Experts at a UK immigration agency, Globalvisas.com, believe unfair treatment is causing South Africans to reject the UK in favour of pastures new and more welcoming.
Liam Clifford, MD of Globalvisas.com, points out that over the last few years, South Africans have been subjected to ever tighter UK immigration controls. These include increased requirements to qualify for Skilled Working visas, the removal of UK Working Holiday visas, more stringent controls over student visas and now – the final blow – a charge of £50 to wait in their domestic airports while flying on to another country.
A 10-year multiple entry visitor visa costs £500, while a Skilled Working visa (Tier 1) costs £680, which means South Africans pay more for a visa than a flight.
Globalvisas.com has assisted over 500 000 South Africans to emigrate over the last 15 years. Liam Clifford says: "During this time, the UK has benefited greatly from South African talent as our top graduates have been 'brain-drained' for years. Now that our economy is shaky, the UK government is treating South Africans appallingly."
Global Visas has noticed a tangible South African boycott of the UK in favour of countries including Australia, Canada and the US.
Clifford adds: "Individuals have endured unacceptable treatment as systems have failed to work properly, meaning some people have lost their visa fees through no fault of their own. Problems have occurred at the hands of VFS Global, the private company employed to issue visas in South Africa, and the shortcomings of the UK immigration department and its appointed agent have resulted in South Africans seeking to go elsewhere.
"It is heinous that South Africans are losing their money and, often, the opportunity of a lifetime to travel to the UK, without any chance of an appeal.
"The way UK Plc is treating South Africans may finally bring to an end a long-standing love affair, as South Africans look to new destinations which offer a warm welcome and friendship."