What is the change? Individuals from visa-waived countries should be aware of inconsistent implementations of Section 11(2) work authorization procedures by South African missions.

What does the change mean? Some South African missions are requiring visa-waived foreign nationals to apply in person for a Port of Entry Visa and Section 11(2) work authorization before traveling.

  • Implementation timeframe: Immediate and ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: 11(2) work authorization, Port of Entry Visa.
  • Who is affected: Foreign nationals from visa-waiver countries.
  • Impact on processing times: Depending on how the individual mission processes 11(2) requests, foreign nationals may have to obtain a Port of Entry visa and travel to the nearest South African mission in person.
  • Business impact: The additional requirements that some South African missions are imposing on foreign visa-waived nationals causes business disruption and adds time and expense to the process.
  • Next steps: Clients should keep in mind that each mission must be contacted to determine how it processes 11(2) work authorization requests, and clients should not assume they have the right to enter based on visa-exempt status.

Background: On April 30, 2013, the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) issued a directive to South African missions abroad, delegating powers to issue Section 11(2) work authorizations. DHA therein stopped issuing 11(2) approval letters at its head office, but did not give the missions further guidance on how to handle 11(2) requests. A section 11(2) authorization is an endorsement to a Visitor’s Visa that allows the individual to work.

Since South African missions took over this role, the procedures have differed from location to location in handling of 11(2) requests from visa-exempt nationals. Previously, visa-exempt nationals could obtain a Section 11(2) approval letter and then, upon entry in South Africa, have their passports endorsed with the 11(2) authorization. Currently, some missions are issuing the approval letter without further procedures. However, other missions are refusing to issue the 11(2) approval letter and instead require that the foreign visa-waived national apply for a Port of Entry Visa and 11(2) work authorization. In addition, the in-person requirement is being implemented inconsistently. While legally foreign nationals must appear in person to apply for Section 11(2) authorization, some South African missions require an appointment while others are allowing application by mail or courier.

BAL Analysis: Businesses and assignees should plan for the extra time necessary to determine what the procedures are at individual South African missions and be prepared to apply for a Port of Entry visa and possibly travel to the nearest South African mission to appear in-person. Note that foreign nationals from countries that require a visa to South Africa have always had to obtain a visa and 11(2) approval and entry visa before traveling to South Africa and that those policies have not changed at South African missions.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in South Africa. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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