Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What documentation must I hand in at the South African mission if I want to apply for a visa?
A. Refer to South African visa page for details on procedures and requirements.
Q. How long does it take to process a visa application?
A. The normal processing period is 2-3 months
Q. Why can visas not be issued at the airport?
A. In terms of current legislation a person must already be in possession of a visa before he/she arrives at the South African port of entry. A visa informs the immigration officer that the bona fides of the foreigner has already been determined in the pre-screening process.
Q. Do I need to apply for a visa before visiting South Africa?
A. To find out if you require a visa or pay South African visa tariffs, please see the list of countries exempt from visa control
Q. What is the purpose of the expiry date on the visa and how must the period of validity of the visitor’s permit be calculated?
A. The expiry date on the visa states within which period the foreigner must enter the Republic. Upon admission the visa is deemed to be a visitor’s permit. The endorsement on the visa determines for which period the visitor’s permit will be valid, e.g. “To be admitted for a period of 30 days”. The calculation for the expiry date of the permit is made from the date of entry. The actual expiry date is not endorsed on the permit.
Q. How do I extend my visa/Permit?
A. Once a person gets to the South African port of entry, e.g. Johannesburg International Airport, the visa is regarded as a visitor’s permit. A foreigner should contact any regional or district office of the Department of Home Affairs to apply for the extension of the visitor’s
Q. May I apply on behalf of , e.g. my mother? She is old and from a country where South Africa does not have a mission.
A. The application must be submitted at the nearest South African embassy or mission. The applicant does not need to go to the mission in person but may make use of courier services or travel agents to submit the application. The mission needs the physical passport to endorse the visa in the passport
Q. I am a South African and married to, e.g. a Bulgarian, and want to bring my wife / husband to the RSA. What type of permit must I apply for?
A. A relative’s permit
Q. I am working in the entertainment industry, e.g. film producer, model, photographer and involved in the shooting of a film in the RSA. Do I need a visa?
A. Any person who intends to practice his / her profession in the RSA for a period not exceeding six months require authorization in terms of section 11(2) of the Act to do so on his / her visitor’s permit Should he / she be exempt from visa control he / she may proceed to the port of entry with letters from the agency / company locally / abroad confirming the foreigners’ full particulars, purpose & period of visit and designation. The Immigration Officer will then issue the visitor’s permit with the authorization at the port of entry. The permit will be valid for the period of the exemption (30 /90 days) and may be extended once for another 90 days. Should the foreigner be subject to visa control he / she must apply for a visa and the authorization to work on the visitor’s permit at a South African Representative abroad. Should it be approved the foreigner will be issued with a visa with the authorization to work endorsed on it and will be allowed to stay for a maximum period of 90 days and may apply once for an extension of 90 days. For a visit that will exceed six months the foreigner must apply for a work permit.
Q. I am arranging an international conference, what are the visa requirements and may I apply on behalf of applicants at your office in the RSA
A. The following documents will be required when applying for visas to attend conferences:
Refer to South African visa page for details on procedures and requirements, application form, etc.
The application must be supported by an invitation letter to the conference.
Once the Department has been informed of the conference taking place, a blanket approval will be sent to all South African representatives abroad authorizing them to issue visas to delegates, provided nothing detrimental is known and all the visa requirements are met. This procedure will facilitate the delegates when applying for their visas.
An extensive collection of frequently asked questions on temporary residence issues is available in PDF format.
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Q. How and where do I apply for permanent residence/immigration in/to South Africa?
A. Refer to the Immigration Policy page for more information on procedures and requirements
Refugees and Asylum
Q. Can a refugee apply for permanent residence in South Africa?
A. In terms of Section 27 (C) of the Refugees Act ( 130 of 1998), ” A refugee is entitled to apply for an immigration permit in terms of the Aliens Control Act, 1991, after five years’ continuous residence in the Republic from the date on which he or she was granted asylum, if the Standing Committee certifies he or she will remain a refugee indefinitely “.
Q. Can asylum seekers apply for Identity Documents?
A. Only recognised refugees can apply for identity documents in terms of Section 27 (d) of the Refugees Act.
Q. How long does an application for asylum take?
A. In terms of the Refugees Act, an asylum application should be adjudicated within 180 days, including the appeal.
Q. How many illegal immigrants are estimated to be is South Africa?
A. It is impossible to determine the number of illegal aliens in the country at any given time as these persons enter the country clandestinely. However, in a study that was done by the Human Science Research Council in 1996 it was estimated that between 2.5 and 4.1 million persons reside in the RSA illegally.
Q. Which countries do the majority of illegal immigrants originate from?
A. Illegal aliens are traced from all over the world but the majority originates from Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Asia and Europe.
Q. What are the financial implications of deporting a single illegal immigrant?
A. The costs of removing persons to their countries of origin depends on different circumstances, i.e. to remove someone by air will cost considerably more than removal by train to countries such as Mozambique or Zimbabwe. The removal by train to Mozambique costs R35.00 and to Zimbabwe R29.00 per person. It is estimated that the Department spends R35m annually on repatriations and deportations. This amount does not include salaries and accommodation costs.
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