South African business travellers who want to visit the UK will be able to do so on a single visa, as part of new regulations coming into force at the start of April.
South Africans have been required to apply for a UK visa since 2009 when the British Government tightened the rules. It said the move was to tackle passport fraud and corruption.
However, Home Secretary Theresa May is tweaking the regulations as part of a drive to make the UK more attractive to business visitors. In practice, this means that South African business travellers who want to come to the UK for leisure purposes will be able to do so via a single UK visa.
Isabel Potgieter, from the British High Commission in Pretoria, said: “The changes will help simplify and streamline the visitor routes for businesses and leisure travellers, whilst the rebranding of the student visitor route will make it conceptually clearer for people who want to study on short term courses.
“The number of visitor routes will be consolidated from 15 to four as part of a simple new streamlined system for travellers to the UK.”
From April, South Africans can apply for visitor (standard); visitor (to hold marriage or civil partnership); visitor undertaking permitted paid engagements; and visitor transiting the UK visas.
Ms Potgieter said that the changes aimed to ensure people applied for the correct visa. It also means business travellers just need to apply for one visa if they are travelling to the UK for a combination of business and leisure.
She added: “Someone who already has a valid business visit visa can use that visa from April to come for a holiday.”