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New Rules for South African Visitors to the UK

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 26 Jan 2019 | 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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[Add a Comment]
@Nat - He can only re apply for a visa if the circumstances that led to his first application being denied have changed. The fact that you are now married should improve his chances.
TJ. - 26-Jan-19 @ 10:53 PM
Good morning, I am a british citizen living over-seas in the Caribbean, my husband is from south africa and only holds a south african passport, we planned on visiting England together before we were married in 2017 but his visa was denied. We've been married for over a year now, what is the best way to go about getting him entry into the UK to visit?
Nat - 24-Jan-19 @ 2:06 PM
@Vincent - The new settlement rules are only for EU nationals. If your wife is legally in the UK she does not need to change anything.
TJ. - 21-Jan-19 @ 4:47 PM
Im British born and bred. My wife and i have been married for 23 years. She was born in south africa we have 2 children and a grand child. She came to the UK 1992 with her father and adoptive step mother.She has all her documents regarding permanent residence in the uk. Naturalisation etc. She has been trying to get her original birth cert from south Africa without success. But has one with her step mothers name on it.. her biological parents are both dead. She knows nothing of her family as she was very young when they came to the uk..does she need new status to remain with all the new rules. .she has a national insurance number everything to be a uk citizen. Help please.
Vincent - 20-Jan-19 @ 10:48 PM
@funkynorm - you will require a visa to come to the UK.
TJ. - 22-Dec-18 @ 12:20 PM
Can someone with a South African passport visit the UK without obtaining a visa if they have a Aufenthaltstitel German residency card?
Funkynorm - 20-Dec-18 @ 5:07 PM
@Gary - EU citizens can live, work and study in the UK without any restriction.
TJ. - 20-Nov-18 @ 5:40 PM
Hello Can South African born, (mom and son) who both hold Italian Passports come and live and work in the UK? Would they need visas or anything other than their Passports. Thanks in advance.
Gary - 17-Nov-18 @ 5:53 AM
@Eve - it depends on where your daughter was born. If your daughter was born in the UK, then your grand daughter is a British citizen but must apply for a British passport before coming to the UK. If your daughter was not born in the UK then your grand daughter is not a British citizen and will require a visa to visit the UK as a South African citizen.
TJ. - 19-Sep-18 @ 6:06 AM
Hi , I am a British citizen living in the UK. My daughter who is also a British citizen and holds a British passport is living in South Africa and wants to come over with my 19 month old granddaughter for a holiday. My granddaughter was born in South Africa and has a South African passport . Does she need a visa to enter the UK ?
Eve - 18-Sep-18 @ 6:19 PM
My husband and I have been living in the UK for 3 years. He has dual citizenship (Italian & South African), I have an EEA visa with SA passport. We have a 5 month old baby who has already received her SA passport and we have applied for her Italian passport but not yet received (10 weeks and waiting). We are travelling to SA in less than 2 weeks. What do we need if the Italian passport does not arrive in time? Will she need a UK visa in her South African passport to re-enter the UK or will all of our documentation (including UK birth certificate and proof of Italian passport submission) suffice?
Jo - 3-Aug-18 @ 10:22 PM
Hi there, I am currently living in the UK as an EU citizen with my husband who is South African and has an EEA family permit. We are wanting to travel to South Africa with our baby, who has a South African passport, but are worried about re entering the UK when we return. Do we need to get him a UK visa even though he was born here and lives here or will his original birth certificate suffice at border control?
Kitty - 2-Aug-18 @ 9:44 AM
Good day, I am a South Africanpassport holder and will be travelling home to South Africa from the USA via Heathrow soon and would like to find out if I need a transit visa to spend the day in London.I do have a validUS visa and the time between flights is approximately 12 hours. Your response would be appreciated.
Ang - 24-Jul-18 @ 1:57 PM
@Maxine - EU citizens are allowed to live, work and study in the UK without any restriction or visa. Your friend can come to live in the UK any time she chooses but she should take note of events surrounding Brexit.
TJ. - 17-Jul-18 @ 3:05 PM
Hi, I have a question on behalf of my best friend who has lived in South Africa since birth. She has a German passport which she inherited from her parents and is interested in moving from South Africa to the UK. Please can you advise what steps she needs to take in order to do this, is this possible? Thanks for your help
Maxine - 16-Jul-18 @ 9:47 PM
charlien - Your Question:
Hi There,I am a British Citizen, currently living in South Africa. I am looking at relocating in the next few months to the UK on a permanent basis. My boyfriend, a South African Citizen would like to join me as well. What procedures will we need to follow in order to allow him to stay in the UK with me. Thanks in Advance.

