Emigrating to the UK? These are the 4 most accessible visas to get into the UK

One of my most popular blog series over the past year has been The Honest Expat. Every time I publish another expat interview my stats skyrocket as South Africans dig a bit deeper into what it is really like to emigrate across the world. And it’s no surprise. Emigrating is a hot topic at the moment!

With South Africa’s political and socio-economic future mired in uncertainty, thanks to the raucous land debate and a seemingly never-ending slew of corruption scandals, it feels like even more South Africans are weighing up their options and seriously considering emigrating to the UK.

According to Ryan Rennison, managing director of UK visa solutions experts, Move Up, 2018 will go down as a record-breaking year for South Africans leaving the country.

emigrating to the uk

Considering the popularity of the topic of emigration and emigrating to the UK a popular choice, I thought I would ask him to expand on the 4 easiest visas to apply for that open the door to settlement rights in the UK.


With the UK now one of the most desirable places to live in the world, unless you have clear ancestral rights to live in the UK, or you understand the other visa options available to you, it can be very difficult to move there permanently” – Ryan Rennison


UK Visas: 4 of the most accessible visa options available to South Africans looking to emigrate


1. Birth Rights

If your parents or grandparents hail from England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland and you have access to their birth certificates, you could be eligible for a British passport or an ancestral visa.

A British passport gives you permanent citizenship rights, while an ancestral visa allows you to live in the UK for up to 5 years, with the option to apply for indefinite leave to remain – and, eventually, a British passport.

Visit the Move Up website for a free birth certificate evaluation or to get in touch with someone that can help you locate your relative’s birth certificate.

2. Marriage Rights

If your spouse has a British passport or is eligible to apply for an ancestral visa, you can relocate to the UK after obtaining a spousal visa. Usually a spousal visa takes 3 months to process, but it is possible to pay an additional fee to expedite the process. It’s important to note that you cannot convert a visitor visa to a spousal visa while you’re in the UK: spousal visas must be applied for from your country of permanent residence.

Move Up advises that spousal visa applicants begin collecting evidence of their monogamous relationship as soon as possible, since the Home Office will eventually investigate the legitimacy of the relationship. Shared utility bills, transcripts of emails and WhatsApp messages and evidence that you rely on one another financially all count towards proving the authenticity of your relationship.

3. Points-Based System

If birth and marriage rights do not apply to you, the next best way to qualify to live and work in the UK is to qualify for their points-based visa system.

The point based system makes a variety of provisions for business owners, investors and individuals with specific skills: the UK government recently expressed interest in attracting people with special skills into the country including doctors, nurses, fashion designers and film and television professionals.

Highly skilled individuals in the fields of science, humanities, engineering, digital technology and the arts are already on their priority list.

4. Non-Points-Based Visas

For those who don’t qualify for any of the above visas, there are a collection of more unique visas the UK has on offer to cater for the exceptional human beings that live among us.

This category applies to highly talented sportsmen and women, as well as academics who hold a PhD in science, engineering, the humanities, medicine, digital technology or the arts, and those who are considered (established or emerging) leaders in their field.

Breaking News: Beat the NHS Price Hike

The UK government is set to double the immigration health surcharge (IHS) on 1 December 2018, making it even more expensive for South Africans to relocate to the UK.

The surcharge allows anyone in the UK on a work, study or family visa for longer than 6 months to access the National Health Service (NHS) in the same way as UK citizens.

While individual applicants for the UK’s increasingly popular ancestral visa are currently required to pay £1,000 (about R19,000) upfront to cover their 5-year settlement period, come 1 December 2018 they will need to fork out £2,000 (about R38,000) for the same IHS,” says Ryan Rennison, managing director of UK visa solutions experts, Move Up. “This radical cost increase could be a barrier to South Africans being able to afford to immigrate to the UK,” he adds.

To assist ancestral visa applicants to beat the IHS price hike, Move Up is offering an expedited service for ‘last minute’ cases lodged between 1 – 20 November 2018.

Applicants are urged to try Move Up’s free birth certificate assessment to prevent delays around visa applications.

Move Up has represented 150 unique entry clearance applications, of which they have seen over 135 of those cases awarded with visas – that’s a 90% success rate!

For more information regarding UK visa applications, visit www.moveup.co.za or call 021 761 4608.



Are you a wannabe expat be sure to read these interviews with South African expats around the world.


Kathryn Rossiter

Kathryn is a South African lifestyle blogger and mom of 2 who has been blogging daily for over 9 years! She writes about travel, health, beauty, fashion, decor and family... but not food (unless it's food she's eaten made by someone else) as she is a hopeless cook. She only wakes up early for 2 things... a red-eye flight to somewhere exotic and early morning game drives. She has just finished an extensive home renovation and would prefer to never see another box again. She's never met a chocolate or glass of bubbles that she didn't like!

  1. Afternoon, i would obviously need a job in order to relocate firstly .My grandparents were British .My mother is in Scotland we are istranged from each other,would rather be up front and honest .I actually dont know where to begin with this process and costs involved .I believe i have to acquire British citizen first .Greatly appreciate your input .Many thanx .Trisha
    Lezar .

  2. A really helpful guide to moving to the UK – love this post! I have lived in the UK all my life but last year moved to China and I do always miss the hustle and bustle of London and the beauty of the countryside! Thanks for reminding me of home 🙂

  3. I was norn in England and wish to relocate. To whom can I email to find out what benefits i5am entitled to.

  4. I had no idea the NHS IHS is going up again in December. I’m glad my Aussie husband and I managed to move back just before!

  5. Being from Ireland I don’t need the Visas thankfully, well not yet at least. This is probably one of the easiest and most informative articles I’ve seen on UK entry visas, I’ll definitely be sharing with some interested friends.

  6. Hi. I qualified as a dentist in South Africa in 2005. I would like to relocate to the UK. Do i still have to write an exam before I can register or work as a dentist in the UK?

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