UK Visa Clampdown for South Africans

The South African passport is now invalid for attaining entry into the UK, where South Africans will need to apply for a Visa to be granted UK entry rights. With the UK government embarking upon one of its most radical regulatory regimes, by deeming the South African passport as invalid to gain entry onto UK based soil, merely as an added security measure, South African based expert Immigration group, 1st Contact, explain the stark reality and practicalities surrounding this stringent new policy and how this is set to really affect South Africans.

According to 1st Contact, not only will this be a lengthy and cumbersome administrative process for South Africans to gain the correct Visa status to visit the UK, but there is also a newly introduced bio-metric component attached to this new regime. It has been alleged that South Africans will be required to complete a 10 page application form, incur fees anywhere from £ 65 (for holidays Visas) to £ 600 (for business Visas) and then still make their way to VFS (Visa Facilitation Service) office, for finger printing and retina scans. The biometric scans are then sent to the British High commission along with the application to review, before the granting of Visas takes place.

1st Contact predicts that UK authorities may clampdown even further and that the application process may not be as simple and straightforward as what we, as South Africans, would have hoped for.

This new policy is set to come into full effect on 3 March for first time South African visitors to the UK, where it is predicted that the full regime will come into play by mid 2009.

Historically South Africa has made up the 5th largest tourist group in Britain. According to an article published in the BBC, in 2007 419 000 South Africans legally visited the UK, comprising of 168 000 tourists and 46 200 business visitors, where over 3000 South Africans were even granted work permits. According to 1st Contact, the new regime is not designed to curb tourism from South Africa but has simply been designed to strengthen the UK’s borders.

It is alleged that 6 months ago, South Africa was forewarned by UK officials to improve its passport security systems, where failure to do so would result in stricter entry measures. Countries such as Botswana, Brazil, Malaysia, Mauritius, Namibia, Trinidad and Tobago had improved their systems sufficiently and on time to prevent further stringency from the UK government

1st Contact offers the following advisory tips for South Africans with travel aspirations, to make the most out of this unfortunate situation:

* Since this process is a cumbersome one, with predictions being made of a further clampdown, initiate your Visa application with an expert immigration firm, in order to avoid delays to the issuance of your visa. The cost of acquiring these visas is extremely high, and coupled with travel expenses, traveling to the UK has now become an expensive undertaking. As such any errors made in the application process could result in individuals running the risk of loosing their non-refundable visa fees. Consulting an expert will ensure that you do not loose your application fee unnecessarily should your application be denied due to a technical error.

* Ensure you know the visa entry requirements for the UK prior to departure, as repatriation to South Africa can be costly.

* If you are only coming to the UK as a visitor, do not carry things such as CV’s, job offers, employment references etc… in your hand luggage. This will increase your chances of being refused entry by a UK immigration officer!

For more information about this issue, or to make contact with one of our expert visa consultants, visit

  • Liza

    To whom this may concern

    I have been in the U.k. since 18 June 2005. Will these changes affect me? I am trying to contact the Immigration Enquiries Bureo, but can never get hold of them by phone even if i phone at 9:00am on the dot. There is no e-mail address to contact them on and i would like to know two simple questions. Can i use certified marrage and birth certificates of my parents and grand parents, as my family do not wish to send the origional for safety reasons? I know they generally prefer origionals, but will a certified coppy be sufficient? Also The forms which i have down loaded to extend the stay of my visa are likely to change over the next few months.Will the FLR(O) version 11/2008 still be valid to use before the 15 June when my visa will expire? Please could you respond to some of my queries. I would greatly appreciate some sound advice!

    Kind Regards
    Liza Luffingham

  • Mfundo Majola

    Does this apply to student visas?

  • 1st Contact eNews

    Student Visa’s are in fact separate visa all together with their own set of qualifiers. This effects only individuals looking to enter the UK on the Tier 1 and Tier 2 Visas. Tier 1 is Highly Skilled Visa and Tier 2 is the employment sponsored visa – separate from Student Visas.

  • Barry Dennis

    1. My last visit to the UK was in October 2008. I am planning a visit over the easter weekend – Would I still require a Visa?
    2. Does one require a transit visa as well when transfering between flights?

  • 1st Contact eNews

    Individuals whom have a valid passport and have recently entered the UK with the entry clearance stamp in their passport will be allowed to enter prior to May / June 2009 without requiring a visa; however after this date all SA Passport holders will be required to obtain a visitors visa as well as transit visas. 1st Contact however still promotes obtaining of visitor visa prior to the May/June 2009 deadline, due to the change having taken effect on the 03 March 2009 requiring all SA Passport holders to obtain a visitor visa prior to entering the UK, and that it is up to the immigration official at port of entry to allow entrance.

