South Africa is overhauling its controversial visa regulations that saw a 6% decrease in arrivals – the worst industry performance since 2009, at the height of the global financial crisis – but the changes are not in effect as yet.
The Cabinet approved recommendations by the Inter Ministerial Committee (IMC) tasked with evaluating the immigration rules and its unintended consequences are expected to be implemented during the next three months.
Cabinet says all other administrative issues affecting the relevant departments will be resolved through inter-departmental engagements, without compromising the safety of the children travelling to and from the country.
Introduced in June, the new rules required visitors to apply for visas in person at South African embassies to have their biometric information taken as well for children travelling in and out of South Africa to produce an unabridged birth certificate, which details the particulars of both the mother and the father of the child.
Here’s what you need to know about the department of home affairs changes to SA’s visa rules:
- In countries where there is no South African mission, the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) will accept applications by post.
- This will apply for tourist and medical visitors only.
- Postal applications will see biometrics of travellers, including finger prints and photos, captured on arrival at ports of entry.
- Biometric pilot site ports of entry are OR Tambo Airport, King Shaka Airport, Cape Town International Airport.
- Countries like China, India and Russia, certain measures will be put in place to ease the process of application, in particular for tourists.
- South African children travelling out of the country will still be required to submit the current child-travel requirements, including a parental consent affidavit as a means to protect minors.
- The validity of this affidavit will be extended to no longer than six months.
- Details of parents will also be printed in passports, so that parents whose particulars are printed would therefore not be required to carry the birth certificates. (However the DHA advises that this form of identification still be carried as a form of proof.
- For inbound travellers, the proof of original birth certificates or certified copies would only be required during the application process, as this is in line with practise in many other countries. (As is the case with the South African Children travelling in and out of South Africa, the DHA advises that this form of identification still be carried and will reserve the right to investigate suspected child trafficking on a case by case basis.)
- Cabinet also approved changing the term “unabridged birth certificate” to “birth certificate containing parental details”.
- DHA is also considering long-term multiple entry visas for frequent travellers.
Make sure to enter all the details precisely on the passport application form as even a single mistake can ban you from taking a flight.
“Cabinet has mandated DHA to put in place the necessary legal instruments to give effect to this decision. The status quo will remain until such time the DHA has provided a legal instrument for this category of travellers. In the meantime travellers are encouraged to comply,” says the DHA.