Non-graduate Kenyans granted work permit in UK

Highly skilled Kenyans without degree-level qualifications will from Monday access work permits for employment in Britain under new immigration rules that followed the UK agreeing a deal to exit the European Union. 

 Britain’s new points-based immigration system, which took effect on Friday, has lowered the requirement for job applicants to a minimum skill level of A-level or equivalent from degree-level that applies in the EU bloc system. 

 The UK, which voted to exit the EU in 2016, agreed a new trade deal with other European countries on December 24, triggering new rules on work, residency and trade. 

The relaxed visa rules will enable Kenyan professionals in fields such as IT, accountancy, plumbing and electrical works to compete with other migrants. 

 Britain projects a huge climb in job vacancies after the new post-Brexit immigration system ended free movement of labor between it and the EU following the departure from the bloc earlier this year. 

The government says it will treat EU and non-EU citizens equally and will aim to attract people who can contribute to the British economy. 

 James Duddridge, the UK minister for Africa, told the Business Daily “people who have lived and have done a bit of work” in the UK, worked for companies with links to British firms and “have cultural appreciation of the UK society” stand to score more points under the work visa rules. 

 This will give an edge to Kenyans working for British multinationals such as Diageo, a majority shareholder in East African Breweries Limited , Standard Chartered Bank , British American Tobacco , GlaxoSmithKline, Tullow Oil, and De La Rue. 

 “It brings much greater clarity about what is required and …this is absolutely brilliant for Africa,” Mr Duddridge said in an interview. 

“That’s good news for Africans wanting to come to Britain.” 

 The UK has in recent years come under criticism for its stringent work permit and visa approval rules for Africans. 

Successful visa applications for business take up to four weeks on average to be processed, mostly in South Africa, with the majority of the applications being rejected. 

 “It’s too difficult for people to come to the UK but applications and acceptances are growing higher. We are doing better on visas (although)… we are not doing good enough,” Mr Duddridge said. 

The new UK work permit rules treat all foreigners equally unlike the previous work visa policy which had “free movement rights” clause for citizens of the EU bloc member countries. 

 To qualify for a visa, migrant workers who want to move to the UK will have to attain 70 points. 

Having a job offer from an approved employer for a skilled assignment will earn 40 points. Being able to speak English will give another 10 points. 

 The applicant can achieve the remaining 20 points if they are due to be paid at least £25,600 (Sh3.79 million) a year or Sh316, 480 a month. 

An offer of a job in which the UK has a shortage earns an applicant 20 points even if it doesn’t pay as much money. Under what Britain’s Home Office calls “Graduate route”, which opens in Summer 2021, Kenyan students, just like other international ones, will be allowed more time to stay in the UK to seek jobs and more than the four months under the EU rules. 

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

Britain says the new “Graduate route” system will “make it easier for some of the best, international graduates to secure skilled jobs in the UK and contribute to the UK’s economic growth”. 

 After nearly four years of politicking, haggling and delays that cost the political careers of two Prime ministers – Theresa Mary (2019) and David Cameron (2016) – the UK formally left the EU on December 31.

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