Malusi Gigaba reveals relaxed visa rules

Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba.
Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba.
Image: Trevor Samson

The requirements for foreign minors travelling to South Africa are to be simplified‚ home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba said at a media briefing on Tuesday.

An international travel advisory to this end will be issued by the end of October after consultation with the Immigration Advisory Board.

Cumbersome visa application processes have had a negative effect on tourism and cabinet has decided that they be amended as part of the economic stimulus package announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

“The key changes will be that‚ rather than requiring all foreign national travelling minors to carry documentation proving parental consent for the travelling minor to travel‚ we will rather strongly recommend that travellers carry this documentation‚” Gigaba said.

“Our immigration officials will only insist on documentation by exception – in high-risk situations – rather than for all travellers in line with practice by several other countries. Rather than denying entry where documentation is absent‚ travellers will be given an opportunity to prove parental consent. South African minors will still be required to prove parental consent when leaving our borders.”

Gigaba said these changes would be implemented in time for the festive season‚ when many people would be travelling with children.

The minister said his department was reviewing the visa regime for African countries outside the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Currently 15 of the 16 SADC countries do not require visas to visit SA‚ with the exception of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Of SA’s top 10 African tourist markets‚ only Nigeria has a visa requirement for ordinary passport holders.

Gigaba said negotiations were being finalised to conclude visa waiver agreements for ordinary passport holders from Algeria‚ Egypt‚ Morocco‚ Sao Tome & Principe‚ Tunisia‚ the Sahrawi-Arab Democratic Republic and Ghana in Africa; from Saudi Arabia‚ United Arab Emirates‚ Qatar‚ State of Palestine‚ Iran‚ Lebanon‚ Bahrain‚ Oman and Kuwait in the Middle East; Belarus and Georgia in Eastern Europe; and Cuba in the Caribbean.

Visa requirements for India and China – both in the top 10 tourism markets – will be simplified as from next month by making provision for taking biometrics on arrival in SA; allowing visa applications via courier; and issuing five-year‚ multiple-entry visas.

“We will consider easing similarly travel restrictions for certain categories of visitors for other countries‚ including Nigeria‚ Kenya and Uganda‚” Gigaba said.

Another measure to ease the movement of travellers has been the implementation of a three-year‚ multiple-entry visa for frequent trusted travellers to SA and a 10-year‚ multiple-entry visa for business people and academics from Africa.

Business people from China and India will be issued a 10-year‚ multiple-entry visa within five days of application. The critical skills list will be reviewed by April 2019.

Gigaba said SA was currently finalising the development of a new biometric movement control system‚ which will be piloted at Cape Town and Lanseria international airports.

The development of an e-visa was at an advanced stage and would be piloted in New Zealand by April next year‚ Gigaba said. E-gates will be piloted at OR Tambo‚ Cape Town and King Shaka international airports by 2019. This would allow returning South Africans as well as certain categories of trusted travellers to be processed electronically rather than having to interact with an immigration officer.

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