SA Home Affairs Update: Change of Status Revision; Reciprocal Travel Visa Revision

The South African government has recently announced two immigration- and visitor-related changes.

Change of Status

Foreigners who are spouses or children of South African citizens or permanent residents may now apply for change of status/condition from within the country, if they are currently in SA on normal visitors visas, without first applying for waivers.

Reciprocal Visa

At the Budget Vote 2019, the SA Minister of Home Affairs announced a new list of countries on South Africa’s visa-free list. The additions, to boost tourism, include Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Ghana, Sao Tome and Principe, and New Zealand.


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

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

Home Affairs Focusing on People Working in South Africa on the Wrong Visa

The Department of Home Affairs has published its first directive for 2019, aiming to clamp down on foreigners working in the country on ‘business trip’ visas.

According to Marisa Jacobs, director at Xpatweb, the directive clarifies that Section 11(2) visas are not to be used continuously and are specifically to allow for ‘short term project resources in South Africa’.

“The issuing of this directive indicates a common misuse of the visa category by employers where they are making use of the relaxed nature of visa requirements of this category to bring resources into South Africa and then continuously extending or applying for new visas when they should, in fact, be pursuing a long term work visa,” she said.

“The directive now sets out clearly that the visa may only be applied for once in a calendar year and only extended once for a period not exceeding three months. The maximum period is thus six months.”


According to Jacobs, there is a broad misrepresentation by business travelers – especially those travelling from visa exempt countries – who enter South Africa on a holiday/business visa while in fact conducting work in South Africa.

“When an employee comes to render employment services in South Africa, make sure they get a valid short-term work visa,” she said.

“Do not take a chance and tell the immigration official this is only a business trip, when the purpose is work.

“It is easy to be compliant and not worth the risk. The process takes 5 – 10 working days and the short-term visa is issued for three months and may be extended in South Africa for a further three months.”

Consequences of working on a Business Visa

Where an expatriate is found on your premises conducting work without the necessary authorization on their visa to conduct such work, the Immigration Act clearly sets out the implications for both the expatriate and the employer, said Jacobs.

This includes arrest and deportation for the foreign national and a fine and/or arrest for the employer depending on the offence, she said.

“The issuing of the above directive points to a more vigilant Department with their eye on individuals and businesses who do not comply with the conditions of their visas.

“This is a good time to ensure all employees are compliant and your organisation is in the green.”


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

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

5 New Visa Changes South Africans Need to Know About Before Heading to the UK

UK immigration minister, Caroline Nokes, recently made a number of surprising announcements as the country prepares to make visa reforms.

Below, Breytenbachs Immigration Consultants broke down some of the most important changes and what they will mean for South Africans.

Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa to be replaced by innovator route

The current Tier 1 Entrepreneur route will be replaced by a new Innovator route, for more experienced business persons.

It will have a “similar emphasis on endorsement by a business sponsor, who will assess applicants’ business ideas for their innovation, viability and scalability”.

“We subsequently encourage applicants who still want to apply under the current Tier 1 Entrepreneur route, to contact us without delay,” Breytenbachs said.

New start-up visa route

Earlier in 2018, the UK Government announced that it will establish a new Start-up visa route. This route will build on the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur route.

Applicants under this new route will have to be endorsed by either a business or higher education institution sponsor.

No clarity on Tier 1 investor route

The UK Government announced on 6 December 2018 that the Tier 1 Investor route is suspended.

It added this route will from 7 December 2018 no longer be open for applicants to apply, and that new rules will be put in place sometime during 2019.

However, the Home Office has since released an official statement to the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association (ILPA) stating the following:

“The Tier 1 (Investor) visa is not currently suspended. However, the Government remains committed to reforming the route. A further announcement will be made in due course.

“Any suspension would be implemented through changes to the Immigration rules.”

Tier 1 exceptional talent extended to architects

The Tier 1 Exceptional Talent route will be expanded to provide for the inclusion of leading architects.

These architects will have to be endorsed by the Royal Institute of British Architects, under the remit of the Arts Council England.

Tier 5 religious and charity workers

Tier 5 Religious Workers and Tier 5 Charity Workers will in future have a cooling off period.

This cooling off period will prevent them from returning to the UK for 12 months, on another Tier 5 visa. This step is taken to underpin the fact that this is a temporary route.


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

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

South Africa Adopts New Visa Rules

The reversal of the unabridged birth certificate rule is just one of the many changes implemented by the Department of Home Affairs.

South Africa will implement some changes to its visa system in December 2018 which will likely impact tourism and immigration procedures.

This was revealed by the Department of Home Affairs, which recently published its regulatory amendments pertaining to the Immigration Act of 2002. This official government notice, published on 29 November, has been reported on by Business Tech in the wake of former Home Affairs Minister, Malusi Gigaba’s, disgraced exit from the department.

No more unabridged birth certificates

While Gigaba’s dubious tenure came to an abrupt halt following serious allegations of corruption, mismanagement and Constitutional violations – his time as Home Affairs minister will forever be stained by the unabridged birth certificate debacle. This rule, which required minors entering or leaving South Africa to produce an unabridged birth certificate, has been overturned.

The controversial rule, implemented by Gigaba during the start of his term, allegedly cost South Africa R7.5 billion due to a noticeable drop in lucrative the tourism sector.

