26 February 2013

South Africa aims to regain UK visa free travel

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The South African government has announced plans to open talks with the British Government in the hopes of reinstating UK visa free travel for its passport holders.

UK visa

The South African government believes it has done enough to regain its UK visa exempt-status.

South African passport holders currently require a UK visa to visit Britain after their visa exemption status was revoked in 2008 following reports of corruption in South Africa's Department of Home Affairs.

The department was accused of issuing passports to criminals and asylum seekers - even to those not native to South Africa - which then allowed these undesirables to enter the UK without check.

The decision to revoke the country's status and reintroduce visa requirements came after a UK court heard 6,000 illegal immigrants from Asia had been brought into the UK on South African passports. The country’s status was then revoked and placed on the Government's 'hit list'.

But now the South African government claims it has made changes to its passport issuing processes and stamped out corruption within its ranks and is ready to resume its partnership with the UK.

"We now have one of the world's safest passports that cannot be forged," said Mkuseli Apleni, SA's Home Affairs director-general.

"The process of issuing passports is more credible and has stringent checks and balances to ensure applicants are genuinely South African."

Mr Apleni said new technology in place at all international airports in South Africa ensured that all South African passport holders' fingerprints were checked and verified before being allowed to leave or re-enter the country.

The director general said he was confident these new measures would be enough to satisfy the British Government.

The UK Visa Bureau is an independent immigration consultancy specialising in helping people prepare for their UK Ancestry Visa application.

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