The controversial new visa laws for visitors to South Africa are being changed after cabinet approved recommendations by the IMC (Inter Ministerial Committee) last week. The tourism industry took a hammering (estimated to be in the billions of Rands) this year with a significant drop in arrivals due to visa restrictions implemented in June that included tourists having to apply in person for visas at SA embassies as well as needing an unabridged birth certificate for minors. SA citizens will still have to carry unabridged birth certificates of children they are travelling with.
The new rule changes will allow tourists to apply for a SA tourist visa by post and the proof of original birth certificates or certified copies would only be required during the application process instead of having to trave with it.
Here are the new changes which are still yet to go into effect
-In countries where there is no SA mission, the Department of Home Affairs will receive applications, including by post, and capture biometrics of travellers on arrival at ports of entry.
-To address concerns around the geographical spread of countries like China, India and Russia, certain measures will be put in place to ease the process of application, in particular for tourists.
-In respect of inbound travel where visas are required, it will still be required that original birth certificates and, as necessary, parental consent or certified copies are submitted during the visa application process.
In order to implement Cabinet decisions on this matter, the Department will do the following:
In the next three months,
-Implement the capturing of biometrics at ports of entry starting with a pilot at OR Tambo, King Shaka and Cape Town airports,
-Look at introducing an Accredited Tourism Company Programme for countries like China, India and Russia,
-Consider a long-term Multiple Entry Visa for a period exceeding 3 months and up to 3 years for frequent travellers (for business meetings), business people and academics,
-Principals will issue letters confirming permission for children to travel on school tours,
Extend the validity of the parental consent affidavit to 6 months.
Within a year,
-Add visa facilitation centres, including in Zimbabwe, United Arab Emirates and Botswana,
-Consider a visa-waiver for India, China, Russia and other countries,
-Look at issuing visas on arrival for persons travelling to SA having in their passports valid visas for the UK, USA and Canada or any other country that applies stringent checks on visitors to their countries, to ease travel for tourists,
-Consider granting a certain category of frequent travellers (business and academics) from Africa a 10 year Multiple Entry Visitor’s Visa,
-Open two Business Visa Facilitation Centres in Durban and Port Elizabeth, in addition to the centre recently opened in Sandton,
-Print parents’ details in their passports so that they do not have to carry birth certificates.
In the long term, one year and beyond,
-Install systems for pre-flight checks at international airports,
-Upgrade Advance Passenger Processing systems and implement Passenger Name Record, to enhance risk assessment,
-Finalise automation of the visa and permitting system
Now you know.
[via Home Affairs]