What is the change? South Africa has begun issuing multiple-entry visitor visas that are valid for up to three years to business travelers, tourists and academics.

What does the change mean? The new visas are not available to first-time applicants or nationals of visa exempt countries. However, the change will greatly benefit frequent travelers who require visitor visas to enter South Africa because the allowable extended validity period should significantly reduce the need for repeat visa applications.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate and ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Visitor visas.
  • Who is affected: Non-visa exempt nationalities who travel to South Africa.
  • Impact on processing times: The longer validity will significantly reduce the need for repeat visa applications for qualifying travelers.
  • Business impact: The issuance of visas with longer validity is intended, in part, to boost the attractiveness of South Africa as a destination for foreign direct investment.

Background: The change is part of South Africa’s continuing efforts to address criticism that strict visa rules have caused a decline in travel to the country.

The new visit visas will be valid for up to three years, but may be issued with shorter validity periods at the discretion of the South African mission issuing the visa. Visa holders will be permitted to stay in South Africa for up to 90 days on each visit for business, tourism or academic purposes. Work activities are not permitted on visitor visas, and work authorization is still required in this regard.

BAL Analysis: The change does not affect nationals of visa exempt countries. The longer-validity visas will make travel more convenient for foreign nationals who require a visa and who travel frequently to South Africa.

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

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