South Africa’s new visa rules – All the info you need

south africa new visa rules

On 29 November, the Department of Home Affairs published the ‘Draft First Amendment of the Immigration Regulations, 2014’ in the Government Gazette. This draft contained a number of updates to the Immigration Act that came into effect on the 1st of December. Thankfully all the amendments were positive!

Let’s take a look at the amendments contained in the draft:

Children travelling to and from South Africa

The visa requirements for children travelling in and out of South Africa has been a thorn in the side for parents and the tourism industry alike. The new regulations make travelling with children slightly easier.

1. For South African children:

South African children must still travel with a birth certificate and passport containing the details of the parent or parents. When the child is travelling on his or her own, or with only one parent, a letter of consent is also still required. However, an affidavit is no longer necessary in these cases.  

2. For foreign children:

For children who are not South Africans and who are travelling with one parent, the legislation has been changed from ‘must’ produce a birth certificate to ‘may be required’. However, it is advised to still travel with all documents as required before this amendment.

In cases where both parents are travelling with the foreign child, birth certificates are no longer required at all. This group benefits the most from the amendments to this part of the Act.

Please note: Border control and airline check-in staff at various countries around the world are still in the process of being updated on the new laws and therefore laws may not be implemented as yet. Please check with your airline or travel agent when booking any flights, for example.

Permanent residence for a foreign parent based on a South African child

In 2014 it was legislated that in cases where foreigners apply for permanent residence based on their relationship with a South African citizen, the South African must be able to financially support the foreigner.

This made it impossible for foreign parents to a South African minor to apply for a permanent residence, as a minor child can obviously not provide financial support.

Now it seems that the Department of Home Affairs realized the errors of their ways. The need to amendments in the Draft regulate that it’s no longer necessary to prove financial support from the minor South African child.

Life partnership interviews

The amendments in the draft states that life partner applicants ‘may be interviewed’ when submitting their visa. Previously an interview was a ‘must’ – in other words, an interview used to be definite requirement, but it is no longer.

We’d also like to clear up a misunderstanding that’s causing a great amount of chaos – due to a wording change in the draft, it seems as if it’s impossible for life partners to apply for permanent residence. We’d like to assure you that life partners can definitely still apply for permanent residence, provided the applicant can meet all the criteria. 

General work visas

In the case of general work visas, the Department of Labour used to issue a certificate of recommendation to the Department of Home Affairs or the relevant embassy. Now, the Department of Labour will issue a letter of recommendation directly to the prospective employer instead.

This means the employer will now know if the recommendation was positive or not much earlier in the process and before the foreign national applies for their work visa.

Visas for religious leaders

Previously, religious leaders had to apply for a waiver and then a general work visa. Subsequent to the amendments, religious leaders can now apply for a long-term visitor visa valid for up to three years.


If you have any questions or concerns about these amendments, please do not hesitate to contact us for clarification. You can either call us on +27 (0) 21 424 2460 or email us. Our immigration consultants are more than happy to assist.