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How many South Africans were granted British citizenship last year?

by John Dunn | Aug 03, 2017
  • Every year the Home Office releases statistics of the number of applicants who were successfully granted British citizenship. It’s no surprise that South Africa features highly on this list. The UK has long been one of the favourite emigration destinations for South Africans. Let’s take a look at why British citizenship remains such a popular choice for South Africans.
    SA and UK flag

    First, the numbers

    The number of applicants for British citizenship decreased by 13% from 2015 to 2016, with the UKVI receiving a total of 130,646 applicants last year. Notwithstanding this, the top five nationalities that were granted UK citizenship in 2016 were:


    Why have one passport, when you can have two?

    Fortunately, if you are a South African citizen, you are allowed to hold two nationalities and can reside outside of the Republic for lengthy periods and still retain your citizenship. Remember though, you will have to obtain permission from the Minister of Home Affairs if you are over the age of 18 and want to apply for dual citizenship.

    Before you apply for your British citizenship, you should also apply for the Retention of South African citizenship as it will safeguard your dual status.

    Do note: If you are a South African resident (i.e. not a citizen), you can have your residency status cancelled if you are out of South Africa for more than three years.

    Can you apply for British citizenship?

    You could be eligible for British citizenship if you were:

    • Born to a mother who was born in the UK before 1983
    • Born before 1983 to a parent who was born after 1949, as long as that parent was a British citizen or had a parent who was born in the UK
    • Born in South Africa after 31 May 1962, but before 1983, and you have a UK-born grandparent
    • Born after 1948, to parents married before 1949, and your paternal grandfather (your dad’s dad) was born in the UK
    • Born between 2 March 1970 and 18 April 1980 in (Southern) Rhodesia and have a grandfather born in the UK

    If you are a South African in the UK who holds indefinite leave to remain (ILR), you could be eligible for British citizenship. Depending on your situation, obtaining British citizenship could be massively useful as it can open opportunities for you and your family.

    Don’t leave it to chance, seek out professional advice

    British nationality laws are extraordinarily complex, but going through a recognised immigration and citizenship expert will help the process run smoothly.

    Find a consultant who is willing to guide you every step of the way and you’ll save yourself time, stress and, most of the time, a whole lot of money.

    Our sister company, Sable International, offers a free UK citizenship assessment. Complete it today to find out if you qualify. If you’d like to make contact, give us a call on +44 (0) 20 7759 7527 or +27 (0) 21 657 2180. Alternatively, you can send us an email on

    We are a professional services company that specialises in cross-border financial and immigration advice and solutions.

    Our teams in the UK, South Africa and Australia can ensure that when you decide to move overseas, invest offshore or expand your business internationally, you’ll do so with the backing of experienced local experts.

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