you to live and work in the UK or South Africa.

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