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  • The UK government has just introduced a new points-based system for people who want to work there. 
  • Fluent English and an existing job offer are demanded, and you will earn extra points if you have a PhD.
  • In practice, the new rules require that applicants need to have a job offer of at least £25,600 (around R500 000) a year. For a small group of "shortage" occupations, like nursing, the absolute minimum will be £20,480 (R400 000).
  • For more stories, go to Business Insider SA's home page.

Following its official departure from the European Union at the end of January, the UK has just announced a new points-based system that will place South Africans who want to work in the UK on an equal footing to those from the rest of the world.

In practice, the new rules require that applicants need to have a job offer of at least £25,600 (around R500 000) a year. For a small group of "shortage" occupations, like nursing, the absolute minimum will be £20,480 (R400 000).

Applicants need to score at least 70 points for their qualifications and other requirements:

Source: UK government

Some of the requirements are basically non-negotiable: All applicants will need to demonstrate that they can speak English and that they have a job offer from an approved sponsor, as well as that the job offer is at the required skill level.

That’s unless you have a specific skill or your job is listed as a “shortage” occupation.

“The most highly skilled, who can achieve the required level of points, will be able to enter the UK without a job offer if they are endorsed by a relevant and competent body,” the UK government said in a statement.

Also, some of the requirements are “tradeable”.

For example, a university researcher in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) field on a salary of £22,000 (which is below the general minimum salary threshold), may still be able to enter the UK if they have a relevant PhD in a STEM subject. Likewise, a nurse wishing to come to the UK on a salary of £22,000 would still be able to enter the UK because nursing is a “shortage” occupation.

Otherwise, workers whose occupation earns a going salary rate of less than £22,000 (R428 000) won't be considered. 

The UK government says it is moving away from low-skilled and temporary workers.

 “We need to shift the focus of our economy away from a reliance on cheap labour from Europe and instead concentrate on investment in technology and automation. Employers will need to adjust,” it said in a statement.

According to the UK government, the system will prioritise the skills a person has to offer, not where they come from. “For too long, distorted by European free movement rights, the immigration system has been failing to meet the needs of the British people.

“From 1 January 2021, EU and non-EU citizens will be treated equally. We will reduce overall levels of migration and give top priority to those with the highest skills and the greatest talents: scientists, engineers, academics and other highly-skilled workers.”

Students will be also covered by the points-based system. They will achieve the required points if they can demonstrate that they have an offer from an approved educational institution, speak English and are able to support themselves during their studies in the UK.

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