What is the change? In response to the international coronavirus outbreak, the Minister of Home Affairs released a policy document Monday that provides temporary concessions for Chinese nationals in the country.

What does the change mean? Chinese nationals holding visitor’s visas, intracompany transfer work visas, or temporary residence visas that are soon to expire may be eligible to apply for a visa to remain in the country.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate and ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Visitor’s visas, intracompany transfer work visas, temporary residence visas.
  • Business impact: Chinese nationals can avoid their visas expiring if they qualify for one of the concessions.
  • Next steps: Companies should account for their Chinese national employees and assess their eligibility for the concessions.   

Background: Since the outbreak of the coronavirus in December, many countries have imposed travel restrictions on Chinese nationals and many airlines have canceled flights to China, stranding travelers worldwide. All inbound travelers from China to South Africa will be thermal screened on arrival. If the thermal screening or medical questionnaire raise any red flags, on-site medical personnel will perform a further exam. If the exam indicates the individual remains a concern, the individual is taken to the nearest hospital for further testing and treatment.

Chinese nationals already in South Africa with the following visas may apply for concessions:

  • Intracompany transfer work visas. Chinese nationals holding an intracompany transfer work visa (Section 11(2) endorsement of a visitor’s visa) that is due to expire within the next six months (by July 31, 2020) are allowed to reapply in-country for a visitor’s visa with the 11(2) work authorization for a period up to 180 days. Change of status or change in conditions will not be allowed.
  • Visitor’s visas. Chinese nationals holding a visitor’s visa that has reached the maximum validity and are normally not allowed to renew will be permitted to reapply for the same visa and same conditions for a period of up to three months. Change of status or conditions will not be allowed.
  • Temporary residence visas. Chinese nationals holding temporary residence visas with expiration dates between Dec. 1, 2019 and Feb. 29, 2020 will be allowed to apply for a renewal without the need for a FORM 20 authorization that they have first legalized their status.

Analysis & Comments: Companies with Chinese national employees who are eligible under the concessions should apply for visas or renewals as soon as possible. Employers and employees should also be aware of the procedures for all inbound travelers from China to South Africa.

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