UK visa routes for South African nationals

The UK has always been a hugely popular destination for South African nationals – something that many of the best immigration lawyers in London are very much aware of as they regularly advise South African nationals on the various visa routes that are available to them. Statistics suggest that in 2017, there were 210,000 people born in South Africa who were living in the UK. This makes up almost a quarter of South Africans living overseas. So for South African nationals considering taking advice from an immigration solicitor in London, what are the most popular UK visa routes open to them?
 
UK Ancestry Visa route
 
Given close historical ties between South Africa and the UK and Europe, it’s easy to think that most South Africans can benefit from one of the UK visa routes based on family ties with the UK or the EU. Unfortunately, this is a misconception, but for those able to qualify, the UK Ancestry visa or EEA family visa, is still a popular choice for South African nationals wishing to come to work in the UK.
 
The UK Ancestry visa is available to any Commonwealth citizen applying from outside the UK who can prove that their grandparents were born in the UK and who is able and intends to work in the UK. In addition, the applicant must meet other eligibility requirements including age (applicants must be 17 or over) and financial resources. If successful, a UK Ancestry visa allows the holder to stay in the UK for 5 years. The visa can be extended.
 
What are the alternatives for South African nationals who can’t qualify for a UK Ancestry visa?
 
business immigration options to the UK for South African nationals
 
It’s well worth considering the business immigration options, taking advice from London business immigration lawyers where appropriate. The UK offers a business environment that many South African nationals feel comfortable with and thrive in, and there are opportunities to either come as an Entrepreneur to set up a new venture; as an investor; as the sole representative of a South African company to set up a UK branch, or simply to come to the UK to take up a role as a skilled worker under the Tier 2 visa route.
 
- UK Entrepreneur Visa for South African nationals
 
The UK Entrepreneur Visa is available for individuals looking to establish a new business venture in the UK. It’s available to the self-employed, and applies equally to someone wishing to take over a business as well as those looking to set up from scratch. There is an investment criterion to satisfy – either £50,000 or £200,000 – plus eligibility criteria which include being able to demonstrate business acumen and a clear business plan for the venture. It’s possible to create an entrepreneurial ‘team’ to come to the UK, sharing the investment according to the UK’s immigration rules. Taking advice from top immigration lawyers in London can be crucial to ensure that an applicant for a UK Entrepreneur Visa presents the best possible application, satisfying the UK’s strict immigration regime.
 
- UK Investor Visa for South African nationals
 
The UK Investor Visa is a popular option for high net worth individuals looking to achieve settlement in the UK. The minimum investment under this UK visa route is £2 million. For increased investments, settlement in the UK is available earlier. Again, there are complications that can arise in applications for UK Investor Visas, particular arising over misunderstandings about the necessary paperwork and documentation required from the back in respect of the finds to be invested in the UK. As a result, taking advice from on of the top 10 immigration lawyers in the UK is always advisable.
 
- UK Sole Representative visa for South African nationals
 
This is one of the UK visa routes that is particularly appropriate for a South African company wishing to establish a branch or wholly owned subsidiary in the UK. In those circumstances, it is possible to send a key member of the company’s personnel to the UK under the UK Sole Representative visa route to progress the establishment of the branch. The sole representative must be a senior employee intending to work full time in the business. While he or she can be a shareholder, it must not be a majority shareholding. The idea is that the parent company must stay firmly in South Africa.
 
- Tier 2 skilled worker visa route
 
Businesses and organisations based in the UK are able to recruit overseas and may well advertise roles in South Africa. If you are offered a role in the UK under the Tier 2 skilled worker route, the employer will already have been authorised to recruit the post. In many cases, the employer will have to have shown that there is no-one available within the UK’s own settled workforce before recruiting abroad. To apply for a Tier 2 skilled worker visa and take up the role you have been offered, you will need a certificate of sponsorship from your employer, in addition to satisfying other eligibility criteria for this visa route.
 
With around 210,000 South African nationals already living in the UK, it’s clear that the UK’s popularity as a destination remains. If you’re considering the opportunities the UK offers you as a South African national and would like to discuss your circumstances with an expert immigration solicitor, give us a call on 0203 959 9123.
 
OTS Solicitors are highly regarded London immigration solicitors. We regularly advise on all aspects of Immigration Law including UK Entrepreneur Visas, Investor Visas, sole representative visas and Tier 2 skilled worker visas. We can also assist with applications for UK Ancestry visas. To get in touch and to book a consultation with one of our immigration lawyers, call 0203 959 9123
 

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