South Africa Bans Tourists and Implements Immigration Procedures for those Unable to Leave the Country in wake of COVID-19

The South Africa Minister of Department of Home Affairs released a Directive clarifying the implementation of COVID-19 Epidemic travel ban and associated restrictions.  Tourist visas normally issued upon entry have been suspended,  visas of Chinese and Iranian nationals revoked, and most travelers banned. For those unable to leave the South Africa, visas will be extended until July 31, 2020.

For those who are currently outside of South Africa

The 90-day Visa waiver/exemption applicable to Italian, South Korean, Spanish, German, American and British (U.K.) passport holders, which allowed for them to be issued with Visitor’s Visas upon arrival in the country, has been withdrawn with immediate effect.  Holders of these passports will be refused entry to South Africa if they are not in possession of a Port of Entry Visa prior to travel.  (This visa will have to be applied for, and issued, by the South African Diplomatic Mission abroad prior to travel.)  It is currently not possible for nationals resident in these countries to apply for visas.

Foreign nationals who depart for South Africa from China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Germany, the U.S.A. and the U.K. will be not allowed to enter South Africa. This applies to nationals of any country whose travel originates in these countries and not only citizens of these countries. Equally, foreign nationals who have visited these countries since March 15, 2020 (citizens and non-citizens) do not qualify to be issued with Port of Entry Visas or Temporary Residence Visas until further notice.

All Port of Entry Visas issued to Chinese and Iranian passport holders on or before March 15, 2020, for the purposes of visiting South Africa, are deemed to be cancelled and declared null and void. This does not apply to all categories of Temporary Residence Visa.

The 90-day visa waiver/exemption applicable to Portuguese and Singaporean passport holders and the 30-day visa waiver/exemption applicable to Hong Kong Special Administrative Region passport holders, which allowed for them to be issued with Visitor’s Visas upon arrival in the country has also been withdrawn with immediate effect. Holders of these passports will be refused entry to South Africa if they are not in possession of a Port of Entry Visa prior to travel. They may apply for visas at the South African Missions in their countries of citizenship or ordinary residence; however, they must include an official medical report completed by a qualified medical professional confirming that they have not tested positive for Covid-19.

For those who are currently within South Africa

The visas of foreign nationals already within South Africa are not revoked; they remain valid for the period for which they have been issued. All foreign nationals originating from countries affected by the Covid-19 outbreak, or those who have to transit through an affected country to return home, and whose visas have or will expire are allowed to re-apply for the same visa which may be issued for a period not exceeding July 31, 2020, subject to meeting all legal application requirements; however, this does not include applications to change status from one visa category to another or to change the conditions endorsed on an existing visa. Those whose visas expired from December 1, 2019 up to and including present date and until March 31, 2020 will be allowed to reapply for their visas without first having to apply to regularize their stays by applying for a “Form 20”. (Authorisation for an illegal foreigner to remain in the country pending the outcome of an application for status.)

For more information on South Africa and other international travel updates, contact Jet Stigter.