Moving to the UK From South Africa

If you are considering moving to the UK from South Africa, you will no doubt have many questions about the immigration process, the cost of living here, how to relocate, and the ease of gaining employment. In this guide will explain all you need to know about immigration to the UK from South Africa, the costs of moving, how the cost of living in the UK and South Africa compare, the visa requirements, and the pros and cons of moving here.

Is it worth moving to the UK from South Africa?

The UK has been and continues to be an incredibly popular destination for citizens of South Africa for many decades. It is estimated that over 250,000 South Africans call the UK home, with most of them living in England. While South Africa is a beautiful country with much to offer, many South Africans are drawn to the UK for both work and family.

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south africa

If you are considering emigrating from the UK to South Africa, you will need to consider the immigration routes available to you. You will most likely need a UK visa before you can relocate to the UK from South Africa, and to make a successful application, you will need to meet the requirements of the visa you are applying for.

UK visa types and requirements for South Africans

The UK visa types available and requirements that you need to meet will depend on why you are moving to the UK (i.e. work, study, or join family). The most common UK visas for South African nationals include the following:

  • Skilled Worker visa – applicants must have a job offer from a UK employer. Only employers with a sponsor licence can employ foreign workers. You will need to ensure that you meet the minimum salary requirements and that your role is eligible for this visa.
  • Health and Care Worker visa – This is specifically for those who work in a health and care profession and who have an offer of a job with the NHS, an NHS supplier, or adult social care.
  • Family visa – if you have a spouse, partner, parent, or child living in the UK, you may be eligible for a family visa. The exact rules depend on your connection to your family member and their immigration status in the UK.
  • Innovator Founder visa – This visa is for those who wish to establish a business in the UK. To be eligible, you must have a business idea that is new, innovative, viable and scalable.

The above list of visas is by no means exhaustive. There are a wide range of other visas, including the UK Ancestry visa, Global Talent visa, and the Global Business Mobility visa. If you are unsure which visa is suitable for your needs, it is advisable to speak to an immigration Solicitor who can advise you based on your unique circumstances.

Moving to the UK from South Africa quick facts

  • You may need to pay a healthcare surcharge for you and your family members, which will allow you to access the NHS for primary and secondary care.
  • Given the compact size of the UK, it is extremely easy to travel around.
  • The UK is home to some of the best schools (state and private), colleges, and universities in the world (including the prestigious Russell Group universities).
  • The UK job market is strong and vibrant.
  • You must apply for a national insurance number when you arrive in the UK. This will allow you to work, and you are required to pay tax here.
  • The average salary in the UK is around £35,000.
  • There are many South African ex-pats in the UK who can help you navigate life here and feel at home.

Get in touch with our immigration experts for help with your move to the UK from South Africa

Pros and Cons of Moving to the UK from South Africa

There are many reasons to consider moving to the UK from South Africa. Firstly, there is so much to see and enjoy in the UK, including museums, architecture, history, theatres, pubs, entertainment, stunning villages and towns, lakes, rivers, mountains and national parks. The UK also has an excellent healthcare system (the National Health Service (NHS)), which provides cutting-edge healthcare for all residents. Another plus for the UK is its excellent transport network, which includes motorways, trains, buses, airports, ports, and even canals. This is why it is extremely easy to travel around the UK. From an educational standpoint, the options available are excellent. The UK is home to some of the best schools (state and private), colleges, and universities in the world, including the highly prestigious Russell Group universities.

Of course, there are some negatives to be aware of when moving to the UK from South Africa. It has to be said that the climate in the UK is generally much colder, milder and wetter compared to South Africa. Be prepared for cooler temperatures, especially in the winter months, and frequent rainfall throughout the year. The cost of living here is also much higher than in South Africa, as discussed below.

Cost of moving from South Africa to the UK

Before you make the move from South Africa to the UK, it is important to consider the total cost of:

  • International removals
  • Flights
  • Visa costs (for a Skilled Worker visa, the fee is £1,420 if staying for more than 3 years). Remember, you will need to consider the cost of visas for all of your family members who will be joining you).
  • Healthcare surcharge (£1,035 per year per person)
  • Renting or purchasing a property (if renting, you will normally need to pay a deposit of one month of rent). The average rent in the UK is £1,220 per month
  • Buying a new car
  • Buying new possessions, including furniture

Cost of living in the UK vs South Africa

The cost of living in the UK is much higher than in South Africa. One of the main reasons is the relatively high property and rental prices. Rental prices are a whopping 190% higher in the UK than in South Africa. This means that overall consumer prices in the UK are 113.3% higher than in South Africa when rent is factored in. In addition, restaurants are 123% more expensive, and grocery prices are almost double the cost in the UK compared to South Africa. To balance out the high cost of living in the UK, there are many highly paid job vacancies available to skilled workers.

How to open a bank account in the UK as a South African?

Once you arrive in the UK, you will be able to open a UK bank account. You will need evidence of a permanent address in the UK and your identity in order to open your new bank account. Most UK bank accounts can even be opened online.

What is the Self-Sponsored Route?

The Self-Sponsorship route provides a way for nationals of South Africa to move to and live in the UK without needing to work for an employer but rather by setting up their own company. One of the biggest benefits of the self-sponsorship route is that it provides a direct pathway to permanent settlement in the UK and, ultimately, citizenship. If you need any information on emigrating from South Africa to the UK, including on the self-sponsorship, speak to an immigration Solicitor who can guide you through the process.

A Y & J Solicitors is a specialist immigration law firm with extensive experience with all types of visa applications. We have an in-depth understanding of immigration law and are professional and results-focused. For assistance with your visa application or any other UK immigration law concerns, please contact us on +44 20 7404 7933 or at contact us today. We’re here to help!

Moving From South-Africa to the UK

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Moving From South-Africa to the UK

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