On Tuesday 25 September 2018, following concerns raised by the tourism sector, Home Affairs Minister, Malusi Gigaba, announced amendments to visa regulations. Changes announced include the following:
Travelling with minors
Documentation proving parental consent for a minor to travel is no longer a requirement. However, it is strongly recommended that travellers carry this documentation. Immigration officials will only insist on documentation by exception – in high risk situations – rather than for all travellers, in line with practice by several other countries. Also, rather than denying entry where documentation is absent, travellers will be given an opportunity to prove parental consent. These changes will be implemented in good time for the festive season when many people would be travelling with children.
South Africans will still be required to prove parental consent and have an unabridged birth certificate if they want to travel abroad with their minor children.
Gigaba also announced a passport for minors that will eventually see the end of unabridged birth certificates as the document will have the contact details of both parents.
The Department is reviewing the visa regime for other Africa countries in line with the African free movement agenda. Negotiations are being finalised to conclude Visa Waiver Agreements for ordinary passport holders with Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Sao Tome & Principe, Tunisia, Saharawi-Arab Democratic Republic, Ghana, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, State of Palestine, Iran, Lebanon, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Belarus, Georgia and Cuba.
Simplification of visa requirements
The Department is simplifying visa requirements for countries such as China and India. This will make provision for taking biometrics on arrival in South Africa; allowing visa applications via courier and issuing 5-year multiple entry visas. The Department is also consider easing, similarly, travel restrictions for certain categories of visitors for other countries, including Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda.
Long term multiple entry visas
The Department has implemented long term multiple entry visas for frequent travellers, namely:
- A three-year multiple entry visa for frequent trusted travellers to South Africa, and
- A ten-year long-term multiple entry visa for business people and academics from Africa.
Business people from BRICS countries who require visas (China and India) are issued a 10-year multiple entry visa, within 5 days of application. They do not need to apply in person, and can use courier services.
The development of e-Visa is at an advanced stage and will be piloted in New Zealand, by April 2019. This will significantly enhance efficiency in the issuing of visas to tourists and business people visiting our country.
We will begin piloting e-Gates at OR Tambo, Cape Town and King Shaka International Airports by 2019. This will allow returning South African citizens, as well as certain categories of trusted travellers, to be processed electronically rather than having to interact with an immigration officer.