Quick Assessment

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a visa?

Every country has the sovereign right to decide who may or may not enter its territory. The purpose of a visa on the one hand is to ensure proper screening of applicants so that prohibited persons and undesirable persons are not admitted to the Republic of South Africa and on the other hand to facilitate the entry of approved applicants at South African ports of entry.

Visas provide immigration officers with the necessary information to ensure that applicants are admitted for the correct purpose and period into the Republic of South Africa.

Possession of a visa does not guarantee the holder automatic admission into the Republic of South Africa. A visa only authorises the holder to proceed to the Republic to report to an immigration officer at a port of entry for the purpose of being examined as to his/her ability to comply with the (entry) requirements of the Immigration Act, 2002 (Act No. 13 of 2002), as amended.

Who does not need a visa?

Citizens who are the holders of national passports (diplomatic, official and ordinary) or travel documents of certain foreign countries, territories and international organisations are exempt from the South African visa requirement for a specific period e.g. German citizens holding German passports for a period of ninety (90) days, and in respect of purposes for which a port of entry visa may be issued e.g. holiday, business meetings, and when in transit.

Who needs a visa?

Foreigners who are not passport / travel document holders who are exempt from the South African visa requirement are subject to visa control and must therefore apply for and be issued with port of entry visas at a South African mission abroad, before proceeding to the Republic of South Africa; such visas must be affixed in the applicants' passports before departing to the Republic of South Africa. Port of entry visas are not issued on arrival at South African ports of entry to foreigners who are subject to South African visa control – such foreigners arriving without visas shall be refused entry into the Republic of South Africa and placed on return flights.

Port of entry visa

May be issued for a period not exceeding three (3) months for the purpose of:

  1. holiday

  2. business meetings

  3. attending conferences, seminars or sports events

  4. a person, who is the spouse or dependent child of the holder of a valid visitor’s visa, study visa, treaty visa, business visa, medical treatment visa, relative’s visa, work visa, retired person visa or exchange visa

  5. studies not exceeding three (3) months

  6. medical treatment not exceeding three (3) months

  7. academic sabbaticals not exceeding three (3) months

  8. voluntary or charitable activities not exceeding three (3) months (applicants must be over the age of 18)

  9. research not exceeding three (3) months

What visa is needed to conduct short term or urgent work?

All foreigners who intend conducting short term or urgent work in the Republic of South Africa, including, but not limited, to service technicians, trainers / instructors and film crews, for a period not exceeding three (3) months must hold authorisation to conduct work in terms of section 11(2), which must be applied for and issued at a South African foreign mission, before travelling to the Republic of South Africa.

  • Section 11(2) authorisation to conduct work on a visitor’s visa

  • Service technicians (installation, repair and maintenance work)

  • Photo shoots and film crews

When does a temporary residence visa issued abroad become valid?

Possession of a visa does not guarantee the holder automatic admission into the Republic of South Africa. A temporary residence visa issued at a foreign mission of the Republic of South Africa is deemed to be of force and effect only after an admission i.e. a temporary residence visa shall be affixed to the passport of the applicant and shall only be valid if an entry stamp has been affixed thereto at the port of entry and the date of such entry stamp shall be the effective date.

Types of temporary residence visas

  • Visitor’s visa to engage in an academic sabbatical (longer than 3 months)

  • Visitor’s visa to engage in voluntary or charitable activities (longer than 3 months)

  • Visitor’s visa to engage in research (longer than 3 months)

  • Visitor’s visa to engage in any other prescribed activity (longer than 3 months)

  • Visitor’s visa in respect of an accompanying spouse or dependent children (longer than 3 months)
     

  • Study visa (longer than 3 months)

  • Study visa for high school exchange (longer than 3 months)

  • Study visa to engage in a medical elective or clinical traineeship (longer than 3 months)
     

  • Treaty visa
     

  • Own business visa
     

  • Medical treatment visa
     

  • Relative’s visa
     

  • Critical skills work visa

  • General work permit

  • Intra-company transfer work visa
     

  • Retired person visa
     

  • Corporate worker certificate
     

  • Exchange visa (for participants in an established exchange programme)

  • Exchange visa (to conduct work for persons under the age of 25)
     

  • Temporary residence visas for a foreign spouse of a SA citizen or permanent resident

 

Can visa requirements be waived?

Yes. Upon application, the Minister of Home Affairs may, for good cause, waive any prescribed requirement or form. Please note that the waiver request must be submitted and approved by the Department of Home Affairs in Pretoria, before the visa application can be submitted. Contact us for assistance.

Can an applicant appeal against a decision to refuse a visa?

Yes. An applicant, who wishes to appeal, must make representations to the Department of Home Affairs to review a decision within ten (10) working days of receiving such decision. We will gladly assist you.

Are there additional requirements for minor children travelling to and from the Republic of South Africa?

Yes. The additional requirements for minor children travelling to and from the Republic of South Africa have been in effect since 1 June 2015 and are aimed at establishing the principle that all minor children require the consent of their parents when traveling into or out of the Republic. We will gladly assist you.

Can a visitor’s visa for holiday purposes be extended in the Republic of South Africa?

Yes. The Immigration Act, as amended, makes provisions for an application for a once-off renewal / extension of a visitor’s visa for a further period, which shall not exceed three months – such application must be submitted in person via a VFS office in the Republic of South Africa no less than 60 days prior to the expiry of his or her visitor’s visa and if the visa was issued for less than 30 days, not later than 7 working days before the expiry of the visa. We will gladly assist you.

When is a yellow fever vaccination certificate required for entry into the Republic of South Africa?

In line with the International Health Regulations, 2005, South Africa requires a valid yellow fever certificate from all citizens and non-citizens over one year of age:

  • travelling from a yellow fever risk country; or

  • having been in transit exceeding 12 hours, through the airport of a country with risk of yellow fever transmission.

Can a visitor’s visa for holiday purposes be changed to another visa type / purpose in the Republic of South Africa?

No. While, the Immigration Act, as amended, makes provisions for a foreigner, who is in the Republic of South Africa, to apply for a change of status or terms and conditions relating to his or her visa, a person who is on a visitor’s visa or medical treatment visa may not change his or her status whilst in the Republic of South Africa, except in exceptional circumstances.

Can an appeal against a declaration of undesirability be submitted at a South Africa mission abroad?

No. A South Africa mission abroad  does not have the authority to repeal or adjudicate an appeal against a declaration of undesirability administered to a foreigner on departing the Republic of South Africa. Such an appeal must be lodged directly to the Department of Home Affairs. We will gladly assist you.