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4 Best Visas for South Africans Emigrating to the UK

With emigration property sales at a 10-year high of 13.4% according to FNB’s latest report, chances are you know someone who has recently emigrated to the United Kingdom (UK) – or someone who is planning to. 

Here are the four most accessible visas that South Africans should consider in order to emigrate to the UK.   

1. Birth Rights

If your parents or grandparents hail from England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland and you have access to their birth certificates, you could be eligible for a British passport or an ancestral visa. 

A British passport gives you permanent citizenship rights, while an ancestral visa allows you to live in the UK for up to 5 years, with the option to apply for indefinite leave to remain – and, eventually, a British passport. 

“This is by far the most successful route ordinary South Africans can take to move to the UK, but it’s important to note that the British government has very strict requirements and rules if your parents or grandparents were born in a British colony,” said Ryan Rennison, managing director of UK visa solutions experts, Move Up.

Rennison’s company offers free birth certificate assessments to determine whether applicants are eligible to lay claim to British birth rights.  His company also helps with locating relatives’ birth certificates that have been lost or damaged.

A young married couple applying for a spousal visa.

2. Marriage Rights

If your partner has a British passport or is eligible to apply for an ancestral visa, you can relocate to the UK after obtaining a spousal visa.  Spousal visas usually take three months to process, but it is possible to pay an additional fee to speed things up.

“It’s important to note that you cannot convert a visitor visa to a spousal visa while you’re in the UK:  spousal visas must be applied for from your country of permanent residence,” said Rennison.

Move Up advises that spousal visa applicants begin collecting evidence of their monogamous relationship as soon as possible, since the Home Office will eventually investigate the legitimacy of the relationship. 

“Shared utility bills, transcripts of emails and WhatsApp messages and evidence that you rely on one another financially all count towards proving the authenticity of your relationship,” he added. 

Baby's visit to the doctor

3. Points-Based System

If birth and marriage rights do not apply to you, the next best way to qualify to live and work in the UK is to qualify for their points-based visa system. The points-based system makes provision for business owners, investors and individuals with specific skills.

“Right now, the UK government wants to attract people with scarce skills that are beneficial to their economy and the National Health Service (NHS); including tech start-up teams, doctors, nurses, fashion designers, as well as film and television professionals,” added Rennison. 

Highly skilled individuals in the fields of science, humanities, engineering, digital technology and the arts are already on their priority list.

Cheerful cricketers celebrating their victory

4. Non-Points-Based Visas

For those who don’t qualify for any of the above visas, there is a collection of unique UK visas that cater for truly exceptional human beings. 

This category applies to highly talented sportsmen and women, as well as academics who hold a PhD in science, engineering, the humanities, medicine, digital technology or the arts; and those who are considered (established or emerging) leaders in their field.  

Over the past ten years Move Up has represented 150 unique entry clearance applications, of which they have seen over 135 of those cases awarded with visas – that’s a 90% success rate! 

Get in touch with our experienced consultants via info@moveup.co.za or call CPT +27(21) 761 4608  JHB +27(10) 597 3604 or KZN +27(31) 941 5090 if you’d like to chat through your British passport, UK visa or immigration options or get a FREE visa assessment. 


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