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.

New policies on validity of visas announced – South Africa

What is the change? South Africa has announced significant changes to the validity period of visas. Visas will no longer be valid beyond the expiration date of the holder’s passport, and authorities will no longer recognize or transfer an existing visa from an old passport to a new passport.

What does the change mean? All foreign nationals currently holding South African visas should check the expiration date on their passport, which is the date that now controls expiration of their visa (regardless of the visa’s stated validity period). Individuals applying for South African visas should also make sure that their passport is valid for at least 30 days beyond the requested visa period.

How will this impact foreign nationals with existing permits?

· Implementation time frame: Immediate.
· Visas/permits affected: All South African visas.
· Who is affected: Individuals currently holding or applying for South African visas.
· Business impact: The policy adds significant administrative burdens and requires employers and individuals to be aware of passport validity periods before applying for visas, as well as during the term of their visa. Individuals risk overstaying their visa (resulting in a one-year bar from entry into South Africa) if their passport expires before the end of their stated visa term.
· Next steps: Companies should work with their BAL professional to identify affected foreign employees and family members, including minor children whose passports usually have shorter validity periods. Those applying for visas may need to obtain a new passport if it is due to expire within the requested visa period. Those who already hold a visa that expires within 30 days before their passport expires may need to leave South Africa to avoid overstaying their visa.
Background: Previously, South African immigration authorities issued visas with a maximum validity period based on the period requested in the application. If a visa holder’s passport expired during the visa period, authorities would allow the visa holder to travel into South Africa with the expired passport holding the visa and the new passport; those already in South Africa could transfer their visa from an old passport to a new passport.

Under the new Department of Home Affairs policy, the maximum validity of a visa is the passport’s validity period minus 30 days. The policy affects individuals currently holding South African visas as well as those applying for or renewing visas, and affects visas issued abroad or in-country.

According to the DHA statement, “A visa issued with an expiry date beyond that of a passport is considered to have been issued in error and when discovered will be withdrawn.” The statement further clarifies that foreign nationals will not be exempt from immigration enforcement because a visa was issued in error. Therefore, in the event that a visa holder’s passport expires while in South Africa during the visa term (even if the visa validity was issued in error), DHA is likely to deem the foreign national an overstay who is subject to being on the “undesirables” list and barred from re-entry for at least 12 months.

For assistance with matters contact our South African immigration team – or call our offices +27 (0)21 7634240 Relocation Africa can provide a management tool to manage all foreign nationals expiry dates on passports and visas.