All South Africans wanting to come to the UK are going to require a visa, even if they are arriving for a holiday or transiting through an airport.
The UK Border Agency announced that from March 3, 2009, South Africans would have to:
• Pay £65 for a holiday visa or £45 for a transit visa;
• Have to visit a visa office in SA for finger printing and an eye scan; and
• Need to prove they can pay for their trip.
South Africans who have previously travelled to the UK on their current passport will be exempt from this until mid this year. For full detials go to the SA Times website.
South Africans who already have a visa to live in the UK won’t be affected.
The UK High Commission in South Africa said:
• Abuse of the SA passport “remains a serious concern”;
• South Africans were prominent among people refused entry on arrival in the UK; and
• There had been a “significant increase” in South Africans working illegally or overstaying their visa clearance in the UK.
Earlier Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said the change follows concern that terrorists are exploiting the availability of stolen or forged South African passports. Security officials also say South Africa has become a base for terrorist activity. The Home Office was also concerned that too many immigrants are obtaining South African passports and travelling to Britain without further checks.
In 2008 South Africa and 10 other countries, including Brazil and Mauritius, were warned to improve their passport security systems or face stringent visa requirements.
South Africans are the fifth largest group of visitors to Britain each year after the US, Australia, Canada and Japan.
In 2007, 419,000 South Africans travelled to the UK, including 168,000 tourists and 46,200 business visitors. Nearly 3,000 were given work permits.
Visitor visas lasting up to six months cost £65 and work visas £205.
Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said: “The Government said it would get tough and we meant it. Already our shake-up of border security is delivering results, with three million fingerprints taken from visa applicants and 3,000 people caught trying to hide their identity. Fingerprint visas make up one part of Britain’s triple ring of security, alongside high-tech watch-list checks at the border and ID cards for foreign nationals.”