BY Zahida Ebrahim
Visa concessions announced for foreigners in South Africa
On 26 March 2020, the South African Minister of Home Affairs announced the following visa concessions which now apply to foreigners inside South Africa:
- A foreigner who was inside South Africa during the period of a national state of disaster, and who had entered South Africa since 15 February 2020 or before that date, and holds a visa which was issued for a period of less than 90 days which expired during the national state of disaster, will benefit from the automatic extension of their visa to 30 June 2021;
- This extension of the validity of visas does not apply to visas issued for more than 90 days up to three years, such as study visas, treaty visas, business visas, medical treatment visas, general work visas, critical skills work visas, retired person visas and exchange visas which expired during the national state of disaster. Holders of such visas must apply for new visas on or before 31 July 2021. Although the implication is that such longer term visas are automatically extended to this date, there is no clarity on this issue.
- No Form 20 authorisation is required for submitting the visa renewal application after the visa’s expiry date.
- An asylum seeker permit lawfully issued in terms of section 22 of the Refugees Act, 1998 and a refugee status granted in terms of section 24 of the Refugees Act, 1998, which expired from 15 March 2020, or is to expire or which status was to be withdrawn during the period of the national state of disaster, is deemed to have been extended up to and including 30 June 2021.
- A Lesotho special permit lawfully issued in terms of section 31(2)(b) of the Immigration Act, 2002 that has expired is deemed to have been extended up to and including 30 June 2021.
- A person whose visa has expired from 15 March 2020 and has remained in South Africa during the period of the national state of disaster will not be declared an undesirable person in terms of the Immigration Act, 2002 upon leaving South Africa during the period of the national state of disaster up to and including 30 June 2021.
- A holder of a visa or permit must adhere to the terms and conditions of their visa and any activity not endorsed onto such visa or permit is prohibited.
- Where the applicant is unable to meet one or more of the prescribed requirements for any temporary residence visa, he or she may, in still, terms of section 31(2)(c) of the Immigration Act, 2002 apply to the minister, in the manner prescribed in the Immigration Regulations, 2014 to waive such requirement.
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