South Africa Relax Immigration Laws

south africa immigration lawsIn August, an Inter-Ministerial Committee on Migration was appointed to investigate the effects of South Africa’s immigration law changes. In particular, the changes around travelling with minors that had a noted impact on tourism.

On Friday, 23 October 2015, The Department of Home Affairs announced that Cabinet approved recommendations to relax South Africa’s visa regulations. This move was applauded by industry role players.

The following recommendations were made:

  • In countries where there is no South African mission, the Department of Home Affairs will accept visa applications by post. Further to this, biometrics of these travellers will be taken on arrival at ports of entry. This means foreigners would no longer have to submit visa applications to travel to South Africa in person.
  • Address concerns around the geographical spread of countries like China, India and Russia, to put measures in place to ease the process of visa application in these regions.
  • Foreigners travelling with minors to and from South Africa will no longer have to produce unabridged birth certificates. Instead, original birth certificates will only be required during the visa application process.
  • Requirements regarding unaccompanied minors will remain, like providing copies of the identity document or valid passport and visa or permanent residence permit of the person who is to receive the unaccompanied minor.
  • Travellers from visa-exempt countries will be advised to have a proof of relationship and consent from the absent parent/s or guardian/s in case such proof is requested on arrival. The Department of Home Affairs will, in due course, establish a legal instrument for this category of travellers.
  • South African minors will still be required to travel with an unabridged birth certificate, containing parental details.

In order to implement these suggestions and Cabinet’s decisions on the matters, the Department of Home Affairs will do the following in the next three months:

  • Implement the capturing of biometrics at ports of entry, starting with a pilot at OR Tambo, Cape Town and King Shaka airports.
  • Look at introducing an Accredited Tourism Company Programme for countries like China, India and Russia.
  • Consider a long-term Multiple Entry visa for a period exceeding 3 months and up to 3 years for frequent travellers (for business meetings), business people and academics.
  • Principals will issue letters confirming permission for children to travel on school tours.
  • Extend the validity of the parental consent affidavit to 6 months.

These suggestions and actions will make it hopefully make it easier for foreigners, especially tourists, to travel to and from South Africa.

If there are any other updates in the future, we will update you as soon as it happens. If you have any questions on the points discussed here, do not hesitate to call either our Cape Town or Johannesburg office:

Cape Town: +27 (0) 21 424 2460
Johannesburg: +27 (0) 11 234 4275