South African undesirable person

The ‘Undesirable Person’ in South Africa

The implementation of the amended Immigration Act 13 of 2002 (“the Act”) has seen sweeping changes across the field of immigration law in South Africa. This article will look to provide clarity around the issue of foreigners being declared an “Undesirable Person” in South Africa.

What is an “Undesirable Person” in South Africa?

According to South African Immigration law, a foreigner may be declared undesirable by the Director-General of Home Affairs if he or she has overstayed his or her South African visa.

What does declaration of undesirability mean?

A declaration of undesirability effectively prevents you from applying for a visa and re-entering South Africa for the prescribed periods of time, as set out below:

  • If you have overstayed by less than 30 days, you will be declared an undesirable person for a period of 12 months;
  • If you have overstayed for a second time within a 24 month period, you will be declared undesirable for a period of 2 years and
  • If you have overstayed by more than 30 days, you will be declared undesirable for a period of 5 years.

Current policy on undesirability in South Africa

Confusion often arises when foreigners who have already submitted their visa/permit applications have attempted to return to their home nations prior to the finalisation of their application and have been declared undesirable upon departure. In the past, a foreigner who had submitted an application for the extension of his or her temporary residence Permit was not to be penalised when entering or leaving South Africa – provided that he or she held the original acknowledgement of receipt and proof of payment. However this is no longer the case.

The change in policy has effectively stripped foreigners of both their right to remain in South Africa pending an outcome in their application, and their ability to depart South Africa during this period without being penalised. This change has been poorly publicised and consequently, many foreigners have attempted to depart the country only to be declared an undesirable person upon doing so.

The current issue with foreigners labelled “Undesirable Person”

The issue is only compounded by the delays and backlogs encountered through the Department of Home Affairs, essentially stranding foreigners in the country until they have received an outcome on their applications. In the event that you are required to travel out of South Africa and you are declared undesirable, you have 10 working days within which to submit written representations appealing the decision. These representations are to be submitted to and it is advisable to enlist the services of an immigration attorney to assist in this regard.

Speak to a professional

Contact Le Roux Attorneys, South African Visa specialists about your visa application. Start by selecting one of the enquiry options below

Posted in Appeals, blog, Live In SA, News, Visit SA, Work in SA and tagged , , , , .


  1. I would like to make an appeal to have my ban waived. How do I go about it please assist. I’m in zim.

  2. Good day please advise me if you can assist me.I was on my way from springbok in South Africa while we have a brakedown between stuynkopf and Vioolsdrift South African border. We struggle to take the car to a machanic to fix it and i decide to hike to the border and was 8 hours late . That is why thy ban me
    kind regards

  3. Myself and my partner overstayed by 9days in South Africa we are planning to buy a property & need to be back over there asap to sort things out. I’ve emailed several times and had no reply so I was wondering on what to do next. Thankyou.

  4. I was declared undesirable for overstaying, does it mean i can not transit South Africa if when i am traveling abroad?

  5. Last year I had emergency my mother in low passed away so I send my wife India emergency I send her on vfs apply sleep but still at airport they put her 242 day’s overstay stop entry pls advice me how I can short out this problem

  6. Hi i was declared undesirable person in 2017 and i misplaced my declaration for undesirable persons form,how do i get a copy so that i can do my appeal

  7. Hi I was declared an undesirable person on 5th August 2015.I overstayed for a day and according to the guidelines here ,less than 30 day overstay attracts 12 months ban.Does it mean I can travel to South Africa without being sent back since its now two years plus months from the time the declaration was made?

    Your response will be highly appreciated.

    Kind regards,

  8. Good day,

    Please advise.

    Yesterday, I attempted to collect my permit and received an application rejected notice for the following comment:

    According to movement control system records applicant has a v-list case with a v-list number as the applicant previously submitted fraudulent documents and did not appeal the decision taken against him to prove that the documents were authentic therefore visa cannot be issued under these circumstances.
    Applicant is advised to visit the nearest immigration inspectorate.

    I do not want to go to visit an immigration inspectorate without legal representation and furthermore do not know how to proceed.

    Does this v-list number state that I cannot reenter the country and are undesirable?

    How can this be rectified?

    Please let me know

  9. Hi Melony

    Thank you for contacting us. When he was deported, he would have been given a notice that would determine his status. He will most likely not be allowed entrance into the country on his Indian permit and won’t be allowed to apply again unless he gets his negative status overturned or waivered. For assistance please email with this overview and your contact details and our specialist will get back to you.

    Kind regards,
    The SAVisas Team

  10. Good day,
    Please advise if you could assist my life partner.
    He was deported on the 29/12/2016 due to fraudulent permit.
    An attorney did his work permit here in South Africa.
    He traveled to India last year with the work permit and came back and did the same this year but was deported back. We would like to know what to do in a case like this because we thought it was legit because an attorney did the application for him. Does this mean he is banned, can he enter the country again with his Indian permit or can he apply again.

    Kind regards

  11. I have a drunken offense and did probation how does this affect if I want to apply for a student visa permit???

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