Minister for the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, has issued Immigration Directive 12 of 2021 to relevant immigration authorities, outlining temporary measures for foreign nationals entering South Africa. The directive begins with straightforward commentary on the international travel bans imposed on SA after the discovery of the Covid-19 Omicron variant.

“As the international community has taken a decision to close their borders, airlines have restricted flights to several destinations and H.E President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call on 27 November to lift these travel bans have (sic) been met with golden silence, I, in my capacity as Minister of Home Affairs have had to introduce some temporary measures on all foreign nationals who need to enter the Republic of South Africa, or who have already entered the Republic and are awaiting the outcome of waiver and visa applications, or those who cannot return to their respective countries of embarkation due to travel bans and whose visas have expired or are due to expire.”

NB: As above, this directive only applies to foreign nationals whose visas have already expired or are due to expire, and were originally legally admitted into SA.

The following measures apply with immediate effect:

Foreign nationals who have applied for waivers and are awaiting outcomes

If you are awaiting the outcome of a waiver application, a “blanket temporary extension” has been granted until 31 March 2022. This will allow capacity for the DHA to continue processing waiver applications, so that applicants may collect outcomes and submit applications for appropriate residency visas.

If you would like to stop your waiver application and leave SA, you will be allowed to exit at ports of entry on or before 31 March 2022 without receiving a declaration of undesirability.

Foreign nationals awaiting visa application approvals

If your visa application is pending, a blanket extension applies until 31 March 2022 from your current visa status. If you wish to stop your visa application and leave the country, you may do so on or before this date, without being declared undesirable.

It is important to note that applicants still may not engage in activities outside of the scope of their current visa conditions.

If you are awaiting a Long-Term Visa application outcome and originate from a visa-exempt country, you will be allowed to travel over the Festive Season by submitting a VFS receipt on return to SA to collect your application outcome. If, however, you originate from a visa-restricted country, you will need a port of entry visa and VFS receipt to re-enter SA.

Visitor Visas

Foreign nationals who entered SA legally from 1 October 2021 (when SA moved to Level 1) whose visas are due to or have expired, and are affected by international travel bans, are also granted the blanket extension until 31 March 2022. They may leave on or before the date without being declared undesirable. Therefore, visitors flying back after 31 March 2022 must apply for visa extensions in line with the SA Immigration Act.

Permanent Residence Permits

To accommodate school-going minors of foreign nationals who have been granted permanent residence, but cannot enter SA on or before 31 December 2021, a blanket extension until 31 July 2022 applies.

We will continue to keep you updated with the latest Immigration Directives as we receive them.

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