The reversal of the unabridged birth certificate rule is just one of the many changes implemented by the Department of Home Affairs, due to take effect on 1 December. Let’s look at some other revised regulations which will affect the visa system in South Africa.

Spousal visa for entering South Africa

Visa applications concerning spouses in a “permanent homosexual or heterosexual relationship” have been revised in the latest amendment of the Immigration Act. The adjustments to the regulatory act define new policies relating to the rights of spouses entering South Africa. The notice makes a few important points:

  • Applications need to prove to the Director-General that the applicant is a spouse to a citizen or permanent residence permit holder.
  • Applicants need to sign an agreement stating that the permanent homosexual or heterosexual relationship has existed for at least two years before the date of application for a relevant visa and that neither of the parties is a spouse in an existing marriage.
  • Documents detailing the financial support the partners provide to each other need to be provided.
  • Both partners to a permanent homosexual or heterosexual relationship may be interviewed separately, on the same date and time, to determine the authenticity of the existence of their relationship.

Travelling with a child

Revised regulations relating specifically to children in transit have been noted in the Department of Home Affairs’ document. In addition to no longer needing an unabridged birth certificate, here are some points for parents and guardians to be aware of when travelling to and from South Africa.

Parent(s), legal guardians, or any other person travelling with a child who is a South African citizen, must produce the following before departing or entering South Africa:

  • a copy of a birth certificate or passport containing the details of the parent or parents of the child
  • a letter of consent from the other parent or parents of the child authorising such person to depart from or enter South Africa with the child he or she is travelling with
  • a copy of the passport, or identity card in the case of South African citizens, of the parent or parents or legal guardian of the child
    the contact details of the parent or parents, or legal guardian, of the child
  • a copy of a court order granting full parental responsibilities and rights or legal guardianship in respect of the child

An unaccompanied child must produce the immigration officer with the following:

  • a copy of his or her birth certificate
  • a letter of consent from one or both his or her parents or legal guardian, as the case may be, for the child to travel into or depart from South Africa
  • a copy of the passport of the parent or parents or legal guardian of the child
    the contact details of the parent or parents or legal guardian of the child
  • a letter from the person who is to receive the child in the country, containing his or her residential address and contact details in the country where the child will be residing
  • a copy of the identity card or valid passport and visa or permanent residence permit of the person who is to receive the child in the country

General work, business, and corporate visas

Visa revisions have also been made concerning foreigners who intend to establish a business or invest in a business that is not yet established in South Africa. These revisions include providing detailed account information and registering with various state institutions, including SARS and the Unemployment Insurance Fund.

Applications for general work visas have also been revised and must include a letter issued to the prospective employer by the Department of Labour stating that:

  • despite a diligent search, the prospective employer has been unable to find a suitable citizen or permanent resident with qualifications or skills and experience equivalent to those of the applicant
  • the applicant has qualifications or proven skills and experience in line with the job offer
  • the contract of employment stipulating the conditions of employment, signed by both the employer and the applicant, is in line with the labour standards in the Republic and is issued on condition that the general work visa is approved.

Corporate visas also need to pass through the Department of Labour, following a similar process by engaging integral state institutions.

To make use of the Department of Home Affairs’ e-services, click here. To find your nearest Home Affairs office, click here.


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

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

Tourism Minister Puts Visas Back on the Agenda

Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom is to meet with Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba to put South Africa’s unresolved problematic visa regime back on the national agenda.

Speaking at a Wesgro briefing in Cape Town today (Tuesday), he said dealing with the visa issues would be top priority in coming months. He already had a date for “a robust engagement” with Home Affairs and he was “quite hopeful that we will be able to address some of the visa issues”.

“We think the situation has changed, because we have a President who really sees the importance of tourism and who is going to be supportive.” He also suggested that Minister Gigaba might have gained a different perspective during his tenure as Finance Minister.

“While being the Minister of Finance, he was able to look at the economy very seriously, knowing very well that unless we do all sorts of smart things, we are not going to get economic growth. So I think things have changed somewhat. He has already indicated a real interest in expanding online visa applications and also (to increase) more visas on arrivals. So that will all form part of the discussions.”

Minister Hanekom criticised as “national stupidity” and “retrogressive” the Department of Home Affairs’ decision in December 2016 to impose reciprocal visas on New Zealand visitors. This was done during Minister Gigaba’s first tenure as Minister of Home Affairs. It was in response to New Zealand’s announcement in October 2016 to impose visas on South Africans travelling to that country.

“The notion of reciprocal visa requirements is unwise to say the least. It’s not very smart to retaliate.” He cited as an example that Russian arrivals to South Africa had increased by more than 50% last year after Russia was granted a visa waiver to South Africa, whereas arrivals from New Zealand declined by 17% during the same time “for no other reason than the visa requirement”.

Minister Hanekom said he would also again table South Africa’s requirement for unabridged birth certificates, which he said, was “costing South Africa heavily”. “Even the little bit of advance that we have made in China and India by not requiring people to go in person to collect their visas, is not enough. We need to do a lot more. It is still too difficult to get visas for South Africa. We also need to pay attention to the three-month limitation on visas and we need to pay attention to the long (immigration) queues at airports.”

He said addressing all these issues would make a huge difference in bringing more tourism to the country.


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

Source: Hilka Birns, Tourism Update.