The introduction of the British visa has quickly become a major issue for South Africans travelling to the UK, where previously they enjoyed a freedom of travel, being allowed in and out as they wished for a stay of up to 6 months. The new changes made sure that South Africans now need to apply for a visa to enter the United Kingdom for any stay, and in most cases, even we’ll even need a visa to transit London on the way to other countries. Here are some basic questions and answers with some guidelines on how it all works and how you can apply.
Do I need a transit visa to go via Britain?
The general rule is that anyone transiting a UK airport (even if you don’t leave the airport) will require a visa if they travel on a South African passport. There are a handful of exceptions, some of them are not of much use for us, eg if your final destination is Australia or New Zealand, but who in their right mind would be travelling to Australia from South Africa via London? Others are of a lot more help to us: if you hold a visa for the USA or Canada and you’re not leaving the transit area of the airport in London and are continuing on within 24 hours to that destination, you don’t need a transit visa for Britain.
Which agency should I use for a UK visa application?
The answer is simple for that question, you can only use one agency. The British High Commission has appointed the Visa Forwarding Service (or VFS for short) to process the applications. No other agency may process visas for the United Kingdom at all, so watch out for fraudsters who will tell you they can help! Be aware too that you will need to apply in person at your local VFS office as biometric data needs to be taken (fingerprints, a digital photograph, retinal scan) when you apply.
How much does the UK visa application cost?
The cost varies for the type of visa you’re applying for, it also varies according the the exchange rate. The regular 6 month single or multiple entry visa will currently cost you around R805 for business and leisure travellers alike. There are other visas for those who don’t wish to apply every six month if they travel regularly, eg the 2 years, 5 years and 10 years validity visas, costing R2645, R4830 & R7015 respectively.
How long does the UK visa take to process?
The British Visa takes between 5 and 10 working days to process, VFS do warn that during busy times, the length of wait could be longer. So, for Christmas and the British summer months, maybe apply a little longer in advance. We suggest applying between 1 and 2 months before to ensure your application proceeds smoothly with all the correct documents and you get it back in time for your trip.
What documents does the UK require for visa applications?
VFS provides a comprehensive check-list of requirements, which includes: a valid passport, completed & signed online application form, proof you’ve paid for the visa in advance and a passport sized photograph. If you’ve got any additional supporting documents, ensure you submit photo-copies as well as originals with your application – the High Commission may want to keep hold of the photo copies for their records, they won’t make copies themselves, so to ensure you get your documents back, pop in the copies.
What are the steps I can expect to take to apply for the UK visa?
- Apply online to make an appointment
- Print out and complete the forms
- Pay the fee either into the bank account provided or by credit card
- Submit your application with all supporting documents in person at your local VFS office at the date & time of your appointment
- Track your application’s status online
- Return to collect documents when status shows approved (you can pay extra to to have VFS sms you)
For more information please refer to http://www.visa4uk.fco.gov.uk/ and for the latest SA sports, olympics news and reviews visit www.capedreams.co.za