Most popular ways to immigrate to the UK from Africa

UK Flag and Africa

Choosing to emigrate to the United Kingdom can be a life-changing but exciting decision. Not only does it have the worlds 6th largest economy, but is known for its diverse culture, sport and scenery. The UK more than ever is looking for skilled workers across the African continent to help fill skill shortages in sectors such as healthcare and engineering.

The UK welcomed over 1.2 million new arrivals in the year ending March 2023, most of which on long-term immigration visas. Nigerian, Zimbabwean and Ghanaian nationals made up the largest group from Africa in terms of Work visas and Study visas. 48,480 Africans moved to the UK last year on a Health and Care Worker visa, which represents around 48% of the applicants worldwide. The results of the 2021 UK Census show that 4.2% of people living in England and Wales are from African descent.

Most Popular Work VIsas

African nationals represent 29% of the new arrivals in 2022 who came to the UK on work visas for up to several years. After 5 years of living and working in the UK, you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain which is the first step to Permanent Residency.

Health and Care Worker

The Health and Care Worker visa is the most popular visa for African nationals with 48,480 visas granted to the year ending March 2023. Nigerian nationals made up 17,596 followed by Zimbabweans on 17,421 and Ghanaians on 5,660. This visa allows healthcare professionals such as doctors, nurses, midwifes and care and socials workers, to work in the UK for up to 5 years. You must have a job offer and meet the minimum salary for your occupation. You will need to pass an English language test when applying for this visa. The advantage of this visa over others is that it is exempt from paying a Immigration Health Surcharge of £624 to have access to the NHS, saving thousands of pounds over 5 years.

Skilled Worker

Skilled Worker Visa

The Skilled Worker visa is the second most popular visa for African nationals with 7,575 visas granted to the year ending March 2023. This visa is the main route for immigrants looking to work in the UK outside healthcare. This visa allows skilled foreign workers on the shortage occupations list to work in the UK for up to 5 years. You will need to find an approved employer to sponsor you who will meet the minimum salary requirement for the occupation. You will need to prove you can speak, read, write and understand English to a minimum standard by passing an English language test.


This will differ by visa, but after you have submitted your online application, proved your identity and provided the relevant documents, 90% of applicants are processed within 3 weeks.

Studying in the UK

Student Visa

The Student Visa is the main pathway for people looking to study in the UK. Nigerian nationals represent 79% of the new student arrivals from Africa in 2022. There were 72,683 sponsored study visas granted to African nationals in the year ending March 2023. 57,636 were Nigerians nationals who increased their share by 83% from the previous 12 months. Applicants must be over 16 and study an approved course at an approved institution such as a university. This visa allows you to study in the UK for up to 5 years in which you can work up to 20 hours per week.

How much money should I save

The amount of money to save when planning a move to the UK will vary from person to person, having your finances planned correctly is one of the most important aspects of moving to the UK. How much is a visa? Do I have to pay the NHS Surcharge upfront? Do I need to prove I speak English?

Visa Application Fee

  • Health and Care Worker – £247 – £479
  • Skilled Worker – £625 – £1235
  • Student Visa – £363


  • Health and Care Worker – Exempt, including dependents
  • Skilled Worker – £624 per year
  • Student Visa – £624 per year

Other Possible Fees

  • English Language Test – £180
  • Tuberculosis Test – £30 – £100
  • Criminal Record Certificate – £20 – £100
  • Proof of Finances – £1,270

Can I bring my family?

Health and Care Worker, Skilled Worker and a Student visa allow family members to join the main applicant in the UK, who are known as “dependants”. You don’t have to be a permanent resident or have an Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK to bring your family members. Dependants over 18 can work full time in any profession throughout with no restrictions. The length of time allowed to stay is the same as the main applicants work visa.

  • Adult Dependant – £1846
  • One Child – £1846

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