Home Affairs rejects new visas for South Africa

The Home Office says there is no update to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s plan for visas for digital nomads in South Africa – and that offering visas on arrival to tourists is out of the question.

In response to a parliamentary question and answer session this week, Home Secretary Aaron Motsoaledi was asked whether the country would consider issuing visas on arrival for priority tourism markets to boost tourism.

Motsoaledi said there are no provisions for visas on arrival in South Africa’s immigration laws, so his department cannot issue them.

When asked about progress in developing visas for “digital nomads” to make it easier for foreign professionals to settle and work in South Africa, the Minister was equally reluctant to reply, saying only that a report would be prepared.

“(The) President announced that he has appointed the former Director General of the Ministry of Interior, Mr. Mavuso Msimanag, to review the visa regime. I therefore urge you to await the results of the report,” he said.

Digital nomad visas are travel authorizations that legalize the status of traveling professionals. Like tourist visas, they are easy to obtain and do not require lengthy paperwork or an employment contract. However, they allow longer stays.

Currently, over 130 countries in South Africa are visa-exempt for travel and tourism purposes. However, these exceptions are for limited periods of time, ranging from 30 to 120 days depending on your passport, and do not entitle you to work in the country.

In his State of the Union address in February, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the government intends to introduce visas for “digital nomads” and start-up companies to attract more skilled workers.

He also said the country will introduce more visa reforms to make it easier for people to enter the country.

However, since the announcement, little has been done to implement those plans.

The government has released a list of critical skills – with the latest revision being released in August – that expands the jobs and skills available to foreign workers entering the country.

However, the fiddling around with domestic politics has meant that even this route has become a “nightmare” for businesses as red tape and red tape have severely hampered the approval process.

Other changes slowly coming into effect include the expansion of the eVisa program, which has been activated in 14 countries by March 2022, including China, India, Kenya and Nigeria.

The e-Visa system allows tourists and visitors to South Africa to apply for their visa online. Applications are sent to a central decision-making body for approval while applicants sit in the comfort of their own homes. This leads to the issuance of virtual visas.

The department said in April that it wanted to expand the eVisa program beyond the 14 countries already activated – but that too appears to have hit a hurdle as no more countries have been added since.

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