Insights into the popular UK visas for saffers – John Dunn Sable International

Official figures of South Africans living in the United Kingdom are that there were 298,000 in 2020/21, but for expats living in the south or near London, it appears to be many more. You can hardly ‘skinder in Afrikaans’ on the street or on the London Underground without somebody understanding you. John Dunn, Citizenship and Immigration specialist at Sable International says the UK has historically been a destination of choice for a lot of South Africans and it still is. Dunn told BizNews about the range of visas South Africans can apply for and said that there were job opportunities for skilled and unskilled workers on the Isle of Man, a UK Crown Dependency that wants to grow the island’s population from 85,000 to 100,000 by 2035. – Linda van Tilburg


Many UK visas options for South Africans 

There are still general tourist visas and business visit visas that people are looking for, which are short-term visas which allow you to go travel the country, and see the tourist sites. Then in terms of business, that’s if you have business interests in the UK, you need to go for meetings, training or when you’re looking to set up a business or buy into a business long-term, those short-stay visas are still out there. If you’re looking more for settlement and you want to relocate to the UK permanently then the most popular options today are still for those that have links to the UK. That is either they have a spouse and they go on a spousal visa and that allows them to live and work in the UK for a period. Then the ancestry, if you have grandparents that were born in the UK, you can get a five-year visa which allows you to live, work, and study in the UK and both of those can lead to permanent residency, indefinite leave to remain or citizenship at some point.

If people don’t require a short stay or business or relocation or they don’t have links to the UK and they would like to relocate, they’ve really narrowed down the options for South Africans. So, young individuals that will be on student visas can go study short courses or longer-term courses. If they go on the longer-term courses, there are options for them to stay depending on what they study and whichever cities they study in, they can go on to a graduate visa, which allows them a longer stay. Then, of course, there are also skilled worker visas. So, a UK company will then sponsor you to live and work in the UK and after a period that can lead to settlement, depending on which type of skilled worker visa. Some visas just allow you to come to spend a period, and it doesn’t lead to settlement. Some are full settlement visas as well. 

Read more: The secrets of the UK Ancestry visa – and how to get yours   

No SA universities on the UK High Potential Visa list

They remodeled the highly skilled model program which South Africans used to take advantage of. If you had a degree and you had a certain amount of work experience, you were granted a two-year visa to travel to the UK, go look for work and find permanent employment. It’s now called their high-potential individual. The major difference is the degree that you have has to be from a certain list of universities that they accept. So, it has to be from one of those universities and some of them are New York University, Harvard, Stanford and University of Hong Kong. Unfortunately, there’s no South African University on that list of universities. If a South African goes and studies elsewhere in Australia, the US, or Asia; then whilst they get their degree or qualification, they can apply for the high potential individual visa, but they wouldn’t be able to study in a university in South Africa and then go on to apply for that specific visa. 

The Isle of Man is looking for skilled and unskilled workers

The other thing that people don’t consider is not necessarily the mainland UK. There are places like the Isle of Man that are desperate for low and semi-skilled people, even skilled people. I was at one of the seminars the other day that the Isle of Man held and they’re looking for things like butchers, electricians. Even though you go through a similar immigration process if you’re applying from South Africa, they have their own immigration system and their skilled worker visa is slightly less onerous. I think their goal was to go from 85,000 people on the island currently to 100,000 by the year 2035. So, they are looking for employment and people that are looking to spend time there. 

Read more: The truth about the UK self-sponsorship visa

86-year-old secured a visa to work in the UK

There is no age restriction. We have assisted our oldest applicant for an ancestry visa, it is actually a five-year working visa. She was 86 and she went on her own. Even though it is classed as a working visa, what she was doing was going to elderly care facilities and her job was to read to some of the people that stay there. So, it can also be volunteer work. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a 9 to 5 job that you work five days a week. It can also be voluntary work.

Read more: Britain’s EU divorce opened door for South Africans to work in the UK – Saskia Johnston Sable International

Sable International work according to a strict “no visa, no fee” policy. If you don’t get your visa, you don’t pay us a penny.

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