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The South African’s Guide To: Relocating to the UK

By October 16, 2019October 3rd, 2023FinGlobal

The South African’s Guide To: Relocating to the UK

October 16, 2019


The UK has increasingly strict guidelines around granting citizenship to non-EU residents but as long as you’ve done your homework, gathered your ducks in a row and fulfilled all the necessary UK visa application paperwork and eligibility requirements, a new life in the United Kingdom is just an application away for you. Don’t let the dreary, cold weather deter you, as the United Kingdom has one of the strongest economies in the world. Its cosmopolitan job market is brimming with possibilities, and the prospect of building a life near an international city like London is incredibly attractive for many South Africans. Determined to brave the weather and the stiff British upper lip, South Africans have been migrating to the UK for decades with the purpose of earning sterling British pounds to bring back home for retirement purposes, while others make for the British Isles with the intention of never looking back. Regardless of your endgame objective, you need to start with an entrance plan.


Speak to any South African who has done time in the UK, and they’ll all agree: the UK visa process is a tough nut to crack, even more so if you want to crack it permanently. Applying for permanent residence can get costly and depends on a variety of considerations. Unless you hold dual citizenship, you’ll need a visa to gain access.


What are your UK visa options?

If you were born in the UK, or you’re lucky enough to have a UK passport through your UK-born parents or grandparents – you’re in luck. Migrating to the UK from South Africa shouldn’t be too much of a hassle for you, going the ancestral/family route. Better still, your dependents and family members can gain access to the UK, and eventually apply for citizenship through you, if they’re patient and willing to stick it out. This inclusion extends to your children, adopted children, and your spouse. While you don’t need to be married, you do need to have been living in marriage-like conditions for at least two years and will need to be able to verify the longevity of your commitment.

Most countries make it easy for the wealthy to get in, and if you’re looking to invest, the Highly Valued Migrant visa is your ticket. This makes provision for entrepreneurs and investors who have access to £200 000 to put into a business. This amount will have to be transferred over into a UK bank account, which is something FinGlobal can help investors with, easily.

The Skilled Worker visa is as straightforward as it sounds. This visa is used to attract highly skilled individuals who fulfil very specific occupations in the UK. Every country has a list of approved jobs and fields; the UK’s list is relatively large, and it’s worth checking if you have skills or domain expertise that they’re on the hunt for.

Then, finally, there’s the Exceptionally Talented visa. Contrary to what you might think, this is not a visa to perform on “Britain’s Got Talent”. Instead, it is a visa that offers opportunities to industry trailblazers across a variety of fields, seeking to attract the brightest minds in medicine, science, technology and engineering to the United Kingdom. By means of this visa, after six years, the main applicant and family members are permitted to apply for citizenship.


[Sidenote: To find out more about the different visa types, read this.]


What paperwork do you need to apply for a UK visa?

Due to the ever-changing nature of travel and visa requirements, the first place to start your research is on the UK High Commission in South Africa page. The exact requirements for each visa type are different, but generally, you’ll need unabridged birth certificates for yourself (as the main applicant) and for each of your dependants you intend to move with you, as well as South African passports that are valid for at least another 6 months from the date of your application.

If you’re going the spousal visa route, you’ll need to be able to supply affidavits or character testimonials that prove marriage-like conditions. Anything that shows that you’re living like you’re married, even though you never put a ring on it. Items that are effective here include shared accounts, bills to your shared address, photographs and the like. The Highly Valued Migrant visa requires proof that you’re willing and able to invest. In addition to being able to provide bank statements, you’ll need to be able to do international bank transfers, which requires a bank account to be set up for you in the UK. (You can speak to one of our trusted cross-border financial experts at FinGlobal today to start that process!)


The right professionals, at the right time.

While we can’t help you fill out the paperwork that you need to apply for a visa to the UK, or help you pack up your family and possessions and migrate to the UK, we can handle all the stress and headaches that come with moving your finances abroad to the UK.


What to expect when you immigrate to the UK.

You’re going to miss home. That much is to be expected. Just hang in there, and remember why you made the move in the first place. It’s not easy, but it is worth it. Connecting with other expats is advisable, especially as so many South Africans already live in the UK. There are specialist South African shops for you to get your fix of Mrs. Balls chutney, Milo, Bovril and all the other things that taste like home. Do your best to immerse yourself in the culture, enjoy the free museums and galleries, and revel in the adventures of an unexplored city on your doorstep.

As you get ready to make the move to the UK and you’re packing belongings and furniture, and making lists, don’t forget about your finances. Get in touch with FinGlobal to start working on a financial solution for your future as a South African expat living in the UK. Getting your financial affairs straightened out in South Africa and set up to support your new life in the UK should be a priority, so make sure you get the best cross-border financial specialist company to help you every step of the way.


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