An expired study visa

DHA Scraps Visa Transfers

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  However, the circular which is discussed below has not been withdrawn, meaning that the rules set out therein could be enforced at any time in future.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:

  • lost;
  • stolen;
  • 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

Posted in blog, Immigration Policy, Legal Advice, News and tagged .


  1. I have a permanet resudence attained under a currently expired passport… how do l get the new passport to match or correspond with the permanent residence permit?Thank you.

  2. Good day sir/ma

    I’m leaving in cape town and they broke my car and stolen my bag which my passport with permit is inside and I manage to get another new passport and I now reply for transfer since 28 0f May 2018 up tiĺl now still pending. Please I’m the head of my family aĺl my family depend on my . My life has been stop since then nothing can be done . We be grateful if my application can be considerer. Thanks Regards Busari.

  3. My passport with my zep permit was stolen…i asked for permit transfer from vfs zep but i was told to wait for transfers. When will it start?

  4. i applied for a ZEP and my passport was stollen before collection and i was told to wait for transfare when i went to collect my permit with a new passport so when is the transfare going to be opened plsease help

  5. Is this still in place?. Can I still travel in and out of South Africa with a valid visa in an expired passport together with a renewed passport.

  6. I have a new zep permit that applied for whilst
    waiting for a new passport.The issued permit is stuck in the old expired passport.I am told told there is a transfer period that will be announced so I can transfer it to the new passport.
    Is there another way I can apply for a transfer without waiting?

  7. If the temperory resident visa is expired and in process of renewal. The applicant can travel to Mozambique for couple of days and come back?

  8. I lost my passport with a working permit l have all the copies for each with a police avidevit. how can I got about transferring my permit into the new passport?

  9. Good day!

    Got my renewed spousal visa last Aug 2017 and my passport willl expire on April 2018. I renewed my passport this month bec I travel with my husband in other country and they need a 6 months validity of passport . Can I travel with my old and new passport ?My spousal visa is in my old passort.

    Thank you!

  10. Hi. What if a visa has expired for a while and I can’t seem to Fix it. What rules apply there? Thanks

  11. I lost my passport with a working permit issued before vfs and l have all the copies for each with a police avidevit. I applied to vfs for a replacement but they said can’t help me l have to reapply for a new work permit yet the lost permit had moved 2 yrs out of 5yrs please assist

  12. I have renewed my passport in South Africa, so will the visa(Not yet expired) printed on my old passport is still valid? Or I need to apply for transfer or new VISA.

    Visa expiring date on old passport was before the passport expiring date.

  13. Immigration Act, 2002 (Act No. 13 of 2002)
    48. Foreigners erroneously allowed to enter Republic

    No illegal foreigner shall be exempt from a provision of this Act or be allowed to sojourn in the Republic on the grounds that he or she was not informed that he or she could not enter or sojourn in the Republic or that he or she was admitted or allowed to remain in the Republic through error or misrepresentation, or because his or her being an illegal foreigner was undiscovered.

  14. Hi I am khabir Mir I am a Bangladeshi I came from Cape Town to Bangladesh 4of augast 2016 I have a South African general work permit i am a Bangladesh now my passport is expired now I have a new renown passport old passport and new passport to gather at tech but I can’t get Emirates eirline boding card they say I need enter my new passport detailed at sa home office system need ok to I don’t have South African embassy Bangladesh please healp

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