02 July 2009
New UK visa regime for those travelling from South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland
New visa requirements were introduced yesterday for people travelling to the UK from South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland.
People from these three countries will now need to get an entry clearance visa before travelling to the UK. Visitors will now be fingerprinted and checked against watch-lists before being issued with a visa to travel to the UK.
The new rules have been introduced by the UK Border Agency to counter passport and identity fraud, and follow Britain’s first global review of who needs a visa to travel to the UK for a short-term visit.
As well as South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland, visitors from Bolivia and Venezuela will now also need a visa to travel to the UK.
Nationals from more than 100 countries now require a visa, and the UK Border Agency has already collected more than four million fingerprints from people applying for visas worldwide.
The Border and Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said, "Already our shake-up of border security is delivering results, with fingerprint visas helping us catch thousands of people trying to hide their true identity or a criminal past.
"Today sees visa checks come into effect in the remaining countries that failed to pass our strict visa waiver test.
"I am determined that the UK Border Agency should continue to strengthen the border and 2009 is the year of delivery. As well as applying greater scrutiny to visitors, we are being more selective about who can work in the UK and coming down hard on rule breakers."
The widening of the countries that require a visa to visit the UK is just one of a raft of measures the UK Border Agency committed to delivering in 2009.
They have also tightened the points-based system for skilled migration, which the Government says has ensured migration matches the country's needs during these hard economic times. Employers also must now advertise all skilled 'tier 2' jobs to resident workers through JobCentre Plus before they can bring people in from outside Europe.
The Government has also toughened the criteria against which highly skilled migrants seeking entry to the United Kingdom are judged - raising the qualifications and salary level required for highly skilled workers to a Masters degree and a minimum salary of £20,000.
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The UK Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in UK visas and immigration services.