Expect Stricter Requirements When Applying for a Schengen Visa

South Africans travelling to certain European Union (EU) countries may now face stricter requirements when applying for a Schengen visa.

This is according to immigration lawyer Gary Eisenberg who was speaking to Cape Talk’s Kieno Kammies after a number of listeners complained of extra requirements when applying for a Schengen visa to visit Spain.

Some of ways that these requirements have been tightened include an increased turn-a-round time, while certain documents need authorisation by the Spanish police, Eisenberg said.

The immigration expert said that additional requirements have been introduced after BLS International Services replaced VFS Visa & Permit Facilitation Centre as a new visa facilitation company for the country.

He said that BLS has its own proprietary standards when it came to applications, meaning that Spain had tightened its requirements when it comes to offering South Africans a Schengen visa.

When asked how other countries within the Schengen block were affected, Eisenberg said that there were no specific changes but rather an overall tightening of documentation from ‘high-risk’ countries such as South Africa.

“I think countries are becoming far more careful on documentation emanating from countries like South Africa which are seen as high risk for fraudulent documentation, and this is why Britain has imposed visa restrictions on South Africa, ” he said.

“We see on a daily basis foreigners living in South Africa with fraudulent visas and fraudulent identity documents, and this seems to be common place.

“So governments I think, are united in their drive to screen documents more carefully,” he said.

The 26 Schengen countries are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

Visa requirements

While the Department of Home Affairs confirmed, at the end of January 2018, that visa-free travel to the EU was still being discussed for South Africa, the majority of European Union countries will not allow South Africans to enter without a Schengen or similar visa.

According to Arton Capital’s latest Passport Index, South Africans can currently apply for visa-free travel to 95 countries.

However, only Ireland forms part of mainland Europe, while several other countries such as Russia, Kosovo, Georgia and Armenia are given status as being part of “Eurasia”.

You can find the complete of list of countries for which South Africans do not require a visa, or only require a visa on entry here.


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Source: BusinessTech. Image source: [1].

Major Crackdown on Corrupt SA Government Officials

Police Minister Bheki Cele says nine officials from the Departments of Home Affairs and Correctional Services are expected to appear in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on Monday.

Cele says the officials were arrested in Soweto and Johannesburg on Friday on charges of corruption after they released thirty-six parolees without following due process.

The minister says the officials allegedly did so for financial gain.

“The officials were allegedly involved in illegally releasing at least 36 parolees, all of whom were women, over a period of more than a year without following proper procedures for financial gain. The foreign parolees, most of whom were drug smugglers or drug mules, had to be released and deported to their country of origin through Lindela Deportation Centre. Instead they were sent directly to the Johannesburg Department of Home Affairs regional office for an unprocedural and illegal early release,” says Cele. “Some remained in South Africa, of which six of them have been rearrested, and it emerged that these six had no intention of leaving South Africa.”

The rest left the country of their own accord.

Cele says the parolees hail from Guyana in South America, Congo, Nigeria, Ghana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Lesotho.

Cele says since the start of the investigation in 2016, at least twenty-six corrupt officials were identified.

“However after extensive consultations with the Directorate for Public Prosecutions, it was decided that 11 officials should be indicted given the level of evidence against them,” says Cele. “Nine of the suspects were arrested and detained in Johannesburg central. The 10th suspect is still being sought and the 11th suspect died in a motor vehicle collision last month.”

Cele says the investigation revealed that the officials were either paid in cash or the money was transferred into their bank accounts by families or friends of the parolees.

“Officials would demand bribes of the amount of R3000 for those from African countries and R6000 for those from outside Africa, like South American countries.”


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Source: Neo Motloung, Jacaranda FM. Image source: [1].

South African eVisa Roll-out Set To Commence

The roll-out programme for eVisas in South Africa will commence in the last quarter of the next financial year, by March 31, 2019, according to a written statement by the Department of Home Affairs, to Shadow Minister of Tourism, James Vos.

The statement indicated that “the roll-out programme will be gradual starting with Phase 1, Release 1, which entails applications for temporary residence visas, adjudication of temporary residence visas, applications for waivers, notifications to the applicant via email and biometrics captured at the Mission. The ePermit will be piloted at one Mission or local office in the last quarter of the next financial year by 31st March 2019. This is to ensure system stability. Once stable, more offices locally and abroad can then be gradually brought online.”

