Updated: 01 July 2015
The introduction of the British visa has quickly become a major issue for South Africans travelling to the UK, where previously we enjoyed freedom of border crossing, being allowed in and out as we 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 many cases, we 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 for a UK visa.
Do I need a transit visa to travel via the UK?
The general rule is that anyone transiting a UK airport (even if you don’t leave the airport) require a transit visa if they travel on a South African passport. There are a handful of exceptions, some of which are not much use to us, e.g. 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 Teleperformance to process all UK Visa applications in South Africa. No other agency may process visas for the United Kingdom at all, all others only offer advice and assistance but will still send you to Teleperformance to apply. Be aware too that you will need to apply in person at your local Teleperformance office as biometric data needs to be taken 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 R1700 (July 2015) for business and leisure travellers alike. There are other visas for those who don’t wish to apply every six months if they travel regularly, e.g. the 2 years, 5 years and 10 years validity visas, costing R6480, R11760 & R14740 respectively.
How long does the UK visa take to process?
There’s no official time-frame mentioned anywhere but it usually takes about 2 weeks. For Christmas and the British summer months, we’d advise applying a little longer in advance. We suggest applying between 1 and 2 months before you depart to ensure your application proceeds smoothly with all the correct documents and you get it back in time for your trip. There is a priority visa fee one can pay to get the visa done within 5 days which costs £120 (approx R2300 on 01 July 2015 exchange rates).
What documents does the UK require for visa applications?
Teleperformance request that you bring printed copies of your appointment confirmation and online application form, your passport, and any other documents you want considered. You can also double-check the documents against the official government site.
What are the steps I can expect to take to apply for the UK visa?
- Find out what visa you need on the UK government site.
- Book your appointment online using the same site and take note of the “GWF number” they provide. You’ll be emailed confirmation too.
- Register your details on Teleperformance’s site.
- Purchase any optional extras (like rush fees or courier services)
- Prepare the documents you need (copies of your appointment confirmation, passport and any other supporting documentation.
- Attend your appointment. If you are late, you forfeit your fee. Also, once you’ve attended your appointment, if your visa is denied, the amount you paid online is not refundable.
- You will be contacted by email once your passport is returned to Teleperformance.
The above information is subject to change without notice, it was correct at time of publishing, we cannot vouch for it’s continued accuracy. It is imperative that you get up to date and accurate information as well as make the UK visa application via the gov.uk website, and use the Teleperformance website when for booking your appointment.