South Africa’s revised visa rules: Here’s all you need to know

2015-11-11 11:57

Visitors, temporary and premanent residence visa applications have been arduous.

As usual, people just hate Home Affairs. The South African government is doing an overhaul of its controversial visa rules which led to a decrease in arrivals of 6%, the worst performance since the global financial meltdown of 2009 although the changes have not yet been effected.

This comes after the Cabinet’s endorsement of the recommendations by IMC (Inter Ministerial Committee) that had been asked to evaluate the controversial immigration rules. It is expected that the changes will be implemented in the course of the next 3 months.

The controversial law, which was introduced in June, required that visitors coming into the country apply for visas at South African Embassy in person so that their biometric data could be captured. It also made it mandatory for parent of children coming into and out of the country to present an unabridged birth certificate detailing the particulars of both parents. Below is all you need to know regarding the SA visa rules changes by the Department of Home Affairs.

In countries with no South African Mission, the Home Affairs department will accept application done by post. However, this only applies to medical visitors and tourists. For applications done by post, applicants will be required to allow their biometric details to be captured upon arrival at the country’s port of entry. The Biometric pilot site ports of entry include King Shaka Airport, OR Tambo Airport, and Cape Town International Airport. For countries such as Russia, India and China, certain measures will be taken to ease application process especially for tourists.

Children from South Africa going out of the country are still required to submit current child travel requirements, and this includes parental consent affidavit which is meant to protect the children.m This affidavit’s validity will not be extended any longer than six months. Parent details will also be printed in passports. This way, parents whose details are printed would not need to carry with them birth certificates. The DHA however advises parents to carry this form to serve as proof.

In the case of those coming into the country, proof of original birth certificates will be required only during the process of application. This is the practise in most countries. (As happens with South African children who travel into and out of the country, the department of home affairs advises you still carry this form of identification and also reserves the right to investigates what it suspects to be child trafficking).

The Cabinet also endorsed the changing of the ‘Unabridged Birth Certificate’ term to birth certificate with parental details.

The DHA is seriously contemplating long-term multiple entry visas especially for frequent tourists. According to DHA, it has been mandated by the Cabinet to put in place necessary legislation to promulgate this decision. Meanwhile, the status quo remains until such a time that the DHA provides legal framework for this group of travellers. Tourists are encouraged to comply.

Let's hope that these changes actually bring some reprieve for those struggling in our constantly failing immigration system. The fact that asylum seekers, refugees, businessmen and skilled workers are all treated with the same sharp laws is a huge issue that, unless corrected, will see fewer tourists and less investment in our beautiful country.

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