South Africa puts pause on recently announced visa validity change

23 Feb 17



What is the change? South African authorities have said they will put recently announced changes on the validity period of visas on hold pending further discussions.

What does the change mean? Visas will remain valid beyond the expiration date of a visa holder’s passport and, pending further notification, authorities will continue to recognize the transfer of an existing visa from an old passport to a new passport. A Department of Home Affairs instruction that had aimed to change these rules has been scrapped.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate and ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: All South African visas.
  • Who is affected: Foreign nationals holding or applying for South African visas.  
  • Impact on processing times: The change is significant because, pending further notification, foreign nationals will not have to obtain new visas when their passports expire.
  • Business impact: The shift in policy eliminates significant administrative burdens that would have been added to the visa process had South Africa pushed ahead with the policy announced earlier in February.
  • Next steps: Government officials were expected to meet this week to discuss this matter; but for now, employers and foreign nationals may continue operating under the rules as they existed before the government announced that the validity of a visa could not continue after the expiration of a passport.

Background: South African authorities said earlier this month that visas would automatically expire 30 days before the expiration date on a visa holder’s passport, regardless of for how long the visa was initially issued. BAL has learned, however, that the government has put this change on hold and will discuss the matter further. This means that for visas issued with a validity period that extends beyond the validity period of a passport, authorities will allow visa holders to travel into South Africa with their expired passport, their visa and their new passport. Those already in South Africa can transfer their visa from an old passport to a new passport.

BAL Analysis: South Africa’s reversal on a policy that would have created extensive administrative burdens on employers and visa holders is welcome news. That said, officials appear to be reviewing the policy, and additional change is still possible. BAL will continue to follow events in South Africa and will update clients on any significant changes on this matter.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in South Africa. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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