On Sunday the 15th of March President Ramaphosa declared a national state of emergency, issuing a travel ban preventing certain foreign nationals from entering the country. However, many South Africans are not aware that these travel bans – at present – do not restrict South African nationals looking to exit the country to places like the United Kingdom (UK).
While the President has recommended that South African citizens consider their potential exposure to the virus when making outbound travel arrangements, the UK government’s borders remain open at this time.
UK immigration firm, Move Up, said that the UK’s department of Visas and Immigration (UKVI) as well as Her Majesty’s Passport Office (HMPO) also remain open and receptive to new applications.
“We have become aware of misinformation suggesting that South Africans are not allowed to leave South African territory or apply for these types of travel documents in the face of the spread of the coronavirus, however it’s important that these misapprehensions are corrected as soon as possible,” said Move Up’s managing director, Ryan Rennison.
This means that if you are still looking to get your UK VISA or Passport done using Move Up there will be no delays and we are continuing on with business as usual.
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“In spite of the global COVID-19 crisis, we are still successfully processing and submitting applications for British passports and UK settlement visas to the UK government,” he said.
Given that the UK government is continuing to process British passport and visa applications, Rennison has encouraged South Africans interested in emigrating or settling in the region to make productive use of their quarantine time by getting their travel documents in order.
“We are encouraging South African passport holders who are interested in emigrating to the UK to get in contact with us so that we can begin assessing their individual cases and providing expert advice on their eligibility for British passports and UK visas,” added Rennison.
Move Up has invited interested parties take their free online assessment to determine which visas they may be eligible for, or to get in touch with them for a free birth certificate assessment, which may help to determine whether they qualify for a British passport or ancestral visa. Move Up is also able to assist with UK document tracing.
“We are committed to monitoring the UK’s border situation and visa processing updates daily and will keep the public updated via our website and social media channels should anything change, or new decisions be made,” concluded Rennison.
23 March 2020
Pretoria’s Visa Application Centre is no longer accepting appointments. TLS has closed this centre for now. JHB, CPT and DBN remain open at this stage.
24 March 2020
After last nights announcement, where President Ramaphosa announced a 21-day national shutdown for South Africa, effective Friday 27 March 2020, Move Up’s team is making preparations for remote work.
Further to this, the UK government has also announced a national shutdown (duration of shutdown unconfirmed):
Move Up’s intent is to keep operational during this time. Emails and telephone systems will remain open. Clients remain able to conduct casework during this time.
Move Up has also received a lot of feedback that airlines seem to present the next logical challenge during this preventative period.
With the announced UK and SA shutdowns, we are left to assume that Visa Application Centres will most likely close during that period. We will be monitoring TLS status in this regard.