South Africans will have to get a visa to visit Britain as part of an overhaul of immigration rules to tackle people smuggling and terrorism, the Government is expected to announce.
Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, is due to outline the new rules to MPs in the House of Commons, six months after the Home Office threatened the move unless South Africa implemented new security measures.
It comes amid fears that people smugglers and terrorist groups could exploit weaknesses in the South African passport system to get into Britain.
Such a move would come as a blow to the more than 400,000 South Africans who come to Britain every year - one of the largest groups of overseas visitors to the country.
In common with US, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand citizens, people from South Africa can come to Britain as tourists for up to six months as long as their passport is valid for that length of time.
But Whitehall officials fear that the country could potentially become a staging post for al-Qaeda terrorists hoping to come to the UK.
They believe it is too easy for non-South Africans to obtain a South African passport allowing them enter Britain without further checks.
The Home Office threatened to impose visa requirements on people from South African last summer unless the country tightened up procedures within six months.
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