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Visa Service Update for South Africa: VFS Centres Reopen

As per the VFS South Africa website, as of Tuesday 22 September 2020, visa services have resumed at all Visa Facilitation Centres in South Africa.

All categories of temporary residence visas, including applications of waivers of the prescribed requirement, will be accepted. The resumption of other immigration related applications will be phased in over a period of time.

Please note that adherence to all COVID -19 health protocols at all VFS centres are mandatory.

For more information, click here.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email info@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

Entry Update on Quarantine Protocols in Nigeria

Lynn Mackenzie, J.D., LLM
Courtesy of Bloomfield Law Practice

The Federal Government of Nigeria has expressed its readiness to reopen the nation’s International airspace in a matter of weeks. Although there is no set date yet, we can confirm that the Federal Government has commenced putting measures in place for the process of the gradual resumption of international flight operations.

The Nigerian Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 requires persons arriving in Nigeria to self-isolate for 14 days at a location of their choosing in the City/State of their point of entry (i.e. Lagos or Abuja).  Travelers will have their passports retained by the Nigeria Immigration Service throughout the isolation period. We have highlighted below the arrival requirement for the quarantine process in existence in Nigeria;

  1. Upon arrival at the airport passengers are mandated to present a COVID-19 tested certificate stating a negative result. The certificate is also a mandatory requirement to board any international aircraft during the period and must be obtained 72 hours before the flight.
  2. The passenger will be handed a form to complete and provide their full correct address and phone number.
  3. Upon completion of the form, the passenger will be required to submit their original international passport, COVID-19 test result and the completed form to the immigration officials present at the pot of entry.
  4. Passengers will be given an appointment time and date to present them at the sample collection center located in Lagos or Abuja for a repeat COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours of arrival.
  5. Once the test has been successfully carried our, the test result will be available after the compulsory 14 day quarantine period, and if the result is negative, a certificate will be issued.
  6. The certificate once available for the exit interview will be taken to the immigration officials at the airport to retrieve passports submitted.
  7. Once the passport is retrieved, the passenger is allowed to reintegrate with the public.

Please be advised that it has been confirmed that the assignee’s presence will not be required to retrieve their passport at the airport after the completion of the compulsory 14 days quarantine process.

The content of this article is provided for general information purposes. The provision of this article does not constitute legal advice or opinion of any kind; no advisory or fiduciary relationship is created between Relocation Africa and any other person accessing or using this article. Relocation Africa will not be liable for any damages or loss arising from using any part of this article.  

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email info@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

Latest South African Department of Home Affairs Directive for COVID-19

In line with President Ramaphosas’ statement dated 15 March 2020 and latest instructions from the DHA, the following should be noted.

Foreign nationals who are currently not in SA

Visa exemptions granted in terms of section 10A(4)(a) of the SA Immigration Act, enjoyed by foreign nationals from the high risk countries, including China, France, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Germany, the US, and the UK, is withdrawn with immediate effect, until further notice. Foreign nationals arriving in SA after 18 March 2020, from these countries, will be refused entry.

Visa exemptions granted in terms of section 10A(4)(a) of the SA Immigration Act, enjoyed by foreign nationals from the medium risk countries (you may list them), is withdrawn with immediate effect., until further notice. Foreign nationals from these countries, must first apply for and be issued with a visa and such visa application will be subject to a medical report, attesting to the fact that the applicant has tested negative for the COVID-19.

Port of entry visas which were issued to citizens of China and Iran, on or before 15 March 2020, for the purpose of visiting SA, is cancelled with immediate effect and is declared null and void.

Any foreign national whose passport contains evidence that that visited the high risk countries, since 15 March 2020, will not be issued with port of entry visas or temporary residence visas.

Foreign nationals who are currently in SA

Foreign nationals who are currently in SA and who originates from one of the countries affected by the covid-19 outbreak, or who, in order to reach their destination of origin, needs to transit through and affected country and whose temporary residence visa is due to expire, or had already expired, may apply for an extension of such visa, which extension may be granted until 31 July 2020, on condition that they are able to comply with all requirements. If one is unable to comply with one or more of the requirements, one may apply to the Minister in the prescribed manner, to waive such requirement. It should further be noted that no change of status or condition will be considered / allowed.

Foreign nationals who are currently in SA and who originates from one of the countries affected by the covid-19 outbreak, or who, in order to reach their destination of origin, needs to transit through and affected country and who is / was the holder of a temporary residence visa which expired between 1 December 2019 and 31 March 2020, may apply for an extension of such visa, without the need to first obtain a form 20 (authorization for an illegal foreigner to remain in SA pending the application for status).

