South Africans living in the United Kingdom might be deported if the 2012 UK immigration law is strictly followed by the government. South Africans living there and earning less than £35 000 a year may face deportation in less than 3 months.
The home secretary to the UK government Theresa May revealed in 2012, the government’s plans to introduce immigration rules to restrict UK immigration come 2016.
The new rule which requires migrant (non-EU workers including South African expats) workers who have been in the country for more than 5 years to have an annual income of £35 000 (R665 625 at R19.03/pound) or more, was set based on the annual income of the average UK worker which is £27 000 (R513 779) according to the High Pay Centre, an independent think tank monitoring income distribution.
Though this act has been heavily criticized by the British people, the British home office explained that the pay threshold was introduced in order to curb UK’s reliance on foreign labour and as well reduce annual net migration.
The British Home office went further to state that the expected changes would not impact occupations where there was a shortage of foreign labour.
The act is said to be having serious effect on the nursing and teaching sector especially as they both rely on foreign workers.
For instance, report from BBC has it that the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has calculated that the National Health Service (NHS) would possibly be loosing around 3, 300 foreign nurses by 2017 and by the end of the decade the numbers could be double – a potential waste of nearly £40m when all the costs of recruitment are taken into account.
The RCN general secretary Peter Carter who referred to the government’s rule as “illogical” said “the immigration rules will cause chaos for the NHS and other care services. At a time when demand is increasing, the UK is perversely making it harder to employ staff from overseas.”
More than 400,000 nurses are reported to be working in the NHS and over 600,000 registered to work. Up until now, settlement has been granted on the basis of length of time living in the country, as well as pre-existing ties with the UK.
In a bid to halt deportation due to the law, a UK Parliament petition has however been set up and only British citizens are allowed to sign the petition.
Meanwhile, expats currently residing in the UK should consider themselves to be in trouble if their answers to the questions below is YES
- Do I hold a non-EU passport?
- Am I yet to apply for or be granted Indefinite Leave to Remain (IDL)?
- Have I been living in the UK for more than 5 years?
- Am I earning less than £35 000 a year?