UK Visa Requirements for South African Citizens
Many South African citizens have some connection to the UK which may give rise to a basis on which they can apply for a visa to move to the UK. For example, as a citizen of South Africa, you might have a British parent, grandparent, or partner. In this post we look at the options you might have for relocating to the UK as a South African with a British parent, grandparent or partner, as well as alternative UK visa options for South Africans without a British family member.
Do South Africans Need a Visa for the UK?
If you are South African and you have a British parent, you may be a British citizen, and may be able to apply for a British passport rather than a visa.
If you were born after 01 January 1983, and you have a parent who is British “otherwise than by descent”, you may be a British citizen.
Establishing whether your parent is British by ‘descent’ or not can be complex. It will depend on where and when they were born.
If your parent was born in the UK, they are probably British “otherwise than by descent”, so you may be British yourself.
If you are British, and want to come to the UK with your family, you may be able to sponsor them to join you under Appendix FM to the Immigration Rules (see below).
UK Visas for South Africans
UK Visas for South Africans with a British Grandparent
If you are a South African citizen and you have a British grandparent, you may be able to apply for a UK Ancestry visa. In summary, you will need to show that you:
- You are a Commonwealth citizen (which you are, as a South African citizen);
- You are aged 17 or over on your date of intended arrival to the UK;
- You are able to provide proof that one of your grandparents was born in the United Kingdom or Islands;
- Any such grandparent is your blood grandparent or grandparent by reason of an adoption recognised by the laws of the United Kingdom relating to adoption;
- You are able to adequately maintain and accommodate yourself and any dependants;
- You are able to work and intend to seek and take employment in the UK;
- If you are under the age of 18, your parent(s) or guardian(s) have consented to the application;
- You have provided a TB Certificate, if required.
If you are successful in applying for a UK Ancestry visa, you will be able to live in the UK for up to five years.
If you have lived in the UK for five years with a UK Ancestry visa, and meet some additional requirements, you can apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR), which would allow you to live in the UK permanently.
Once you have ILR, you can apply to naturalise as British, if you wish.
If you have a partner and/or children, they can come with you to the UK if you have a UK Ancestry visa.
UK Visas for South Africans with a British Partner
If you are South African and your partner is British, your partner may be able to sponsor you to travel with him/her to the UK or join him/her in the UK. For the purposes of the Immigration Rules a “partner” is a spouse or civil partner, a fiancee or proposed civil partner, or an unmarried partner (defined as “a person who has been living together with the applicant in a relationship akin to marriage for at least 2 years prior to the date of the application”).
An application as a partner is made under Appendix FM to the Immigration Rules. The requirements are, in summary:
- The Sponsor is British or holds Indefinite Leave to Remain;
- You are both over the age of 18;
- You have met in person;
- Your relationship is genuine and you intend to live together permanently;
- Any previous relationships have broken down permanently;
- There is adequate accommodation for you and any dependants;
- You speak and understand English to the required level (there is a specific test which you need to take to demonstrate this, or you may be able to rely on a degree taught in English).
In addition, there is a specific financial requirement which must be met in most cases. It is usually necessary to show that the Applicant or Sponsor has an income of at least £18,600 per year. The amount required is higher if you have children who are not British. You have to have an additional £3,800 per year for the first child and an additional £2,400 each for any further children. You can find out more about meeting the financial requirement with children here.
If the income you rely upon is salary from employment or income from self employed work it is necessary to show that the Sponsor alone has a sufficient income. There are a variety of different sources of income on which you can rely, so it is not always essential to be able to meet the financial requirement by relying on salary alone. For example, you may be able to rely on non-employment income or savings (see here for further information about this).
If You Are South African and Have No Family Ties to the UK, or You Cannot Meet the Requirements of the Categories Mentioned Above:
As a South African citizen you may still have UK visa options depending on why you want to come to the UK and how long you want to stay here.
For example, the UK offers a range of long-term and short-term work and business immigration routes (sponsored and non-sponsored) for South Africans, including:
- Long Term Work Visas (including Skilled Worker, International Sportsperson and Minister of Religion)
- Short Term Work Visas (including High Potential Individual and Creative Worker)
- Business Visas (including Start-up and Innovator)
- Global Business Mobility Visas (including Senior or Specialist Worker and UK Expansion Worker)
- Talent Visas
The UK also offers a range of Short Stay Visit Visas to citizens of South Africa for purposes such as:
- Visiting friends, family and/or for a short holiday;
- Short-term unpaid business activity;
- Unpaid creative activities;
- Short courses of study or research;
- Unpaid sporting activities;
- Receiving private medical treatment;
- Marriage or civil partnership in the UK;
There are also options for South Africans who wish to study in the UK.
Contact our Nationality & Immigration Barristers
If you are a citizen of South Africa and you would like to discuss your plans to relocate to the UK with one of our immigration barristers, including issues around ancestry applications, family applications and dual citizenship, contact us on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form below.