I am travelling to the UK from South Africa for 6 months. Family in the UK are able to support me for the duration of my stay.

I want to work, just as 6 months is a long time to visit only, and being on a gap year I want to have a good, full CV for uni etc.

However, I hear very few South africans have managed to get a temporary work visa, and it is a lot of money for me in comparison to the standard visitor visa.

If my work visa gets rejected, will I have to pay again for the Standard Visa? Or can I just get downgraded to a visitor visa?

I understand you have to have a 'sponsor' or job offer there to be able to apply for the Work Visa, but what do they require from that company? How does it differ if I work for a volunteer organisation?

Many thanks for the help!

  • 1
    The UK has a youth mobility scheme (formerly working holiday) but it looks like South African citizens are not eligible. Work visas (including for charity/volunteer work) must be sponsored, so you need to apply for and get the job first and then the organisation will help you apply for the visa. The UK government has a list of licensed sponsors on its website.
    – user16259
    Mar 6, 2018 at 15:01
  • 4
    I suspect, but I don't know, that a failed application for a work visa may be a problem if you subsequently apply for a standard visa for the same period, as they will suspect you are trying to work under the table. Mar 6, 2018 at 15:20

1 Answer 1


After entering, you would not be able to change your status from the visitor to the employment category from within the country. While South African nationals may be allowed to remain in the UK for a maximum 6 months, visa conditions impose strict employment restrictions.

You can only work in the UK with the proper authorization and require a certificate from a licensed sponsor before you can apply to work, whether it be for compensation to do unpaid voluntary work for a charity.

Fees are not refunded when a visa is refused.

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