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Brexit BOOM: Data shows success of post-Brexit visa scheme as skilled workers flock to UK

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Britain is into the first year of its post-Brexit immigration system, with new data revealing how successful it has been so far. Before, anyone who was an EU national could come to live and work and study in the UK without first having to apply and give their work and educational backgrounds. Those from outside the EU had a harder time applying to work, study or settle in the UK.

But now, under the new post-Brexit points system, Home Office immigration figures show a 25 percent increase in work-related visas being granted compared to 2019 — the last full year before the coronavirus pandemic.

Less than a tenth of these came from EU migrants who had to obtain a new visa from January 2021, showing the extent to which non-EU migrants had turned to the UK.

Changes have also been seen under the study visa programme: applicants from Nigeria, Pakistan, India, the US and China were among the top nationalities to have been accepted on those visas.

In 2019, only 8,384 applicants from Nigeria were granted sponsored study visas, compared to 2021’s figure of 43,300.

UK immigration: Britain has attracted more skilled workers with its news post-Brexit rules

UK immigration: Britain has attracted more skilled workers with its news post-Brexit rules (Image: GETTY)

Boris Johnson: The new rules are more lenient than those proposed by former PM Theresa May

Boris Johnson: The new rules are more lenient than those proposed by former PM Theresa May (Image: GETTY)

This marked an increase of 415 percent — the biggest by far.

Pakistan, meanwhile, saw a percentage increase of 256 percent from 2019 to 2021 — going from 4,927 applicants being accepted to 17,533.

In India, 61,351 more people were accepted on sponsored study visas compared to 2019, a 164 percent increase.

On the lower side, five percent more US citizens were granted on to the scheme, while intake from China actually dropped by -0.1 percent.

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Sponsored study visas: The differences in those being accepted on study visas outside the EU

Sponsored study visas: The differences in those being accepted on study visas outside the EU (Image: UK GOV)

Skilled workers: The job categories defined as'skilled' in the UK have widened

Skilled workers: The job categories defined as ‘skilled’ in the UK have widened (Image: GETTY)

Other non-EU/EEA applicants accounted for 16 percent of accepted applicants.

It brought the total of non-EU/EEA applicants up 44 percent on 2019, with the total of applicants including the EU and EEA up by 52 percent.

The points-based system — rolled out in early 2021 as the UK left the EU, and tweaked amid the HGV driver shortage in September — opened up half of all jobs in the UK to foreign workers, by lowering salary and skill thresholds for migrants.

Before this, employers had to prove that a British worker could not be recruited to fill a vacancy before recruiting from abroad.

But now, the number of professions that qualify for skilled work visas has expanded significantly.

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Study visas: The new scheme has also seen an uptick in the number of non-EU students entering the UK

Study visas: The new scheme has also seen an uptick in the number of non-EU students entering the UK (Image: GETTY)

Home Office: The Home Office is led by Priti Patel, the Home Secretary

Home Office: The Home Office is led by Priti Patel, the Home Secretary (Image: GETTY)

These include job titles such as chef, bricklayer, electrician, welder, and health and care worker.

The Government has also removed caps on most visa routes.

Jonathan Portes, professor of economics at King’s College London, told The Times that the uptick was a reflection of the “Brexit effect”.

He was quick to add, however, that Brexit was not the only driving force behind the increase in non-EU immigration, which also had Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s fairly liberal take on post-Brexit immigration.

He said: “This is definitely Brexit. There was always this question about whether Brexit would result in a reduction in immigration or a switch or some combination of the two.

“The original Theresa May plan was very much aimed at the former — at reducing immigration from the EU by ending free movement, while having only very limited increases in non-EU migration.

Bricklayer: The manual labour role has been included in the new skilled worker list

Bricklayer: The manual labour role has been included in the new skilled worker list (Image: GETTY)

“The system we have ended up implementing is much more about the switch rather than the reduction because the new system is considerably less liberal for Europeans because of the end of free movement but it’s considerably more liberal on a number of dimensions for the non-EU for both work and student visas.”

The introduction of the Skilled Worker Route in January 2021 saw a third more skilled migrants entering the UK than the previous restrictive Tier 2 visa it replaced.

In total, 150,000 more people came under the skilled route, which accounts for the majority of work-related visas.

The vast majority of these were migrants from outside the EU.

Healthcare: Those working in the healthcare industry are now also classed as skilled workers

Healthcare: Those working in the healthcare industry are now also classed as skilled workers (Image: GETTY)

In regards to working visas, like the study visas, India, Pakistan, and Nigeria accounted for some of the highest intakes, while Filipinos also took a place on the list.

The number of Nigerians granted skilled work visas rose by 161 percent from 2019 to 2020 — an increase of 6,327 people.

Pakistan saw an increase of 62 percent, while the Philippines accounted for an increase of 53 percent from 2019 to 2021. India saw an uptick of 14 percent.

The US, however, actually saw a 25 percent decrease in nationals coming to work in the UK between 2019 and 2021 — largely seen as a result of COVID-19 travel restrictions.

The total of non-EU/EEA migrant workers entering Britain soared by 21 percent, while the total including those from the EU/EEA increased by 33 percent.

Skilled work visas: The criteria for skilled work has broadened into a range of new industries

Skilled work visas: The criteria for skilled work has broadened into a range of new industries (Image: UK GOV)



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