Temporary immigration concessions and travel bans implemented amid the COVID-19 pandemic

The Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, introduced temporary measures applicable to all foreign nationals who intend entering the Republic of South Africa or who already entered the Republic.

Who is affected?

This will affect all international travellers intending to travel to South Africa or who are currently resident in South Africa.

Background

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) emerged in central China in late December 2019 and the latest figures show it has infected more than 236 000 people. The World Health Organization has now classified COVID-19 a global pandemic. South Africa recorded its first case of COVID-19 on 5 March 2020 and has since confirmed more than 150 cases of people infected with the virus.

On 15 March 2020, the President of the Republic of South Africa announced travel restrictions and other measures to manage the COVID-19 outbreak in South Africa. More information regarding this announcement is available in our South African Immigration Update published on 16 March 2020. Following this announcement, the Minister of Home Affairs, announced temporary measures applicable all foreign nationals who intend entering the Republic of South Africa or who already entered the Republic.

Impact

Foreign Nationals Travelling to South Africa

Travellers from high-risk countries, presently identified as the Italian Republic, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Republic of Korea, the Kingdom of Spain, the Federal Republic of Germany, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, the French Republic, the Swiss Confederation and the People’s Republic of China, will not be able to enter South Africa based on their visa exempt status as granted in terms of section 10A(4)(a) of the Immigration Act, (Act No 13 of 2002 as amended) (“the Act”’). The implication of this is that, any foreign national from high-risk countries will not be allowed entry in South Africa without a valid port of entry visa. It is also unlikely that an individual from a high-risk country, or who travelled to a high-risk country since 15 March 2020 will be grated a port of entry visa.

Travellers from medium-risk countries, presently identified as the Portuguese Republic, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of Singapore, will also not be able to enter South Africa based on their visa exempt status as granted in terms of section 10A(4)(a) the Act. The implication of this is that, any foreign national from medium-risk countries will not be allowed entry in South Africa without a valid port of entry visa. Any foreign national who intends to travel from a medium-risk country will be required to apply for a visa to visit South Africa at the South African Mission where they reside. They are required to submit a medical report attesting to the fact that the applicant has not tested positive for COVID-19.

Port of entry visas issued to Chinese or Iranian citizens, before or on 15 March 2020 are cancelled with immediate effect.

Embassy closures have also been reported, currently the VFS centers in the United Kingdom and the South African Missions in Germany are not open to accept any visa applications for travel to South Africa.

The above restrictions exclude holders of diplomatic passports and travel documents issued by international organisations as well as their family members accredited to the Republic of South Africa, and holders of official/ service passports. The travel restrictions will also not apply to the crew members of aircraft and cargo ships, as well as cross border rail and road transportation workers. However, such travellers will be subjected to medical screening and if required, can be isolated or quarantined for a minimum period of 14 days.

Foreign Nationals Legally Resident in South Africa

Any foreign national who is already present in the Republic and originates from a country which is affected by the COVID-19 outbreak or who, in order to reach such destination of origin needs to transit a country which is affected by COVID-19, and whose temporary residence visa is due to expire or has already expired, will be allowed to renew their visas provided they meet all the prescribed requirements. These visas will be issued with an expiry date of 31 July 2020.

How Santa Fe can assist?

Santa Fe can support your business with any immigration compliance and advisory issues concerning your expatriate population. We can review current employees’ visas and assist with necessary advice or solutions to ensure ongoing compliance with the South African Immigration Act and Regulations.

We will also keep your business updated on ongoing developments on all South African immigration matters and will advise on any changes requiring your attention.

Should you have any questions, please contact:

Terence Rover
Immigration Manager – South Africa
Santa Fe Relocation
Johannesburg, South Africa
D: +27 (0) 10 442 8933
M: +27 (0) 72 279 9606
E: Terence.Rover@santaferelo.com

Paolo Longo
Regional Immigration Director – India, Middle East & Africa
Santa Fe Relocation
Johannesburg, South Africa
D: +27 (0) 10 595 2337
M: +27 (0) 83 677 7949
E: Paolo.longo@santaferelo.com

 

To read more immigration updates, click here 

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