South Africa: South Africa changes visa validity start date

South Africa has changed the way it calculates visa validity such that the validity period will begin on a date specified in the visa application rather than the date a visa is issued.

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What does the change mean? The change will have the effect of prolonging the validity period for a number of visa holders because visas were previously valid from the date they were issued, which in many cases was days or even weeks before a visa holder’s arrival in South Africa.

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing. The change took effect Aug. 1.
  • Visas/permits affected: Temporary resident visas.
  • Who is affected: Foreign nationals in South Africa on a temporary resident visa.
  • Impact on processing times: In some cases the prolonged validity will save visa holders the need to apply for a new visa.

Background: Before the change, applicants who applied ahead of time for a visa to South Africa would sometimes have their validity period effectively cut short because their visas would be issued before their travel to South Africa. Visas will now be valid from a date specified in the visa application to avoid this problem. The change will also make the visa renewal process smoother because new visas will be valid from the point that an old visa expires rather than the date a new visa is issued.

BAL Analysis: Nothing about the visa application process has changed, but visas are now being issued with a “valid from” date rather than an “issue date.” This will provide for longer stays in South Africa before visa holders have to leave the country or renew their visa.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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