SA’s revised visa rules: What you need to know

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South African Visa regulations have come under heavy scrutiny both locally and international since the changes in May 2014.

South Africa is overhauling its controversial visa regulations that saw a 6% decrease in arrivals, the worst industry performance since 2009 at the height of the global financial crisis, however the changes are not in effect as yet.

Introduced in June 2015, the new rules required visitors to apply for visas in person at South African embassies worldwide and have their biometric information. This is only applicable to outbound travelers.

This is including biometric information taken for children to provide the unabridged birth certificate when exiting South Africa.

Here’s what you need to know about the department of home affairs changes to SA’s visa rules:

  • In countries where there is no South African mission, the department of home affairs will accept applications by post, however this rule will apply only for tourist and medical visitors.
  • Postal applications will see biometrics of travelers, including finger prints and photos, captured on arrival at ports of entry.
  • Biometric pilot site ports of entry are OR Tambo Airport, King Shaka Airport and Cape Town International Airport.
  • Countries like China, India and Russia, certain measures will be put in place to ease the process of application, in particular for tourists.
  • South African children travelling out of the country will still be required to submit the current child-travel requirements, including a parental consent affidavit as a means to protect the minors. The validity of this affidavit will be extended to no longer than 6 months.
  • On 29 January 2016, the Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba, approved the granting of 10-year multiple entry visas to frequent business and academic travelers from Africa.
  • Over the last 2 months’ phases have followed the Cabinet decision to amend the strict visa regulations to travel in and out of SA. The decision was made to grant frequent business and academic travelers multiple entry visitor’s visa for a period exceeding three months and up to three years. For business people and academics from Africa, the Multiple Entry Visitor’s Visa will be valid for 10 years.
  • Chinese tourists travelling to South Africa can now have their visitor’s visa applications submitted by certain accredited tour operators and no longer have to do so in person. The Department of Home Affairs is working in collaboration with the National Department of Tourism to identify similar accredited organisations in Russia and India; however at the time of writing, all other nationalities were still required to submit their visitor’s visa applications in person.

Should you have any queries or questions regarding the aforementioned visa amendments, please contact us Visa Immigration SA or email us.