  • Donny M

    Now South Africa will impose the same for UK Passport holders.
    My girlfriend works for the Home Office South Africa and it seems that they will impose their restrictions 3 months before the World Cup making it almost impossibe for British passport holders to go for the 2010 World Cup Finals.

  • Donny M

    Now South Africa will impose the same for UK Passport holders.
    My girlfriend works for the Home Office South Africa and it seems that they will impose their restrictions 3 months before the World Cup making it almost impossibe for British passport holders to go for the 2010 World Cup Finals.

  • Jeanette

    Will this affect my getting an extension for my ancestral visa ?

  • Jeanette

    Will this affect my getting an extension for my ancestral visa ?

  • Gregory

    I have and will always say this again: ROBERT MUGABE HAD A POINT. This goes to show that the British still want to continue their colonialism. I wonder what will happen if South Africa started making laws to prevent any British passport holder from entering South Africa without acquiring a visa beforehand to enter South African soil. There should be a mutual understanding. You allow us in with the minimum requirements and we allow you in with the minimum requirements or vice versa.

  • Gary

    I’m a permanent resident in Switzerland (SA passport holder) I have free access in the EU. Does this new visa regulation for the UK apply to me??

  • Antoinette Kruger

    I am currently living in the UK on a settlement visa which expires in Dec this year, will i still be eligble for the ILR or have there been changes made to this also?

  • 1st Contact eNews

    Unfortunately all SA Passport holders require a visitor visa to enter the United Kingdom.

  • 1st Contact eNews

    The UK Border Agency has not yet issued any amendments to the ILR legislations at this time.

  • Louise

    Does the Ancestral Visa to the UK still stand amid all the visa changes?

  • 1st Contact

    Currently the criteria for the Ancestral Visa are unchanged. The visa changes relate to Visitor Visa and Highly Skilled Categories at present.

  • Chris

    I know this question has been asked before, but…
    Will it be possible to enter the UK for eatster without the new visa if I have a stamp from a previous entry?

    I am a Danish resident with a South African passport, but there is no british visa issuing authority in DK as Danes don’t need visas. how can I go about getting that visa without returning to SA?

  • Stephen Atkinson

    Hi Chris,

    Until midnight on 30 June 2009, South African passport holders who have evidence of travel to the UK in their current, active passport are exempt from requiring a Visitor visa prior to entering the UK.

    From 01 July 2009, this concession will end, and all South African passport holders will require a Visitor visa endorsed into their passport from a British foreign post abroad before they arrive in the UK.

  • SHER

    Can anyone tell me how long their visitor visa took? And is there anyone that you were able to contact to help you.

    I live in S.A and applied for my visitor visa 5 days ago … I am supposed to be flying to U.K on Monday the 1st June 09. I cant get hold of the British visa section in Pretoria, all I get is the call center and they are no help. I have sent emails to vfs but my email gets answered buy an auto messaging system. Can anyone give me some good advice or better yet help me.


  • 1st Contact Visas

    Hi Sher,

    Thank you for your enquiry.

    Visas in SA are processed in around 10 working days. It is not easy to get hold VFS and a person to assist. You can go on their website and track your application if you desire at:

  • Heather

    Hi there,

    I have dual citizenship. S.A and U.K passport. Would like to know if i go to the U.K will i still need a visa.

  • Emmy

    I’m planning to go to UK for 6 months on tourist visa visiting friends in UK but also going to Germany and Austria during this time but returning to UK. Would it be difficult to get the visa as I would not have a job during this time and will be supported by the people I’ll be visiting? Which documents should I provide?

    • 1st Contact Visas

      Hi Emmy,

      Thank you for your enquiry.

      Unfortunately you have not stated your nationality or passport country, so this is difficult to answer.

      Please contact your nearest 1st Contact office for further assistance:

      In the UK:
      0800 856 2473

      In South Africa:
      0800 003 163

      In Australia
      1800 039 300

      or via email to

  • Penelope

    Doe this include swazi passport holders?

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  • RGed

    My husband is on an IDR visa. We are married 5 years. Does he need a visa to return to uk if we go to Ireland for a weekend. He still has SA passport?

    Thank you

  • Rochelle

    Hi, I’m South African,married 4yrs to a British citizen,I’m living and working in the UK,next year August my spouse visa needs to be extended,how do I go about this and what is the cost. I used 1st Contact cape town and they were amazing


    • 1st Contact

      Hi Rochelle,

      We will be happy to assist you with his application. You can email our team on