URGENT visa changes- South Africa

Happy Friday to one and all. Thank you for reading my second blog- I hope my blogging skills go from strength to strength and I would like to engage with my audience to enquire as to whether there are any topics you would like me to write about? The aim of my blog is to keep everyone updated with current tax, immigration and sponsored employment changes, but I would also like to tackle queries our clients may have.

The subject I will be waxing lyrical about today, is the importance of tracking passport expiration dates and applying for new passports. This article is spurred on by the sudden changes to South African visa regulations.

All foreign nationals currently holding South African visas should check the expiration date on their passport. The current expiry date of their passport is the date which now dictates the expiration date of their visa, regardless of how long the visa was issued for.

An example would be John Smith- who received a 5 year Critical Skill visa last year, but his passport is expiring at the end of the month- so this means his 5 year visa is no longer valid for the full 5 years, but will expire month end.

This rule has been implemented immediately with less than a weeks’ notice. This affects all categories of South African Visas and will create a storm in a tea cup administratively as all employees are now encouraged to track the validity of each foreigners passport and if passports are expired or coming close to expiration, a new visa will have to be applied for,

Those who’s passports have already expired and are in the process of waiting for or applying for new passports, are now currently illegally in the country and would have to apply for a letter of good cause from home affairs, which will legally allow them to apply for a new permit with the new passport in South Africa. Obtaining the letter of good cause is  no easy task- the process can take up to 6 weeks due to limited staffing and bureaucracy.  If anyone has 30 days or less on their passport- It is recommended that the contractor leave the country ASAP and apply for a new passport and visa application in their country of origin. If the applicant flies while the passport has expired, the contractor will be slapped with an Undesirability letter at the airport which bans the applicant from returning to South Africa for a minimum of one year!!!

If the contractor is declared undesirable, they can have the undesirability revoked or overturned, however- applications for overstays are currently taking up to 4 months and they will not be allowed to return to South Africa until their ban has been revoked.

South Africa used to be fairly lenient whereby they would issue a work visa for the full 5 years regardless of whether the passport expired in 6 months or one year. The applicant could then transfer the old permit into the new passport at a VFS centre.

If you currently have contractors in South Africa and want to query the validity of the visa- please email us on U2us@uniglo-financial.com ASAP. Alternatively, if you require any additional information on visa and payroll requirements for South Africa- Please contact us in the above mentioned email address.

Have a great weekend.