Visitors and Transit Visas

South African nationals are required to apply for a tourist / visitors visa prior to travelling to the UK.

Standard Visitor visa

You can apply for a Standard Visitor visa if you want to visit the UK:

  • for leisure, eg on holiday or to see your family and friends
  • for business, or to take part in sports or creative events
  • for another reason, eg to receive private medical treatment

The Standard Visitor visa has replaced the:

  • Family Visitor visa
  • General Visitor visa
  • Child Visitor visa
  • Business Visitor visa, including visas for academics, doctors and dentists
  • Sports Visitor visa
  • Entertainer Visitor visa
  • Prospective Entrepreneur visa
  • Private Medical Treatment Visitor visa
  • Approved Destination Status (ADS) visa
If you visit the UK on business

You can apply for a Standard Visitor visa if you want to visit the UK for business-related activities, eg:

  • you’re coming to the UK for a conference, meeting or training
  • you want to take part in a specific sports-related event
  • you’re an artist, entertainer or musician and coming to the UK to perform
  • you’re an academic and are doing research or accompanying students on a study abroad programme
  • you’re a doctor or dentist and are coming to the UK to take a clinical attachment or observer post
  • you want to take the Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB) test or sit the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE)
  • you want to get funding to start, take over, join or run a business in the UK
What you can and can’t do

You can:

  • take part in any of the business-related activities mentioned in the Visitor Rules.
  • study for up to 30 days, as long as it’s not the main reason for your visit
  • take part in an exchange programme or educational visit (if you’re under 18)
  • convert your civil partnership into a marriage

You can’t:

  • do paid or unpaid work
  • live in the UK for long periods of time through frequent visits
  • get public funds
  • marry or register a civil partnership, or give notice of marriage or civil partnership
Permitted Paid Engagement visa

You may be able to get a Permitted Paid Engagement visa if you’ve been invited to the UK as an expert in your profession.

You can apply for a Permitted Paid Engagement visa if you:

  • are invited by a UK-based organisation or client
  • want to come to the UK to do specific paid work without having to be sponsored under the points-based visa system

You can stay in the UK for up to 1 month. 

You can be invited by a UK-based organisation or client to:

  • be a student examiner or assessor
  • take part in selection panels as a highly qualified academic if you’re invited by an education, arts or research organisation
  • give lectures at a higher education institution, as long as it’s not a part-time or full-time role
  • examine UK-based pilots so they meet the standards of the country you come from if you’re invited by an approved UK training organisation regulated by the UK Civil Aviation Authority
  • provide advocacy in a particular area of law
  • take part in arts, entertainment or sporting activities including broadcasting
  • take part in fashion modelling assignments 

You can also do minor activities related to your work or business overseas, eg attend meetings. 

You can’t:

  • do specific paid work unrelated to your main job or area of expertise at home or sell merchandise, other than what’s allowed by your visa
  • extend this visa or switch to another visa
  • live in the UK for extended periods
  • get public funds.
  • study for more than 30 days – studying can’t be the main reason for your visit
  • marry or register a civil partnership, or give notice of marriage or civil partnership
  • bring family members (‘dependants’) with you on your application – they must apply separately
Marriage Visitor visa

You must apply for a Marriage Visitor visa if:

  • you want to get married or register a civil partnership in the UK
  • you want to give notice of a marriage or civil partnership in UK
  • you’re not planning to stay or settle in the UK after your marriage or civil partnership

You don’t need a Marriage Visitor visa to convert your civil partnership into a marriage – you can apply for a Standard Visitor visa.

Transit Visas

South African nationals are required to have a transit visa to transit/connect in the UK but there are certain exemptions to the rule.  One such an example is:

  • You may be able to transit the UK airside without a visa. To qualify for this exemption:
  • you must arrive and depart by air; and
  • your onward flight must be confirmed, and must depart within 24 hours; and
  • you have proper documentation for your destination, including a visa if necessary.
Additionally, you must hold:

1) a valid entry visa for Australia, Canada, New Zealand or the USA, and a valid airline ticket for travel via the UK, as part of a journey to or from one of those countries;

Immigration UK

Contact us:

Tel: +27 (0)21 403 6423
Tel: +27 (0)72 478 3621

Office Location:

Spaces V&A Waterfront
Dock Road Building
Corner of Dock and Stanley Road
Cape Town, 8001

Government announces timelines for introducing measures to reduce net migration

The Minister of State for Legal Migration has announced key dates for introducing measures which aim to significantly reduce legal migration into the UK. The dates announced include:

  • 19 February 2024, Immigration Rules will be laid which will remove the right for care workers and senior care workers to bring dependants. This will come into force on 11 March 2024.
  • 14 March 2024, Immigration Rules will be laid to:
    • Increase the earnings thresholds for those arriving on the Skilled Worker route, with the minimum threshold rising by 48% from £26,200 to £38,700. These changes will come into force from 4 April 2024.
    • Remove the 20% going rate discount for occupations on the Shortage Occupation List, as well as temporarily add any occupations as recommended by the MAC to the new Immigration Salary List.
    • Increase the minimum general salary threshold under the Family Route in line with that for a Skilled Worker of £38,700. The plan is to raise the minimum income requirement incrementally and in stages.
      On 11 April 2024the threshold will raise to £29,000 (with a further increase at some stage to £34,500) and finally to £38,700, by early 2025.

The Minister of State reiterated that these changes will ensure the UK’s immigration system is focused on attracting skilled, highly paid talent from around the world and help tackle the abuse of the Health and Care Visa.
The announcement comes shortly after legislation was passed this month to enable the Immigration Health Surcharge to be raised by 66% to £1,035, in respect of applications made on or after 06 February 2024.