Vos says he had been calling for an eVisa system to facilitate easier access for tourists to South Africa, as well as the scrapping of the unabridged birth certificate requirement, which have both hampered tourist access to the country and seen a resultant decline in international tourist arrivals. “South Africa’s tourism industry is still recovering from the disastrous visa regulations debacle which, according to the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association, resulted in an estimated R7.5bn (€506.5m) loss to the tourism economy and a decrease of about 600 000 tourists.”

With the rand being at its lowest point in 14 years, South Africa should be thriving as a tourist destination for foreign travellers, says Vos. “But in spite of this, the government’s visa regulations continue to make it difficult for tourists to select South Africa as a destination due its cumbersome visa application processes.”

An eVisa system could mean a greater tourist influx, as well as local job creation. Vos concludes: “We need to streamline tourist facilitation to our country to make it easier for travellers to select South Africa as a country of choice when it comes to travel and trade. Ultimately government should cut the red tape and roll out the red carpet.”

The eVisa system will operate as follows, according to the written statement by the Department of Home Affairs:

“eVisa introduces online capture of visa and permit applications and capturing of applicant’s biometrics in South Africa and abroad. An application will be captured and submitted online together with the required supporting documents that will be scanned and attached to the application. The applicant will then present himself/herself before a DHA Official for biometric enrolment and verification of the submitted supporting documents is conducted at this stage”.

“The application form together with supporting documents and biometrics are then electronically routed to DHA Head Office in Pretoria for adjudication. The applicant is electronically notified of the outcome via email as well as via the application portal. For an approved visa/permit, a secure QR-Code is generated for print on the notification notice/letter sent to the applicant. This QR-Code contains the approved visa/permit detail and is maintained and managed by DHA at a secure web-storage facility”.

“The same QR-Code will be scanned to view and validate the issued virtual visa/permit upon arrival of the applicant within the Republic. The same QR-Code is also pre-loaded into Biometric Movement Control System upon approval of the application and the virtual visa/permit (eVisa/ePermit) will be further validated at the Port of Entry upon arrival of the applicant”.


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Source: Kerry Hayes, Tourism Update. Image source: [1].

Official: Zuma Will Be Prosecuted on Corruption Charges

Just a few minutes ago, Shaun Abrahams, head of South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority, announced that the country’s former President, Jacob Zuma, will have to face corruption charges in court.

Zuma and his lawyers will need to prepare a defense against 16 charges, which have been following him for years. Previous charges had been set aside by the former NPA head, but this was later declared unconstitutional.

Zuma’s representations, submitted last month to Abrahams, proved unsuccessful. Zuma has stated consistently that he is not guilty of any wrongdoing in relation to the charges in question.

A court date is yet to be announced.


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Source: [1]. Image source: [1].

Ramaphosa: SA Govt Will Pay Zuma’s Legal Fees

President Cyril Ramaphosa says the undertaking with Jacob Zuma was signed in good faith and that the former president will personally have to pay back the money if he loses.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has defended the government’s undertaking to spend millions on Jacob Zuma’s legal costs in court action over the fraud and corruption charges against him.

Ramaphosa told Parliament that Zuma will personally have to pay back the money if he loses.

The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) claims the deal struck with Zuma is unlawful and is gearing for legal action to force the Presidency to recover the R15.3 million that taxpayers have forked out so far.

President Ramaphosa says the undertaking with Zuma was signed in good faith.

“With regards to the payment of legal costs, in case he loses the case, he would be willing (and) able to pay back the money and of course, if that fails, the government has other legal means to which it can go and recover the money”.

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema says they believe Zuma’s total taxpayer-funded legal bill stands at around R64 million.

Ramaphosa says he’s unaware and that the R15.3 million calculated so far relates only to the corruption charges.

A fresh legal battle now looms, with the DA set to challenge the legality of the agreement and to seek an order forcing the Presidency to get Zuma to repay the money.


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Source: EWN [1]. Image source: [1].