South Africa: Visa rules to be liberalized for Kenyan nationals

South Africa has agreed to several visa-liberalization measures for Kenyan nationals, including 10-year multiple-entry visas for frequent business travelers and relaxed rules for Kenyan students in South Africa.

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What does the change mean? The changes aim to attract Kenyan business and tourist visitors to South Africa and to encourage Kenyan students to pursue South African graduate and post-graduate qualifications.

  • Implementation time frame: To be determined.
  • Visas/permits affected: Business visas, student visas, transit visas.
  • Who is affected: Kenyan nationals making frequent trips to South Africa, and Kenyans studying or transiting through South Africa.
  • Business impact: The measures will facilitate business travel and reduce the administrative burden on frequent travelers.

Background: South Africa’s Minister of Home Affairs agreed to the package of changes on a visit to Kenya May 2-4. The list of changes for Kenyan nationals includes:

  • Issuing three-year multiple-entry visas for frequent travelers.
  • Issuing 10-year multiple-entry visas for frequent business travelers and academics.
  • Issuing student visas for the entire duration of study.
  • Eliminating transit visas for those transiting through South African airports.
  • Reducing the South African government visa fees from US$71 to US$49.
  • Exempting diplomatic and official passport holders from visa requirements.

BAL Analysis: The concessions are part of a bilateral agreement between Kenya and South Africa. After implementing stricter visa rules and procedures in 2014 that negatively impacted business travel and tourism, the Department of Home Affairs agreed to roll out several concessions that cover other foreign nationals. Some measures, such as multiple-entry visas and biometrics on arrival, have been implemented or piloted and more concessions are expected in the coming year.

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

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