The UK government has decided that it must reduce the number of legal migrants coming to the United Kingdom from next year.

The UK is often viewed as an ideal migration destination for South Africans.

A familiar language, cultural similarities and employment opportunities make the UK an attractive country for South Africans.


South Africa has a large migrant stock in the United Kingdom. The number of South Africans living there is estimated to be over 220 000. 

Data shows that the UK is home to the largest number of South African expats outside of SA, followed by Australia and the USA.


High levels of legal migration have dominated Britain’s political landscape for some years. Thus, in 2016, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union (EU).

One of the primary reasons was so that it could take control of its borders and tackle the country’s migration issues.

The UK’s departure from the EU led to mass labour shortages in numerous areas of the economy. This in turn led to the ramping up of permits for workers from countries outside of the EU. 

Net migration to Britain in 2015, the year before the Brexit referendum, was 329,000.


Conservative-led governments in the UK have pledged to reduce migration with targets of net figures of less than 100,000 people.

Data showed that the UK’s overall immigration in 2022 was almost 1.16 million people, while emigration figures stood at 557,000.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said in May that 925,000 of those arriving in 2022 were non-EU nationals, 151,000 came from the EU and 88,000 were British citizens.

“Migration to this country is far too high and needs to come down, and today we are taking more robust action than any other government before,” Cleverly told lawmakers, per Al Jazeera.


The UK’s Home Secretary James Cleverly has come under pressure since assuming office three weeks ago. This is because of the high numbers of immigrants coming into the UK. 

Cleverly emphasized the need to tackle the migration issue. Consequently, the Home Secretary presented a new five-point plan. This is set to come into effect next spring.

The measures include:

The minimum salary for foreign skilled workers will be raised from £26,200 to £38,700 (about R623,000 to R920,000), though the health and care sector will be exempt).

The minimum income requirement for a spouse or family visa will be raised from £18,600 to £38,700.

Care workers will not be allowed to bring any dependants to the UK, and care firms are required to be registered with the Care Quality Commission in order to sponsor visas for candidates.

The UK’s Skills Shortage Occupation List will be amended. The current 20% going rate salary discount for occupations in short supply will be abolished.

Rules on students bringing family members to the UK will be tightened. The Migration Advisory Committee will be commissioned to carry out a full review of the graduate visa route.

These measures are set to reduce the number of legal migrants entering the UK.  Cleverly said that these controls as well as previously announced measures (regarding students) would have led to 300,000 fewer people being legally eligible to enter the UK.

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