Visa-free travel for South Africans to UK not quite in reach

The Royal Commonwealth Society and the South African Chamber of Commerce UK have spearheaded a campaign to reinstate visa-free travel for South Africans travelling to the UK.

A petition launched on the eve of 2 November aimed at collecting 10 000 signatures, had secured 9 000 of these by 22 November. One of the reasons cited in the petition to reconcile the UK-South Africa visa concord included the sharp decline of South African traveller numbers to the UK, estimated at 100 000 since 2008 when South Africans had to start applying for UK visas in order to travel to that country. This has as a result limited opportunities for business, leisure and family travel.

“There are 200 000 South Africans living in the UK and we want as many of you to sign our petition urging both the UK and South African governments to find a solution,” read the petition.

The petition would then be delivered to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party Theresa May. South Africa’s British High Commission spokesperson Isabel Potgieter has however stated that there were no plans yet for changes to be made to the UK visa, but that the UK government continues to review its visa requirements regularly while working closely with the South African government on migration and border security issues.

In the interim, following the events of Brexit, the South African government is looking at multiple-entry visas for SA business travellers and complete exemptions for SA leisure travellers.

South Africa’s Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba, confirmed that his ministry was in dialogue with the EU.

“We have mandated the SA-EU bilateral dialogue to work on time-frames for such a discussion and target 2017 March,” Malusi said.

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