I’ve overstayed my visa – what now?

Travelling to a foreign country always brings excitement at the prospect of experiencing something new, however, overstaying one’s visa can quickly turn a happy trip into a legal nightmare. Below, we explain the consequences of overstaying your visa and the best actions to take going forward.

Before the travel regulation changes in 2014, visitors who overstayed their visa would only have to pay a fine upon departure, but this is no longer the case. Upon departure, any visitor who has overstayed their visa will become an undesirable person and be banned from re-entering the country. Travellers who have overstayed their visa for 30 days or less will be banned from South Africa for a period of 12 months. Those who have overstayed their visa by more than 30 days will be banned from the country for a period of 5 years.

While it may sound terrifying, being declared an undesirable person can be remedied. If you have overstayed your visa for a genuine or unforeseen issue (e.g. medical reasons, a family emergency, etc.), you may qualify for an upliftment of the undesirable status.

Visitors who have overstayed and labelled as undesirable upon departure will have the chance to appeal via email to the Department of Home Affairs within 10 working days of being labelled and receiving the ban. Home Affairs states that they will review the appeal within 48 hours, however, we have found that the review of an appeal takes on average 3-6 months.

While travellers have the right to appeal themselves, this is not the best course of action as they will likely lack the knowledge and skills to present a strong case. At June Luna Immigration Attorneys, we have years of experience assisting clients with appeals, visa extensions and – when needed – challenging the label of undesirable through litigation. Using the best resources is imperative, considering that applicants only have one chance to file an application to uplift a declaration of undesirability.

If you would like more information on how we can assist you with issues relating to overstaying a visa, applying for visa extensions or appealing a rejection, please contact us.