A recent report by American think tank, Pew Research found that there are at least 900,000 people born in South Africa were currently living in other countries in 2017.
For these South Africans, the United Kingdom was the destination of choice, with 210,000 migrants.
Speaking to BusinessTech, Breytenbachs Immigration Consultants explained that the United Kingdom has always been a very popular destination for South Africans who decided to move overseas.
“This can probably be found in the fact that it is relatively easy for South Africans to adapt to the English way of life. South African businesses also tend to find their feet relatively easy, and easily adapt to the way business is done,” it said.
“This, together with the fact that there is a large South African community settled in the UK, and the relative ease to commute between the two countries, make the UK a popular immigration destination for South Africans.”
Breytenbachs noted that the UK’s Immigration legislation is also not unfriendly towards South Africans looking to move to the UK.
“There are of course many family-related visas with which South Africans with UK or EU ties can move to the UK. This includes the UK Ancestry Visa and the EEA Family Visa. Most South Africans are, however, not lucky enough to have these ties and have to look at other business or work-related visas.”
While a wide variety of visas are available, Breytenbachs outlined four of the most popular business/work related visas among South Africans below.
Sole Representative Visa
The Sole Representative Visa allows a South African business to establish a business presence in the UK. It allows the South African (or other overseas) company to send one key individual to the UK to establish a wholly owned subsidiary or UK branch for the overseas company.
Advantages of this visa are that there is no need for the involvement of a UK employer or specific start-up capital to qualify under this immigration category.
To qualify as the Sole Representative of the company, the employee must be a senior employee and intend to be employed full time, with full authority to take operational decisions on behalf of the firm.
The applicant may be a shareholder in the overseas firm, but not a majority shareholder. Many South African Companies are using this route to expand their businesses into the UK and provide an immigration route to their sole representitive.
Tier 1 Entrepreneur
The Tier 1 Entrepreneur immigration visa provides an opportunity to invest monies in the United Kingdom in a business you set-up, or buy into a business that is already a going concern.
Applicants in this category need to invest in the United Kingdom by setting up, or take over, and being actively involved in the running of one or more businesses in the UK.
One of the main attractions of the Tier 1 Entrepreneur immigration route is that it offers the opportunity for persons to form an entrepreneurial team. This will thus make it easier to qualify, than applying on your own. The £200,000 investment funds for the application are thus shared, subject, of course, to strict criteria.
The entrepreneurial team and all dependants on this visa can qualify for settlement in the UK after five years.
It is also possible to apply for settlement earlier, in cases where the team can create ten jobs. An example is where they created three jobs in the first year, 3 in the second year, and four in the third year. They can also qualify for the earlier settlement if they have a turnover of £5 million in three years.
Tier 1 Investor
The Tier 1 Investor immigration route is available to high net worth individuals making a substantial financial investment in the United Kingdom.
The applicant has to have money of his/her own, under his/her control, held in a regulated financial institution and disposable in the UK, amounting to no less than £2 million. The applicant also needs to have opened an account with a UK regulated bank to invest no less than £2 million in the UK, with a choice of various instruments that can be invested in.
Due to the high investment required, it is however not a viable option for most South Africans.
Tier 2 Skilled Worker
The Tier 2 Skilled Worker visa is very popular amongst South Africans. This visa, however, requires sponsorship from a UK employer, and one cannot apply for the visa without the involvement of a UK employer.
The Tier 2 visa applicant has to fulfill certain skill requirements, and have to have a skilled job offer from a UK employer (Certificate of Sponsorship from a licensed UK employer).
The UK Home Office recently announced that doctors and nurses will be removed from the Tier 2 Skilled Worker Visa cap. This step will not only benefit the doctors and nurses but will open up spaces for other skilled workers to come and work in the UK.
As a result, hundreds of places will be freed every month for other skilled workers applying for the restricted Certificates of Sponsorship, including; engineers, IT professionals, teachers and others, Breytenbachs said.
You can find the full list of requirements on Breytenbachs’ website here.