Home Affairs eases visa regulations for travellers

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Foreign nationals travelling to South Africa will no longer be required to have unabridged certificates for their minor children upon arrival in South Africa.

“The key changes will be that rather than requiring all foreign national travelling minors to carry documentation proving parental consent for the minor to travel, we will rather strongly recommend that travellers carry this documentation,” said Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba on Tuesday.

The change in policy follows an announcement of a Stimulus Package and recovery plan to boost the economy, as announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday.

As part of its effort to aid the economy, Home Affairs announced the changes to its visa requirements in an effort to boost tourism and make business travel more conducive.

Gigaba said his department will issue an international travel advisory before the end of October 2018 after consultation with the Immigration Advisory Board (IAB).

“We are simplifying the rules on travelling minors, who are foreign nationals to minimise disruption to legitimate travellers without compromising the safety of minors and the rights of parents.

“Our immigrations officials will only insist on documentation by exception -- in high risk situations -- rather than for all travellers, in line with practice by several other countries,” said the Minister.

Home Affairs will now allow travellers an opportunity to prove parental consent.

“These changes will be implemented in good time for the festive season when many people would be traveling with children. We will train immigration officials on the revised regulations to ensure smooth implementation,” said Gigaba.

While foreign nationals are exempted from presenting documentation, South African minors travelling abroad will still be required to prove consent or have a minor passport.

Visa waivers

In addition, South Africa is reviewing its visa waiver agreements, as called for by the 2017 White Paper on International Migration.

Gigaba said negotiations are being finalised to conclude Visa Waiver Agreements for ordinary passport holders with the following countries, from respective regions:

  • Africa: Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Sao Tome & Principe, Tunisia, Saharawi-Arab Democratic Republic and Ghana.
  • Middle East: Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, State of Palestine, Iran, Lebanon, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait.
  • Eastern Europe: Belarus and Georgia.
  • Caribbean: Cuba

Of the top 10 African tourism markets, only Nigeria has a visa requirement for ordinary passport holders, while in the top 10 overseas tourism markets to South Africa, only India and China require a visa.

Visa waivers are already in place for the rest of the top 10 overseas markets, including travellers from the United Kingdom, the United State of America, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Australia, Brazil and Canada.

In 2017, South Africa also implemented a visa waiver for all citizens of the Russian Federation and Angola.

Simplification of visa requirements

In a bid to simplify visa requirements for countries such as China and India, Gigaba said his department will by October 2018, implement measures to fast track the processing of visas.

The measures will include taking biometrics on arrival in South Africa; allowing visa applications via courier and issuing five-year multiple entry visas.

“Easing movement in this manner will help in attracting larger numbers of tourists, business people and families,” said Gigaba.

Long-term multiple entry and BRICS visas

In order to further ease movement of travellers, for purposes of tourism, business meetings and academic exchange, the department will issue long-term multiple entry visas. 

The type of multiple long-term visas include:

  • A three-year multiple entry visa for frequent trusted travellers to South Africa, and
  • A 10-year long-term multiple entry visa for businesspeople and academics from Africa.

To attract business people and prospective investors, business people from BRICS countries who require visas will be issued a 10-year multiple entry visa, within five days of application.

 

These applicants do not need to apply in person, and can use courier services.

In attracting and retaining critically skilled labour, Home Affairs said it will review its critical skills list by April 2019. – SAnews.gov.za

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