PRETORIA – Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has issued directives extending the validity of foreigners’ visas which expired during South Africa’s lockdown imposed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The home affairs department has extended to June 30 the validity of legally issued short-term permits which were originally valid for not longer than 90 days, such as tourist visas, and expired during the lockdown, the department’s spokesman Siya Qoza said.
“The validity of longer-term temporary visas (issued for three months to three years) is until July 31, 2021.The directions extend the initial validity period extension of March 31, 2021. This means that visas that were lawfully issued and expired during the period of the lockdown are deemed to be valid until the end of June 2021 and 31 July 2021,” said Qoza.
“Holders of such visas are permitted to remain in the country under the conditions of their visas until the expiry of their applicable extension. Those wishing to be repatriated to their countries within this period can depart without being declared undesirable persons.”
The extension does not apply to people who entered South Africa from March 15.
“The normal validity period of visas of people admitted into the country from March 15, 2021 applies,” said Qoza.
He said holders of longer-term temporary permits such as study visas, treaty visas, business visas, medical treatment visas, relatives’ visas, general work visas, critical skills work visas, retired persons’ visas and exchange visas which expired during the lockdown should apply for renewals before July 31.
The department of home affairs said refugee reception centres remained closed and the validity of asylum and refugee permits had been extended to June 30.
“In due course, the department will communicate details of an online service to renew these permits,” said Qoza.
In February, Cabinet resolved to reopen South Africa’s 20 land borders with Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Namibia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe which had been temporarily shut once again in January – following extended closures last year – as Covid-19 cases surged in the country.
– African News Agency (ANA), Editing by Stella Mapenzauswa