What to do if you have overstayed your tourist visa

With the global impact of Covid-19, worldwide lockdowns became a crucial step in reducing the spread of infection, and since the initial lockdown in March 2020, they have continued to be implemented when necessary. As a result, many travelers visiting South Africa on tourist visas were stuck, unable to leave the country while their visa expired. However, given the governmentally imposed restrictions, the Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, has extended the validity period of legally issued visas or asylum permits which expired during the lockdown period until 31 December 2021.

Please note that this announcement does not mean that every visa holder was granted an automatic extension until 31 December 2021. This extension is only for people with certain category visas. It applies to people who applied for waivers and holders of asylum seeker visas/permits or have refugee status. Holders of these specific visas have been allowed to remain in South Africa while those interested in being repatriated to their home country can still do so without being declared an undesirable person.

The extension does not apply to any person(s) who entered South Africa from 15 March 2021 onwards, and the original validity period of their granted visa still applies. Individuals who have overstayed their visa without being granted an extension will be declared undesirable and banned from re-entering the country as per South Africa’s standard visa regulations. Individuals with a standard visitor’s visa that entered the country between December 2019 and 14 March 2021 were only granted an extension until the end of September 2021. This is because they had opportunities to either extend their visa or leave South Africa before the end of September 2021. These specific travelers will now face legal repercussions, such as being declared undesirable and being banned from re-entering South Africa in the future.

If you were under the impression that you fell under the December 2021 extension period with a standard visitor’s visa – and have now overstayed your visa – June Luna Immigration Attorneys can help. Our expert team has years of experience successfully assisting clients with appeals, visa extensions and challenging the label of undesirable through litigation as needed.

If you would like more information on visa renewals or require assistance with handling the fallout of overstaying your visa, please contact us.