Home > UK Visitors > New Rules for South African Visitors to the UK

New Rules for South African Visitors to the UK

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 23 Apr 2017 | comments*Discuss
Uk Visa South Africa Immigration

The UK government has added South Africa to a list of countries whose citizens require a visa to visit the UK. The change follows a review of current visa rules. South Africa was amongst a number of countries which had been warned that stricter rules would be implemented if they did not improve the security of their own passport and immigration systems. The change is part of a wide-ranging and ongoing overhaul of the UK immigration system intended to increase the security of the UK’s borders.

Implementation of the new rules for South African visitors began on 3rd March 2009 with full implementation scheduled to be completed by later in the year.

Visa Nationals and Non-Visa Nationals

Foreign nationals are divided into two categories for UK immigration purposes: visa nationals and non-visa nationals. Visa nationals require a visa to come to the UK – the majority of foreign nationals come under this category. Non-visa nationals do not usually require a visa to come to the UK for up to six months. Non-visa nationals may need a visa if they intend to stay in the UK for longer than six months or if, for example, they wish to work or study while they are in the country.

A full list of all visa national countries can be found at the UK Border Agency’s dedicated visa website. It should be noted that the nationals of some countries will require a visa even if they only wish to transit through the UK en route to another country. Indeed, foreign nationals wishing to transit through the UK from South Africa may now require a transit visa to do so.

Other countries added to the list of those whose citizens require a visa to visit the UK as part of the same review were Lesotho, Swaziland, Bolivia and Venezuela.

South African Visitors to the UK

Previously South African nationals did not require a visa to come to the UK for short tourist visits of up to six months. Prior to this change visitors from South Africa came fifth in terms of the number of visitors to the UK by nationals of countries outside the European Union.

The rules have been changed because of growing concerns about the possible national security threat posed by South African passport holders, as well as the risk that they may breach immigration rules or commit crimes whilst in the UK. In particular there were concerns that the South African passport system was open to abuse by nationals of other countries who would apply for a South African passport so that they could come to the UK.

The Impact of the New Visa Rules on South African Visitors to the UK

All South Africans visiting the UK for the first time will now have to be fingerprinted and apply for a visa. The cost of the visa will depend on whether it is a six-month visitor’s visa or one which allows the applicant to work while they are in the UK. A first-time six-month visitor’s visa will cost £65.

Some South African visitors who have previously travelled to the UK may be able to apply for an exemption from the visa requirement - but only until the new system is fully implemented later in 2009.

South African nationals who wish to come to the UK to work will already have felt the impact of the points-based immigration system for workers, which is considered to be stricter than the previous system it replaced. South Africans may also be affected by the general tightening of the rules for foreign nationals wishing to work in the UK which have been introduced to protect the interests of UK workers during an economic downturn.

Assurances have been given by British diplomats in South Africa that extra UK visa processing services will be provided to ensure that the disruption to genuine South African visitors is kept to a minimum. The South African government has said that it will begin introducing new passports which comply with international immigration and security requirements. This may lead to the new rules being relaxed at some point in the future.

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I lived in the UK in 2002,returned 2003,I overstayed a couple of months,will I have a problem visiting now?
Raz - 23-Apr-17 @ 2:48 PM
Good day. I am a South African with a South African passport and I have a british passport. Will i need a visa to work and stay in the UK? Will i need a work permit to go over. My stay will be longer then 6months.
Nay - 14-Mar-17 @ 2:39 PM
My partner arrived in the UK on anancestral visa in 2002 (His father's family are English). He has always worked and contributed. We met just over a year ago and are very much in love and wish to marry. However, he has just been diagnosed with cancer and has developed a very debilitating neurological condition and so he has now moved in with me and my children and I am now his carer. We are applying for 'change of circumstance' as he is not entitled to public funds. What our biggest concern is that his visa runs out next year and as the condition not only effects his ability to control his motor functions, it also impairs his speech and memory and so he would be unable to take the citizenship test. It's a desperately worrying situation for us, and desperately sad as he has only just turned 47. Advice please!
Sal - 27-Jan-17 @ 10:37 PM
hi,I came in the uk as aa Tier 4 general student visa in 2012.My one baby girl, she was born in 2014.My visa will finish pn this yr 2016 Aug.We are planning to move in the south africa,as my husband is the pr holder in the SA.My question is that,is my baby will be able after 18 yrs old to claim her british citizenship? Pls with source of reference comment your valuable experience.Thanks in advance.
Ariana - 2-Jan-16 @ 8:44 AM
Shame on the South Africans has to take the blame,all became a mess as they lost control on Nigerians & Zimbabwens who messed up S.A & now will never be able to control it anymore,it's a shame,until today lots of Nigerians & Zimbabweans who still claim to be S.African.it might become better to ask them for their Birth certificates instead.now innocent ppl has to pay the price for what? The whole thing makes me sooo ungry am sorry. Am sure u'll all agree with me & understand . Ms Posh
Posh - 20-Nov-14 @ 11:27 AM
I understand the reasoning, I just find it sad that my daughter has to bear the cost of obtaining a visa for her 3 children who were born in South Africa and are aged 5,2 & 1 in order for them to visit the UK to see us. Having lived in SA for more than 30 yrs I understand the situation. South Africa will never control it's illegal immigrant situation as long as their border officials turn a blind eye to the trade in illegal passports which is a very lucrative business.
Grannyjan - 27-Mar-11 @ 2:44 PM
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