Visa Relief: Home Affairs moves quickly to protect SA business interests with China amidst Coronavirus

The Coronavirus outbreak has impacted many foreign nationals finding themselves at the end of the validity of their Intra Company Transfer Work Visas or Short-Term Visas and in need to travel back to their home country to apply for new visas to extend their stay.

In response to growing reports about the severity of the virus, The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) in February issued a Directive for Chinese Nationals allowing them to renew their visas in SA in the short term.

Since the issuance of the directive, more countries have become affected and which has consequently resulted in increasing travel restrictions; as we are now at ‘Global Pandemic’ level.

Consistent with this Directive, we would not be surprised if the DHA extends this temporary concession to cover all Eastern countries in line with the Directive issued for Chinese nationals.

The current Directive accordingly permits Chinese nationals who are still within South Africa, to extend their stay on a short-term temporary basis until 31 July 2020.

This Directive further includes the following qualifying criteria

  1. Those on long term work visas, such as Intra Company Transfer Work Visas, and that are due to expire within on or before 31 July 2020, will be allowed to apply for a short term work visa, also known as a Visitor Visa under Section 11(2) for a period not exceeding 180 days.
  2. Chinese Nationals who are currently on a Visitor Visa and have reached the maximum period and technically not allowed to renew, may apply for a new Visitor Visa stipulating the same conditions, for a period not exceeding 90 days.
  3. Chinese Nationals’ whose visas that have expired since 01 December 2019 and that have expired on 29 February 2020, may (have) apply(ied) for the renewal of their current visas, where applicable, without having to obtain a form 20 should the visa have expired by the time of submission.

The DHA should be applauded for a quick and decisive interaction and response to this global pandemic.

Whilst there are many foreign nationals and employers who hold the view that a work visa process is a daunting process, this is simply not true.

The problem cases are mostly attributable to the incorrect process being followed, protocols not observed and in isolated cases certain Department of International Relations staff, who are not correctly following the process.

These perceived obstacles are easily overcome with a properly motivated business case and following the correct channels.

The DHA holds wide discretionary powers to serve the interests of all South Africans, and with the imperative of keeping South Africa safe and protecting foreign investments; this quick ‘thinking on their feet’ shows that South Africa becoming more investor friendly, a move we applaud.

Click here to view the current Directive applicable to Chinese nationals.

Marisa Jacobs is the Managing Director at Xpatweb.

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