Visa – General information
In addition to the information provided on this site, this article deals with the issuing of South African visas. At the outset, it should be mentioned that immigration law changes in May 2014 use the word “visa” for temporary residence and the word permit only for permanent residence. Immigration involves the issuing of a temporary visa or permanent residence permit, with a view to citizenship. A visitor’s visa is still issued to those on holiday or arriving as tourists.
Every year, many people visit South Africa on a very temporary basis. The 2010 FIFA World Cup saw in excess of a million visitors arriving in the country.
In order to make a visa application, you must pay a visit to your local South African embassy or consul, or Visa Facilitation Service (VFS) office. For the purposes of a visa application, “local” means the country of which you are a citizen or in which you have permanent residence or hold a passport. It is usually impossible to apply for a visa once you are in South Africa, so make sure that your visa has been properly issued before you arrive.
At this time, the fee for issuing a visa is ZAR425. The South African Department of Home Affairs, which issues the visas, requires waiting period of ten days.
Listed below are some essentials documents and particulars that need to be submitted when applying for a visa.
- Your passport. The passport must remain valid for at least 30 days after your visit ends
- Your passport must have at least one page open, so that it can be stamped at the airport by immigration officials. People have been denied entry to South Africa on occasion due to there being no open page in their passport, so make very sure about this
- Your payment of the required fee. Not all countries need to pay this fee, as not all countries actually require a visa to visit South Africa
- A certificate stating that you have been vaccinated against certain diseases
- An indication of the purpose of your visit, and how long you will be in the country
- Two photographs. These photographs need to meet certain criteria, which are listed below.
- Proof of your financial status, i.e. that you are able to support yourself financially in South Africa. This proof can take the form of
-a signed undertaking by your host in South Africa that you will be financially supported during your stay
-proof of a bursary;
-medical insurance or cover;
-proof of cash in your possession, such as travellers’ cheques and credit cards
- If you are arriving by air, you must be able to produce the following.
-a return or onward air ticket; or
-proof of enough money to support yourself; or
-you must make a cash deposit that will cover your airfare in case you are deported – this is a repatriation deposit
You do not necessarily have to make your visa application in person. However, concerning the two photographs, make VERY sure that they comply with the following requirements, as this can jeopardise your application.
- They must be identical, and not more than one month old.
- They must measure 45mm high and 35mm wide.
- Your face should occupy 70% to 80% of the picture. Try not to include too much of your shoulders.
- The photograph must be in pristine condition.
- In the photograph, you must be facing the camera directly. Do not turn to the side or look down.
- The colouring in the photograph must be accurate – it must genuinely look like you.
- Make sure that your face is not obscured by hair. Your eyes are important, and must be unobstructed. Make sure that they are not closed and that you are not wearing obstructive spectacles.
- The background should be white and entirely blank.
If you intend applying for a visa or permit, it makes sense to have a few photographs ready in case they are needed. They may also be needed for something else once you are in South Africa, such as a driver’s licence, which also requires a picture.
For more information on visas, it may be worth your while to visit the South African Department of Home Affairs website, which provides information on visas, permits, and frequently asked questions.