SOUTH AFRICA: Travel Restrictions for Temporary Residence Permit holders

Immigration Directive 43 of 2010 was withdrawn by the South African Department of Home Affairs (DHA) on 24 February 2014. The withdrawal of this directive means that a foreign national whose Temporary Residence Permit expires while their renewal application is still in process must remain in South Africa until the application is decided. Where a foreign national has an application for residence pending in South Africa, such a foreigner would be fined for overstaying if he attempts to depart from South Africa in the absence of a valid visa, even where the foreign national”s application for status was submitted well before the expiry of the existing permit.

For some years now, Immigration Directive 43 of 2010 allowed foreign nationals awaiting the outcome of applications for temporary residence permits to freely depart and re-enter South Africa, even if their permit had expired, by presenting their acknowledgement of receipt from the Department of Home Affairs as proof of the pending application within the country. These individuals were granted a 30 day visitor”s visa on re-entry.  However, with the withdrawal of Immigration Directive No. 43 of 2010, this is no longer possible.

The directive was partially reinstated on 28th February 2014 for a grace period, however this only benefitted foreign nationals who who departed South Africa before 24th February 2014 and were out of the country at the date of its withdrawal. The grace period allowed foreign nationals, with a visa application pending, to re-enter the country before 30th April 2014 with their passport, expired permit and official filing receipt.

From 1st May 2014 however, non-visa exempt foreign nationals who depart from South Africa without a valid Residence Permit and while their renewal applications remain in process will be required to obtain Visitors Permits at a South African Consulate General abroad and pay administrative fines of up to ZAR 3,000 in order to re-enter the country. Upon re-entry on a Visitors Permit an individual is not permitted to work in South Africa and the employee must wait for their work authorisation to be renewed before continuing work activities. Otherwise, a non-visa exempt national will now be denied re-entry into South Africa in the absence of a visa.

Visa exempt nationals are authorised to re-enter the country provided they hold a return ticket and are entering for the purpose of visiting, or to await the outcome of the application. However, such an individual is still precluded from working until their work authorisation is renewed.

Please note that the fine of ZAR 3,000 also applies to non-visa exempt nationals exiting South Africa with an expired visa. The new Immigration Regulations in South Africa also propose that any foreigner who overstays their visa for even one day will automatically be declared an undesirable person and can be prohibited re-entry into South Africa for a time frame of between 2 – 10 years, depending on the length of the overstay. 

If you have any queries about South African immigration, please feel free to contact us on 0207 0012121.

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