Windhoek, July 20 — The UK Government has announced that all Namibian nationals will now require visas before travelling to the UK, including for visits. The decision was revealed in a press statement issued on 19 July 2023.
The move to impose a visa regime comes in response to a sustained and significant increase in UK asylum applications from Namibian nationals at the UK border since 2016. This rise has been deemed an abuse of the provision that allows non-visa nationals to visit the UK for a limited period.
The changes are effective immediately and will apply to all Namibian nationals travelling to the UK. However, a four-week transition period until 15:00 BST on 16 August 2023 will allow Namibian nationals holding confirmed tickets booked before 19 July 2023 to travel to the UK without a visa as non-visa nationals.
British High Commissioner to Namibia, Charles Moore, expressed understanding of the concerns of Namibian nationals affected by the visa imposition. He stated that the significant increase in asylum claims from Namibian nationals arriving at the UK border necessitated these new measures. The UK government has been in regular discussions with the Government of the Republic of Namibia regarding asylum applications and will continue to collaborate on the return of those nationals deemed ineligible for asylum in the United Kingdom.
The visa requirement brings Namibia in line with many other visa-national countries, including several Commonwealth partners, with whom the UK maintains warm and friendly relations. The introduction of visas is intended to provide controlled access to the UK and prevent the abuse of non-visa provisions at the border.
The UK Government has increased the capacity of the Visa Application Centre in Windhoek to facilitate the processing of visitor visa applications in Namibia.
Namibian nationals who have already booked travel to the UK before 15:00 BST on 19 July 2023 will still be eligible to enter the UK without a visa until 15:00 BST on 16 August 2023. However, any passengers arriving after the specified time on 16 August 2023 will require a visa, regardless of when their travel was booked. Additionally, anyone booking their flight after 15:00 BST on 19 July 2023 will need access to enter the UK, regardless of their arrival date.
Current Namibian visitors in the UK will not be affected by these changes. However, they will need a visitor visa for any future visits after leaving the UK. It is worth noting that Namibian nationals are already required to obtain a visa for other non-visit purposes, such as for work or study, and the application process for these visas will continue as before.
The Government of the Republic of Namibia, through the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation, has acknowledged the UK’s announcement regarding the new visa requirements for Namibian nationals visiting and transiting the UK. The Namibian Cabinet has established a committee to examine this matter further to ensure the decision does not adversely affect Namibian residents. The government has called on its citizens to remain calm while the committee deliberates on the issue. -Namibia Daily News