South Africa: Changes Made to ‘on Arrival’ Business Traveller Visas
There have been recent changes in immigration admission procedures that may impact international executives who travel on business to South Africa.
Section 11(2) of the Immigration Act (No 13 of 2002) contains a provision for business travellers from visa-exempt countries to be able to obtain a visitor visa with authorization to conduct business, work, training, and other related activities. This visa could be granted for up to three months with the ability to obtain an extension to the visa upon application for a further maximum three-month period. In terms of the granting of the three-month visa, there was no specific requirement to notify the authorities in advance of travel; the individual would simply have an invitation letter prepared by the employer or client, whichever applicable, and this would enable the authority at the point of entry to endorse the applicant’s passport with the section 11(2) visa – in effect, a business visitor visa on arrival.
However, with effect from 12 March 20121, visa-exempt travellers (including Australian, Canadian, European Economic Area (EEA), Swiss, U.K., and U.S. nationals)2 are now required to request approval for the section 11(2) visa at least seven (7) days prior to arrival in South Africa. According to the South African Department of Home Affairs, requests for such authorizations must be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org . However, family members accompanying the international executive to South Africa who enter the country on a holiday/tourism visa (section 11(1)) visa, may continue to apply for visitor visas upon arrival.
Immigration services providers and employers are no longer permitted to send requests directly to South African ports of entry.
A further important amendment from 12 March 2012, is that the ability to obtain a three-month extension to the initial section 11(2) visa no longer applies.
Please note, travellers from non-visa exempt countries must still apply for visas at the South African missions abroad.