Clarity on Visas and Permits during COVID-19

The Department of Home Affairs has issued a statement clarifying a number of points relevant to non-South Africans inside the country, and to those wishing to travel or move here. These exemptions remain valid until 31 July 2020.

1. Anyone who legally entered South Africa, whose visa expired on or after 15 February 2020 and who has not yet applied for an extension or change, will not be arrested, detained, declared illegal or a prohibited person.
2. NEW: Persons who leave South Africa after the lockdown, can do so without first applying for an extension of their visa, and will not be declared undesirable. NOTE: It is not clear how soon after the end of lockdown a person must leave the country in order to benefit from this exemption, and one may assume that it will be within a reasonable time to allow for securing the first available flight.
3. Those wishing to stay in South Africa and whose visas expired on or after 15 February 2020 (including those who already had VFS appointments, which were cancelled due to the lockdown), are called to reapply for their visas immediately after the end of lockdown; they will not have to be “legalised” first.
4. Applicants for work, study and business visas whose applications were made impossible or delayed due to the lockdown, may conduct their work, studies or business after the lockdown until they receive the results to their pending applications.
5. The visas issued to nationals of high risk countries which were revoked in March, remain so revoked, and new applications will have to be made.
6. Outside of official repatriation schemes arranged by foreign states, no foreigners may leave South Africa during lockdown.
7. Holders of the Lesotho Special Permit have up to 15 June 2020 to submit their applications for the Lesotho Exemption Permit. The Lesotho Special Permits which expired on 31 December 2019 remain valid until 15 June 2020. No new applications will be taken.
8. Any asylum seeker whose permit expired between 16 March 2020 and the end of the lockdown period will not be penalised or arrested, provided that they reapply for their permit within 30 calendar days of the end of the lockdown.

Nothing in this article should be construed as constituting legal advice or a legal opinion An expert should be consulted for advice based on the facts and circumstances of each application or case. Even though great care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information provided, IMCOSA does not accept any responsibility for consequences of decisions taken based on any part thereof. Our IMCOSA consultants will gladly advise you in detail and relevant to your individual situation.