4 ways South Africans can emigrate to the UK


More South Africans are opting to leave the country in search of better opportunities in the UK and other countries.

There are plenty of legal avenues one can pursue this journey, such as obtaining visas or passports through channels linked to ancestry, work opportunities or a study.

According to Cross border financial and emigration specialists and Director of Citizenship and immigration at Sable International, John Dunn, here are four ways South Africans emigrate to the UK.

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Ancestry visas

According to Dunn, if you have a grandparent who was born in the UK, you likely qualify for the UK Ancestry visa.

“This is one of the best routes into the UK as it allows you to bring your partner and children as dependants. It can also lead to permanent residency (indefinite leave to remain) after five years, followed by citizenship,” said Dunn.

He also revealed that other requirements are that you are a Commonwealth citizen over the age of 17 and that you are willing to work while in the UK.

“If you qualify for the Ancestry visa, there’s also a chance you might qualify for Citizen by Double Descent, so it’s worth taking Sable International’s free British Citizenship Assessment to ensure you explore all of your options,” said Dunn.

UK partner or spouse visa

Dunn also revealed that if you are married to or in a serious relationship with a British citizen or someone settled in the UK, then you can apply for a family of a settled person visa to join your partner in the UK.

“This visa is valid for two years and nine months. After which time, you can apply for an extension to stay in the UK for a further two years and six months. After five years on the spousal visa, you’ll be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain and citizenship a year later,” said Dunn.

He also reiterated that the main requirement for this visa is the income threshold.

“Your UK partner will need to either earn a gross annual income of over £18,600 or have £62,500 in cash savings to support you in the UK – this number is higher if you have dependent children,” advised Dunn.

Work visas

According to Dunn, another way and the most common way for South Africans to move to the UK is with a Skilled Worker visa.

He said that in order to apply, you must get a job offer from a company that has the right to employ overseas workers.

“Once you have a job offer, you will need to meet a certain threshold of “points”, which are awarded based on factors such as your expected salary, skill level and experience. Some requirements are mandatory, and others are “tradeable” (meaning that as long as you meet enough of the requirements to accrue 70 points in total, you should still qualify),“ said Dunn.

Studying in the UK

And finally, many South African parents are sending their children to study abroad to ensure they obtain internationally recognised qualifications and to give them the chance to live overseas.

“Studying in the UK is one of the easiest ways to emigrate to the UK because the barrier to entry is lower. To qualify for a UK student visa, you need to be accepted into a UK university and be able to prove that you have enough funds to pay for your fees and for your stay in the UK,” said Dunn.

He said that a student visa does not lead directly to settlement in the UK. However, after you complete your studies, you can apply for a Graduate visa, which allows you to remain in the UK for two years, three with a PhD, while you find work.

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