Our Response:
You would have to be living in the UK (for at least six months) and other pre-requisites in order to be able to apply for your boyfriend to live with you. Please see link here .
AboutImmigration - 13-Jul-18 @ 12:23 PM
Hi There, I am a British Citizen, currently living in South Africa. I am looking at relocating in the next few months to the UK on a permanent basis. My boyfriend, a South African Citizen would like to join me as well. What procedures will we need to follow in order to allow him to stay in the UK with me. Thanks in Advance.
charlien - 12-Jul-18 @ 8:47 PM
Kay - Your Question:
Good day. I met my girlfriend a few months ago and we are now serious enough to get married. She is from Scotland and living there and I am from South Africa. We plan on closing the distance months from now and I will be the one relocating. Can anyone advice me as to what the process and fees are in terms of this? How long does a visa take? Should we have our wedding in South Africa and get married here or Scotland? Etc. As much information as possible please.

Our Response:
You would have to fulfil all the requirements laid out via the link here, which should tell you all you need to know. Your only other alternative would be to apply for a visa independently of your spouse i.e a work or study visa, as you would not fulfil the length of relationship required to apply for a spouse visa. A marriage visa may also help, please see link here, which would allow you to stay up to six months only.
AboutImmigration - 23-Apr-18 @ 12:41 PM
Good day. I met my girlfriend a few months ago and we are now serious enough to get married. She is from Scotland and living there and I am from South Africa. We plan on closing the distance months from now and i will be the one relocating. Can anyone advice me as to what the process and fees are in terms of this? How long does a visa take? Should we have our wedding in South Africa and get married here or Scotland? Etc. As much information as possible please.
Kay - 23-Apr-18 @ 6:30 AM
@Megdeb - Your husband was a UK citizen even before he got his British passport. Any citizen of South Africa wanting to visit the UK needs to apply for a visa in advance of their journey. This condition does not apply to Brazilian citizens who are granted visas on arrival.
TJ. - 14-Mar-18 @ 7:05 AM
Hello. I've been married to a South African-born man, whose father is British for 33 years. Because of his British father, he has a UK passport and citizenship. My sons, both on ancestral visas, live and work in London. We would like to visit them in June and I realise, as a South African, I'll need a visitors' visa. I applied for one previously (2013) before my husband applied for and got his UK passport, and I had my biometrics processed as required, so they're all on the system. My question is: this time, as I'm traveling with a UK citizen, must I still apply for another visitors' visa in advance, or may I get one on arrival at the airport (like my Brazilian friends do when they travel to the UK)?
Megdeb - 13-Mar-18 @ 2:29 PM
@Booth - It will depend on your status in the UK. If you are a British citizen your partner will have to apply for a family visa as a spouse. If you are an EU citizen your partner will have to apply for an EEA family permit. If you are on a tier 2 visa your partner will have to apply for a dependant visa to remain in the UK.
TJ. - 22-Dec-17 @ 9:05 PM
If i marry my south Africa g.f will she be able to stay here with me
Booth - 22-Dec-17 @ 1:19 PM
@Kate the UK does not have a specific requirement to have 6 months validity on a passport before one is allowed to enter. Your sister can travel back to the UK as long as her passport and ILR remain valid.
TJ. - 28-Nov-17 @ 3:42 PM
I have a question on behalf of my sister. She’s flying to South Africa for Christmas on her South African passport. But the passport expires in March and she’s worried that she won’t be allowed back into the UK. She applied for a new passport in September but it hasn’t arrived yet. She’s in the process of applying for her British passport but I’m not sure where in the process she is. She has been granted leave to remain. She has full time employment, a UK address and bank account. She applied for a temporary passport, but was told that they no longer issue these. She has tried contacting the South African embassy to get answers, but apparently no one wants to assist her. Does anyone know if she will be allowed back into the country with less than 6 months validity on her current passport?
Kate - 28-Nov-17 @ 5:17 AM
@Nixpix - He would have to apply for a work visa. He wouldn't qualify for a family visa.
MistyM - 23-Oct-17 @ 3:27 PM
I have British passport and status (British husband and two British children) as do both my parents and we all live in the UK. My brother is in South Africa, he has a South African passport but wants to come and live and work here with us his family in the uk. He has visited previously on holiday visa. What steps must he take to come here and work and make a new life with us? He is 47 years old. Please help many thanks!
Nixpix - 21-Oct-17 @ 12:29 PM
Hope - Your Question:
My daughter is a full time student with uk passport. Her SOuth African boyfriend and her wish to marry, and for him to live in uk while she is still a student.what visa would they apply for or what criteria would they meet?

Our Response:
Please see the gov.uk link here, which should tell you all you need to know.
AboutImmigration - 19-Sep-17 @ 10:24 AM
My daughter is a full time student with uk passport. Her SOuth African boyfriend and her wish to marry, and for him to live in uk while she is still a student.what visa would they apply for or what criteria would they meet?
Hope - 18-Sep-17 @ 5:40 AM
AlexW - Your Question:
Hi there,I would like to know if it's possible to get an Au pair visa for a South African person? We are a British family and would like to employ a Au pair/ Nanny who would live in with us. What do we need to provide for him and what he needs so he can come over?Thank you, Alex

Our Response:
Please see the gov.uk link here which should tell you all you need to know.
AboutImmigration - 12-Sep-17 @ 4:16 PM
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