Last Updated on July 14, 2020

UK New Point-Based Immigration System to Benefit Kenya

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Under post-Brexit immigration rules, highly skilled Kenyans without degree-level qualifications will from next year be allowed to apply for work permits in Britain. This new development will enable them to compete with jobseekers from the European Union and other regions.

Britain’s new immigration system would be point based closely mirroring Canada’s points-based immigration system. It is set to be implemented from January 2021. According to the UK government, the new system will treat EU  and non-EU citizens equally. Also, it will transform the way in which all migrants come to the UK to work.

According to an advisory by Britain’s Home Office, “Under the new system, those wishing to live and work in the UK must gain 70 points. These points are awarded for criteria such as having a job offer, holding a PhD relevant to the job. Also, speaking English and earning more than £22,000 per year. There are also additional points for those with job offers in ‘shortage occupations’.”

Visas are then awarded to those who gain enough points. The new system will “provide greater flexibility and ensure UK business has access to a wide pool of skilled workers.

How Kenya will benefit from the New Immigration Policy

The UK home office has also reduced the requirement for job applicants. The minimum skill level of A-level or equivalent from degree-level under the 27-member EU bloc system is now accepted. The relaxed rules will enable Kenyan professionals in fields such as IT, accountancy, plumbing and electrical works to compete with other migrants.

Following Britain departure from the EU bloc earlier this year, there is a projection for a huge climb in job vacancies. Especially more after the new post-Brexit immigration system ended free movement of labour between it and the EU.

There is currently no planned formal route for lower-skilled workers to enter Britain. Although seasonal and sector-specific schemes may be created.

Britain has also lowered the minimum general salary threshold for skilled migrants by 26.67 percent. From £30,000 per year currently to £22,000 (Sh2.97 million) per year, or £1,833 (Sh247, 628) a month.

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All these changes follows a January 2020 proposal by Migration Advisory Committee (MAC). The MAC is an independent entity that advises the British government. The MAC proposal had recommended £25,600 (Sh3.46 million) minimum annual pay for migrant skilled labourers.

Kenyan Students Benefitting from the new Policies

The relaxed visa rules will also benefit Kenyan students. Students will now be allowed more time after completing studies in the UK universities. Britain’s Home Office calls this new scheme the ‘Graduate route’. As opposed to the four months under EU rules, Kenyan students just like other international ones, will be allowed more time to stay in the UK to look for jobs.

International students completing undergraduate or master’s degrees will be able to stay in Britain for two years. Meanwhile, students completing a PhD will be able to stay up to three years.

The new ‘Graduate route’ system will “make it easier for international graduates to secure skilled jobs in the UK. This would ultimately contribute to the UK’s economic growth.

in a statement on Monday British High Commissioner to Kenya Jane Marriott said “Leaving the European Union means the UK will be open to the brightest and best from around the world. This means Kenya is very much a part of that”.

“I’m particularly pleased that the new Graduate Route will be opening in summer 2021. It will allow Kenya and the UK’s fantastic and talented minds to work even more closely together.”

UK Home Secretary Priti Patel also commented on Brexit and the new immigration systems. She said Brexit has allowed “British people take back control of our borders and introduce a new points-based immigration system”.

“Now we have left the EU, we are free to unleash this country’s full potential. We are also able to implement the changes we need to restore trust in the immigration system. This starts with delivering a new fairer, firmer, skills-led system from 1 January 2021,” Ms Patel said in the statement.

“Britain is open for business and ready to welcome the best and brightest global talent.”

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