Start Extending Your Visa Now
With South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa, stating that the coronavirus is a, “national disaster”, in the country of South Africa on the 15th of March 2020, foreigners who are currently here, whether visiting family, studying, currently employed or simply here on holiday, should look into ways on how to take care of themselves and their stay in South Africa. With travel bans being put in place, as well as the increase in cost of flights and the decrease in their frequency back to anywhere in the world, extending your visa status may just be the solution for you.
We at KVN Attorneys are here to ensure that you can still stay and live in South Africa, hassle free. We offer a full range of services and are prepared to help you during this difficult time and help take care of your visas for you.
However, understanding how the coronavirus is going to affect immigration in South Africa is vitality important at this stage and will ultimately govern your decision for what you next step is in South Africa. Prior to the mass spreading of COVID-19 across Europe and the Americas, the South African government had already released a directive for Chinese peoples in South Africa, it is the following:
- Chinese nationals holding Intra-Company Transfer Work Visas which are due to expire on or before 31 July 2020 may apply to change their statuses to a Visitor’s Visa in terms of section 11(1)(a) of the Immigration Act, endorsed for work in terms of section 11(2) of the said Act, subject to meeting application requirements, valid for up to 6 months (180 days); however, no change of status to any other visa category or change of conditions on the visa will be accommodated.
- Chinese nationals holding Visitor’s Visas issued in terms of section 11(a) of the Act, which includes a holiday or business visitor, who has reached the legal maximum period of residence of six months in total will be allowed to apply for a new Visitor’s Visa in the same category valid for a further period of three months (90 days); however, no change of status to any other visa category or change of conditions on the visa will be accommodated.
Chinese nationals holding any Temporary Residence Visa which expired from 1 December 2019, up to and including 29 February 2020, will be allowed to submit a renewal application based on their expired visa without first having to apply to regularize their stay in the form of an ‘Authorization for an illegal foreigner to remain in the country pending an application for status’ as contemplated in Form 20 in annexure A to the Immigration Regulations.
Why is this important you may ask?
Well, being that China is no longer the only country in the world that is majorly affected by the coronavirus and its mass spreading, the South African government released directive no 7 of 2020 on the 18th of March which stated the following:
- All foreign nationals who are already in South Africa, on a temporary work visa, and originate from a country that is affected by COVID-19 or who needs to transit through a country that is affected by COVID-19 to reach their country of origin, may apply to have their visa renewed.
Re-applying can be done for everyone’s visa which is close to expiring or which is already expired, given that you meet the requirements again to re-apply.
- All foreign nationals who are in South Africa on a temporary residence visa ( which already expired since 01 of December 2019, and or that may expire up until the 31 of March 2020), who also originate from a country that is affected by COVID-19 or who needs to transit through a country that is affected by COVID-19 to reach their country of origin, may re-apply for this visa without having to obtain FORM 20.
KVN Attorneys can offer you guidance and solutions to situations you may currently be in above ones that have been already mentioned. Below we have highlighted 3 scenarios that you, as a foreigner, may find yourself in. Keeping this in mind, we are able to offer the right solution for you, with our immigration lawyers being hands-on every step of the way.
Scenario 1: I am a foreigner in South Africa on holiday, currently on a visitor’s visa and my visa is close to expiry?
Most visas can be renewed, but the visitor’s visa can be extended for a longer period. A holder of a South African Visitors Visa can apply for one extension per visit. Extensions can be applied for up to an additional 90 days (3 months). This will ensure that you are able to stay in South Africa legally and continue your stay, stress free. If you have entered the country and are not sure if you qualify for a visa extension, please contact us and we will review your situation. If you are from a visa exempt country, you can enter South Africa and will automatically receive up to 30 to 90 days. Contacts us here in order to benefit from a full consultation.
Scenario 2: I am a foreigner in South Africa and my temporary work visa expires in a couple months?
Given the current situation in the world with the coronavirus, it is most likely that some more countries will start to close their boarders. As per directive no 7 of 2020, all foreign nationals who are already in South Africa, on a temporary work visa, and originate from a country that is affected by COVID-19 or who needs to transit through a country that is affected by COVID-19 to reach their country of origin, may apply to have their visa renewed. Re-applying can be done, given that you meet the requirements again to re-apply. One must also note that you might qualify for permanent residence.
Scenario 3: I have overstayed my current visa due to the coronavirus pandemic and was unable to get back home due to travel bans
Under the amended South African Immigration Act 13 of 2002, foreign nationals overstaying their South Africa visa will be deemed as “undesirable”. In the event that you have overstayed any visa, because you were unable to leave South Africa due to legitimate reasons out of your control (such as travel bans or restrictions), then we at Black Pen will be able to help you with your overstay appeal. An overstay appeal is when one of our immigration lawyers will appeal to the South African government to withdraw the undesirability, because there were reasons out of your control that prevented you from leaving (good cause). These reasons must be proven from your end. The appeal will be done after you have left the country and our immigration lawyers in South Africa will handle the appeal with the South African Home Affairs Office and work towards getting the undesirability uplifted.
However, these 3 situations are only a few that may occur. Below you will find a list, which highlights some other situations, that a foreigner in South Africa may currently face at this time:
- Travelers from affected countries, may have their visa application delayed or cancelled in order to prevent further travel to South Africa. Visa applicants from countries such as Italy, China, Spain, Germany, UK, South Korea, USA and Iran, where the virus is very high-risk will immediately have their visas cancelled.
- Foreign travelers, who have been through any of the high-risk countries in the last 20 days, will be denied a South African visa.
- South Africans who have travelled in or through any high-risk countries in the last 20 days are subjected to being tested and mandatory self-isolation/quarantine for a duration of at least 2 weeks on return to South Africa.
- Travelers from medium risk countries will require testing, these countries include Portugal, Hong Kong, and Singapore
- ALL travelers who have arrived into the country from mid-February will be required to bring themselves forward for testing.
- All 3 major airports in South Africa, OR Tambo, Cape Town International and King Shaka International will have strengthened surveillance, screening and testing measures.