Expired passports will automatically cause visas to expire
UPDATE [3 March 2017] – The Department of Home Affairs has done an about-turn and confirmed that it will still allow visa transfers for the time being. Unexpired visas in passports which have already expired will be recognised as valid for now. However, the circular which is discussed below has not been withdrawn, meaning that the rules set out therein could be enforced at any time in future.
VFS centres across South Africa have been instructed to accept all visa transfer applications for the time being.
Foreign nationals with unexpired visas in passports which have already expired are advised to apply for a visa transfer immediately.
The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has announced that it will scrap visa transfers and no longer allow the transfer of visas from expiring and expired passports to newly-issued passports. The expiry of a passport will in future automatically cause the South African visas which it contains to also expire.
The decision was communicated in a DHA circular dated January 2017. The new policy is effective immediately.
In the past, visas expired according to the expiry date stated on the face of the visa. If this date was after the expiry date of the passport which contains the visa, the holder could apply to have the visa transferred to a new passport, once the new passport is obtained. This process is called a “visa transfer”.
Visa transfers will in future be allowed only if a passport containing a valid visa is:
- damaged; or
- full (passports must at least two open pages at the time of travel).
If a visa is transferred for one of the above reasons, then it will be re-issued subject to the same expiry date as that of the original visa. However, visas valid for fewer than 60 days before expiry will not be re-issued.
DHA charges will not apply to visa transfers, but VFS fees (currently R1 350.00) will apply.
Rectifications not affected
The new policy will not affect visa rectifications. Rectification of errors on visas will still be allowed if the:
- applicant’s names are spelled incorrectly on the visa;
- visa category is wrong or does not reflect what the applicant applied for;
- visa or application reference number is wrong;
- issue date or expiry date is wrong. For example, if a visitor’s visa is issued for 4 years; or
- visa was issued subject to the wrong conditions. For example, if the name of the employer is incorrect.
Policy in line with law; implementation criticised
South Africa’s immigration laws require foreign nationals to travel with passports valid for at least 30 days after the intended date of departure from the Republic. The issuance of visas which extend past the expiry date of the passport concerned was therefore never intended to be allowed. The change in immigration policy is regarded to be an effort to reconcile immigration practice with the country’s immigration laws.
However, it is expected that there will be sharp criticism of the new policy due to how it was implemented. There was no advance notice and the rights of visa holders and their families will be affected without any process of consultation or forewarning.
A copy of the circular is available here.
Speak to a professional now
Contact Le Roux Attorneys, South African Visa specialists about your visa application. Start by selecting one of the enquiry options below