Before 2009, South Africans were able to travel to the United Kingdom without a visa. However, due to passport fraud, the British Home Office decided to introduce a visa requirement for South Africans in March 2009. The UK claimed that it had become too easy for people from other countries, including terrorists, to obtain South African passports fraudulently and enter the UK illegally.
In 2009, The Telegraph reported that over 6000 immigrants entered the UK through illegitimately obtained South African passports. Introducing the visa requirement for South African passport holders was then seen as the only solution to this problem since a visa application involves a more thorough background check on the applicant.
There were fears that South Africa would also introduce a visa requirement for Britons visiting South Africa in retaliation to the UK’s decision. However, that did not happen. Britons still enjoy visa-free travel to South Africa.
The UK’s visa requirement has made it difficult and more expensive for South Africans to travel to that country. The South African government wants the UK to revise its decision. Earlier this year South African officials had negotiations with the British government to try and convince it that South African passports now meet international security standards.
On Wednesday the Democratic Alliance (DA) reported that it had secured support for visa-free travel to the UK from the British Home Office. Tim Harris, Shadow Minister of Finance, said “Last week I met with Jeremy Browne, Minister of State in the British Home Office, to motivate for the relaxation of visa requirements for South Africans travelling to the United Kingdom. During a meeting at the Annual Conference of Liberal Democrats, Minister Browne agreed to look into the re-introduction of visa-free travel to the UK for South Africans in the interest of trade, investment and tourism. He has committed to working with the DA to move the issue forward.”
Two weeks ago Independent Online reported that there had been progress in visa negotiations with the British government although South Africans still needed visas to travel to the UK. How long the negotiations will take is still unknown. However, if they pan out, South Africans may enjoy visa-free entry to the UK again in future.