The most popular UK immigration options – for people that only have a South African passport

While some South Africans are fortunate enough to have access to an international passport, most are not lucky enough to have family ties and have to look at other options when moving to the UK.

Speaking to BusinessTech, JP Breytenbach, director of Breytenbachs Immigration Consultants, noted that there are a wide variety of visas available – however not all are popular options for emigrating locals.

He broke down some of the most popular business/work related visas available right now, focusing on those who only have access to a South African passport.


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, said Breytenbach.

“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 representative,” he said.


Tier 1 Entrepreneur

The Tier 1 Entrepreneur immigration visa provides a sensible 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, said Breytenbach.

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,” he said.

However, Breytenbach cautioned that one has to be very careful not to invest in businesses that have not been properly vetted.

“Breytenbachs Immigration Consultants can introduce entrepreneurs to other possible candidates, to form an entrepreneurial team,” he said.

“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 3 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 all South Africans,” said Breytenbach.


Tier 2 Skilled Worker

The Tier 2 Skilled Worker visa is  very popular amongst South Africans, said Breytenbach

“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 fulfil certain skill requirements, and have to have a skilled job offer from a UK employer (Certificate of Sponsorship from a licensed UK employer).

“The good news about the Tier 2 immigration route is that the UK Government is looking to expand this route to also include semi-skilled workers, when the UK leaves the EU,” he said.


Read: More South Africans are leaving their homes empty as they emigrate

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The most popular UK immigration options – for people that only have a South African passport