The above-mentioned concessions are only applicable to foreign nationals who have been legally admitted into SA and is applicable until further notice.

For further information, please contact the Department of Home Affairs, or your local embassy or consulate.

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email info@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.
Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

South Africa is Expanding its New e-Visa System

The Department of Home Affairs will expand its e-Visa system in the coming months, making it easier for tourists to enter the country thanks to the online capture of visa applications and biometric information.

In a parliamentary presentation on Tuesday (18 February), the department indicated that it has successfully piloted an e-visa in Kenya, with plans to extend the pilot to India, Nigeria and China over the course of this quarter.

After addressing a number of ‘teething issues’ it is expected to conclude the piloting stage with the aim of introducing the programme.

South Africa began trials on a new e-visa system in November 2019. Speaking to BusinessTech at the time, Department of Home Affairs spokesperson Siya Qoza said that the pilot aims to test the resilience of the system, with the department already holding successful trials in a controlled environment.

“The pilot will be conducted with Kenya first at the OR Tambo and Lanseria airports,” he said. “At the end of the month, we will evaluate the project and look at which other countries to expand the e-visa system to.”

Qoza added that the system is quick and has been designed to be as user-friendly as possible.

He estimated that the entire application process would take around 20 minutes, provided the applicant has all of the necessary supporting documents ready for submission.

Should one of the required documents be missing, applicants can resume the process exactly where they left off at a later date, he said.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email info@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

SOUTH AFRICA | Major Changes on Visa Validity, Transfers, Rectifications, and Appeals

What’s Changed?

Effective immediately, The South African Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has issued a new policy circular making significant changes to the validity period of all visas, the rules for visa transfers and rectifications, and the appeals process for rejected applications. Some of these changes represent significant departures from past practice and have immediate impact – particularly for current visa holders already in South Africa.

Visa Validities May Not Exceed Passport Validity

In a change of potentially immediate concern for companies, foreign employees, and their families, the DHA will no longer accept applications for the transfer of a visa if the applicant’s passport is already expired. Going forward, new visas will not be issued for a validity period exceeding the applicant’s passport expiration date. However, if a visa is issued with a validity that exceeds the passport’s validity, the DHA will now consider it as issued in error and withdraw the visa entirely.

As the rules already require that foreign nationals’ passports be valid for at least 30 days after the time of departure from South Africa, the maximum possible validity period for any visa is now the validity period of the passport minus 30 days. Under these new rules, if foreign nationals are in South Africa within 30 days of their passport expiring, their visa will be considered withdrawn or expired, and they will be liable for an overstay, resulting in a one-year entry bar.

In addition, foreign national visa holders currently outside of South Africa should take note that the previous practice of entering South Africa with two passports – the expired passport containing the valid visa, and a new passport without a visa – is no longer permitted. Therefore, they should renew their passport before applying for their visa if the expected visa validity period will extend beyond 30 days before their current passport expires.

New Restrictions for Transfer of Valid Visas

As visas cannot outlive the validity of the passport, the DHA has also issued new regulations regarding the transfer of visas to a new passport. Thus, the DHA will now only accept applications to transfer visas from an old passport to a new passport under one of the two following conditions: (1) the passport containing the valid visa is lost, stolen, or damaged, or (2) the passport containing the visa is full and there are no blank pages available for the holder to travel. Again, under these new rules, the visa cannot be transferred if the passport has expired. While there is no government fee, a VFS service fee of ZAR 1350 will be charged for all visa transfers.

Rectification of Visa Errors

The DHA will now only accept applications for visa rectifications under one of the following conditions:

  • The name of the applicant is spelled incorrectly or not captured correctly from the application form;
  • The visa category is captured incorrectly and is not the same as that applied for in the application;
  • The visa reference number is incorrect and does not correspond to the reference number given when the application was accepted; or
  • The visa issue date or expiry date do not correspond to the correct validity period for the visa type for which the holder applied.

For visas issued by South African overseas consular posts, rectification can only be made after receiving an email from the consular post confirming the visa’s authenticity. There are no government or VFS fee for applications for visa rectification.

Appeals of Rejected Applications

The DHA will now only accept appeals from decisions rejecting visa applications if submitted in-person within 10 business days at a VFS office after payment of a ZAR 1350 service fee. Acceptable grounds for appeal include:

  • Mistakes by the adjudicator;
  • The application was rejected based on the wrong category;
  • The adjudicator claimed that required documents were missing from the application, but the applicant believes all required documents were provided;
  • The application was rejected based on grounds the applicant believes to be wrongful; and
  • “Any other negative reason not mentioned above.”

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