UK visa shake-up is great news for South African tech professionals

Many skilled South African professionals continue to look overseas for job prospects, attracted by increased security and more developed job markets.

The United Kingdom is a top destination for South African emigrants, and there is a great demand in the country for skilled technology and finance workers.

Following Brexit-induced immigration changes, the UK is now implementing radical visa reforms that will make it easier for qualified and promising professionals from other countries to immigrate.

Additionally, while standard and skilled work visas require job offers from sponsoring UK companies, the UK offers a Global Talent visa for skilled professionals in certain fields.

This allows them to move to the UK without a job offer, provided they meet certain criteria.

This is also being expanded amid a raft of immigration reforms designed to attract skilled workers to the UK from all over the world.

UK visa changes

In the UK’s 2021 Budget Speech, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a set of ambitious visa reforms aimed at highly-skilled migrants.

“The government is modernising the immigration system to help the UK attract and retain the most highly-skilled, globally mobile talent – particularly in academia, science, research and technology – from around the world,” Sunak said.

“This will drive innovation, and support UK jobs and growth.”

The UK government will make the following visa-related changes:

  • Introduce, by March 2022, an elite points-based visa. Within this visa there will be a ’scaleup’ stream, enabling those with a job offer from a recognised UK scale-up to qualify for a fast-track visa.
  • Reform the Global Talent visa, including to allow holders of international prizes and winners of scholarships and programmes for early promise to automatically qualify.
  • Review the Innovator visa to make it easier for those with the skills and experience to found an innovative business to obtain a visa.
  • Launch the new Global Business Mobility visa by spring 2022 for overseas businesses to establish a presence or transfer staff to the UK.
  • Establish a global outreach strategy by expanding the Global Entrepreneur Programme, marketing the UK’s visa offering and explore building an overseas talent network

What it means for South Africans

Of significant importance to South African professionals looking to move overseas is the elite points-based visa, which could make it easier to fast-track emigration, as well as the reformation of the Global Talent visa, making it easier for applicants to qualify.

Additionally, the Global Business Mobility visa will make it far easier for South African companies to establish UK branches and move staff across, as is already occurring in several industries in South Africa.

Reports have suggested that the new elite points-based visa is aimed at attracting fintech talent from around the world to the UK.

This is great news for South African professionals working in the local banking sector and looking to move overseas, as they may find themselves in a much better position to find work in the UK provided their tech skills are sufficient.

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UK visa shake-up is great news for South African tech professionals