What is the change? The Department of Home Affairs has announced that it intends to introduce an e-visa pilot program by March 2019.

What does the change mean? The e-visa system will be piloted in-country or at one of South Africa’s embassies or consulates and will cover temporary residence visa applications and processing, capture and uploading of biometrics, applications for waivers, and email notification to applicants.

  • Implementation time frame: The pilot phase is to be tested by March 31, 2019.
  • Visas/permits affected: Temporary residence visas, which include business, tourist, study, medical, work and family-based visas.
  • Impact on processing times: E-visas will streamline the application process and shorten processing times.  
  • Business impact: The e-visas are intended to boost South Africa’s tourist industry by making it easier to apply for visas online. The inclusion of business and work visas in the pilot, however, should also benefit South Africa businesses.
  • Next steps: If the pilot is successful, e-visas will be expanded to DHA offices in-country and all overseas missions.

Background: The DHA revealed its plans to launch an e-visa pilot program in response to a question from Parliament. Currently, all foreign nationals must appear in person at a South African mission or Visa Facilitation Services office to apply for a visa and give biometrics.

BAL Analysis: South Africa’s plan to introduce an e-visa is a welcome development and is in line with the global trend of moving visa processing online.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group. For additional information, please contact

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