In terms of South African immigration law, there are various categories of visitor visas extending from one month to three years, such as: short term work visas, volunteer visas and research visas. The purpose of this blog, however, is to discuss a visitors visa in the truest sense of the word – coming to South Africa as a tourist on holiday.
As of 30 October 2019, the list of visa exempt countries has been updated by the Department of Home Affairs. If your country of citizenship is not on that list, you must apply for a visitor visa from your local South African embassy or submission center. Without it, you will not be able the country and it is highly likely the airline will refuse you boarding.
Once you are in South Africa, your period of stay can be extended. It is advisable to do this as soon as possible - as a visitor visa extension can take up to eight weeks to come back. If you leave before the extension is granted, you will be declared undesirable and will not be able to return to South Africa for a period of one to five years.
In order to receive a new visitor visa, you must return to your country of citizenship. You cannot border-hop to extend a visa. For example, as a British citizen, you cannot go to Namibia and re-enter to get a fresh 90 day tourist stamp. You must return to the United Kingdom.
If you are in South Africa as a tourist, you cannot change to another long term visa whilst in South Africa, unless you fall within a limited category of exceptions. Any long term visa will need to be applied for from your country of origin.
If you have a question about extending your visa while you are in South Africa or are from a country that needs to apply for a tourist visa before entering South Africa, contact us for an initial assessment.