What is the change? The Department of Home Affairs has released temporary measures in furtherance of COVID-19 travel restrictions announced by the president Sunday.

Key measures:

  • Visa exemptions. Visa exemptions for nationals of the following high-risk countries are canceled with immediate effect: Germany, Iran, Italy, France, Switzerland, South Korea, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States.  Visa exemptions for the following medium-risk countries/territories are canceled with immediate effect: Hong Kong, Portugal, and Spain. Nationals of the medium-risk countries will be required to apply for a visa at a South African consulate and submit a medical report attesting that they have not tested positive for COVID-19. Visa waiver agreements with countries the Department of Health deems high or medium risk will be suspended through issuance of travel alerts.
  • Entry bans. In accordance with the International Relations and Cooperation Ministry as per the World Health Organization, foreign nationals, regardless of whether they hold a visa, who are traveling from or transiting through the following countries are barred from entering: China, France Germany, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, the U.K., the U.S. will be denied entry, with immediate effect.
  • Visas. Visas issued to nationals of China or Iran on or before March 15, 2020 are revoked and are now null and void. Foreign nationals whose passport indicates they have visited high-risk countries will be denied port of entry visas or temporary residence visas. Visas will be denied to any foreign national who has traveled to a high-risk country in the previous 20 days. Visas already issued to travelers from high-risk countries are revoked for those who have not yet entered South Africa.
  • Visa renewals. Foreign nationals in South Africa whose temporary residence visa is soon to expire or has already expired and who originates from or would need to transit through a country affected by COVID-19, may re-apply for a new visa with a validity date through July 31, 2020. They must meet all visa criteria and requests for changes of status or conditions will not be allowed. Those whose temporary residence visa expires between Dec. 1, 2019 and March 31, 2020 may re-apply for a visa without needing to obtain a Form 20 authorization.
  • Arrival procedures. All international travelers, including South African citizens, will be required to fill out a Health Form upon arrival and undergo a medical screening for COVID-19. If required, travelers will be isolated or quarantined for at least 14 days. Travelers from medium-risk countries must undergo high-intensity screening. South African citizens returning from high-risk countries will be subject to testing, self-isolation or quarantine upon return.
  • Screening in-country. Travelers from high-risk countries who entered South Africa since Feb. 15 are required to present themselves for testing.

Analysis & Comments: Employers should continue to identify affected employees and reschedule or cancel travel if necessary. We are closely monitoring developments, including any changes to the list of countries deemed high- and medium risk and potential cancelation of visa exemptions for additional visa waivered nationals.

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