SA gives BRICS port of entry visas

By Drum Digital
26 February 2015

Business and diplomatic travellers from South Africa's BRICS partners will receive port of entry visas into the country, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said on Thursday.

"I have approved the issuance of port of entry visas to BRICS business executives for up to 10 years, with each visit not to exceed 30 days," he told the Cape Town Press Club.

The visas had been in effect since December 23 last year.

"This applies to diplomatic, official/service, and ordinary passport holders."    

Gigaba said the relevant individuals would receive a long-term visa allowing them multiple entry into the country for the duration of the passport's validity, not exceeding 10 years.

The department would continue to meet a turnaround time of five days for short-term business visas.

It had consulted extensively with the Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS) business council and the trade and industry department.

Gigaba said the four countries presented an "important investment potential". Together with South Africa, they comprised 40 percent of the world's population.

"Business people from Brazil, Russia, India, and China want to come to our country, buy and sell an increasing array of products and services, and invest in our companies and growth sectors," he said.

"At home affairs we are completely committed to enabling this by facilitating the efficient entry of these commercial visitors, and will continually look for opportunities to improve in this regard."

The department had not demanded reciprocal arrangements from BRICS partners.

Gigaba smiled when asked if his announcement would anger countries that had long-established trading relationships with South Africa.

"No, every good thing must start somewhere," he said.

The arrangement may well be extended to other countries which had "significant investments" locally.

"These are issues that you undertake as you improve your systems."

He said a "trusted traveller system" would be available to business people outside BRICS.

Leisure travellers could extend their visa while in the country, but needed to return home if required to apply for a new visa.

These new regulations had been introduced to counter a "complete abuse" of the local immigration system, which had seen people apply for jobs while on a tourist visa to avoid police clearance and issues with financial statements.

Gigaba said he would soon announce a panel of experts to conduct a complete review of the system used to issue visas.

-SAPA

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