SOUTH AFRICA – New Extended Visitor Visa and Postal Applications

Effective immediately, established, frequent visitors to South Africa who are not from visa exempt/visa waiver countries and who are travelling for business, tourism or academic purposes may be granted multiple-entry Port of Entry Visas valid for up to two or three years.

In addition, visa applicants will now be able to submit applications by post or courier in instances where there is no South Africa diplomatic mission located in their country of citizenship/residence. This concession only applies to applicants for short-term Port of Entry Visas (Visitor’s Visas) and Medical Treatment Visas.

Extended Visitor Visa

The new long-term Port of Entry Visa may be issued valid for any period up to two or three years to allow for multiple stays of up to 90 consecutive days at a time or any lesser period as determined by the issuing South African Mission, at its discretion. This implies that frequent business visitors will now only be required to apply for a visas once every two or three years, as the case may be.

This does, however, not apply to first-time visa applicants. A foreign national must first establish themselves as a bona-fide traveler (by complying with the conditions of the first visa issued to them). In addition, South African Missions have been instructed to check the foreign national’s passport to determine whether they are, in fact, a frequent traveler (by checking for visas for other countries). The extended visa will not be issued in all instances. This visa will also not provide for short-term work activities for which an authorization in terms of Section 11(2) of the Immigration Act is required.

Postal Applications

Visa applicants in countries where South Africa does not have any diplomatic mission will be allowed to submit visa applications by post or courier as opposed to having to appear in person. This will save applicants from having to travel often lengthy distances to other countries for submission of visa applications. For visa holders who have applied by post/courier, biometric data will be captured at the Port of Entry of their arrival in South Africa once such facilities have been fully implemented at all Port of Entries.

In October 2015, the Department of Home Affairs (“DHA”) was instructed by the Inter-Ministerial Committee to implement postal/courier applications within a period of 3 months (by the end of January 2016); however, the possibility of postal/courier applications must be checked on a case-by-case basis with the relevant accredited South African Mission to which the application is destined.

Because there are many countries in which South African Diplomatic Missions are available but not enough to reasonably cover the vast territory of the country and/or the volume of visa applications; including but not limited to: China, Nigeria, DRC, Angola, Ghana, Kenya and Uganda, the DHA has indicated that it will work to open a number of new VFS Visa Application Centers in these countries. This has already taken place in India where the number of VFS Centers has been increased from two to nine early last year. The DHA will also fast-track the opening of VFS Centers in Zimbabwe, the United Arab Emirates and Botswana.