South Africa – Department of Home Affairs Cracks Down on Temporary Residence Visa Validity

What has changed

The Department of Home Affairs in South Africa has announced that effective January 2017, it will no longer allow a Transfer of Temporary Residence Visas where the visa’s validity extends past the validity of the passport in which it was endorsed. Moving forward, Temporary Residence Visas will expire with the passport in which they were endorsed, if the passport expires before the expiry date of the visa, and new Temporary Residence Visas will not be issued with a validity that exceeds that of the passport in which they are endorsed.

Who is affected?

  • Persons in South Africa on a Temporary Residence Visa whose passports expire before the expiry date written on their visas
  • Applicants for Temporary Residence Visas whose passports’ validity are less than their intended stay in South Africa plus thirty (30) days

What to expect

The Department of Home Affairs has always advised that applicants for a Temporary Residence Visa should have a passport which is valid for no less than the intended duration of stay in South Africa plus thirty (30) days. However, prior to January’s announcement, the Department had been issuing visas for the full available validity regardless of passport expiry, and allowing Transfer of Visa applications should the applicant’s passport expire before their visa.

Whilst Immigration law has not been amended in anyway, this is a clamp-down on this particular requirement which removes any leniency from the situation. The clamp-down began in South Africa in 2016 as fewer visas were issued past the expiry of the applicant’s passport. However, South African Missions abroad had not been following this practice in the same way.

Although we have sought more information from the Department in this regard, we are currently advised that where any DHA or South African Mission has issued a Temporary Residence Visa with a validity date that exceeds the passport expiry, the visa will be deemed expired upon the expiry of the passport. We are informed that when the Department discovers visas that have been issued with expiry date exceeding the expiry of the holders’ passports, they will withdraw/cancel it immediately (we have yet to see this happen in practice). This is considered to be unreasonable by many, as it was the Department and its foreign missions who issued the visas in the first instance.

Furthermore, exceptions had been previously made for those who held Temporary Residence Visas in an expired passport, which meant that border officials would allow the holder of such visas to enter and depart from South Africa when presenting their old (visa endorsed passport) and their renewed passport. With immediate effect, this will likely not be possible, as the visa in their old passport may well now be deemed to be expired.

What you need to do
Planning ahead

  • First-time applicants for a Temporary Residence Visa should ensure that their current passport is valid for at least thirty (30) days beyond their intended duration of stay.
  • Current Temporary Residence Visa holders whose passports are due to expire before their visas should assume that their visas will expire with their passports.
  • Current Temporary Residence Visa holders whose visas were endorsed into an expired passport and who have not applied for the transfer of their visa into their new passport should be cautious of travelling with their old and new passports as their visa (in their expired passports) may be deemed to have expired. There is a risk in this instance, that when the individual departs from South Africa their visa will be cancelled/withdrawn, and they may have to apply for a new visa abroad to re-enter. Likewise, the individual may have their visa cancelled upon arrival in ┬áSouth Africa, which means that some nationalities may be refused entry. However, it is unclear whether the Immigration Officials at the Ports of Entry into South Africa have received instructions to enforce the provisions of the notice.
  • Contact your Emigra Worldwide representative for further details on how these updates may impact you or your client.