South Africa visa extension 2021
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  • The latest visa extension brings the total amount of leeway afforded to foreigners since the beginning of the outbreak to more than 12 months.
  • Foreigners who have been unable to leave South Africa due to lockdown measures will now have their visas automatically extended to 31 March 2021.
  • This sets aside government’s “declaration of undesirability” clause which, under normal circumstances, would punish foreigners who have overstayed with expired visas.
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Foreigners who have been stuck in South Africa due to the lockdown restrictions first implemented in March 2020 will benefit from yet another visa extension. Adjustments to Alert Level 3 regulations, gazetted on Monday 11 January 2021, have granted a further two-month grace period to foreigner’s holding expired visas.

This extension, the third of its kind granted since international travel restrictions were initially introduced to limit imported Covid-19 infections, will keep expired visas valid until 31 March 2021. The previous extension was due to lapse at the end of January.

In addition to including visas which expired since March 2020, the extension also applies to any foreigner who has travelled to South Africa in the last ten months and is still unable to return to their country of origin before April.

This waives government’s “declaration of undesirability” clause, which would usually ban foreigners, who have overstayed in South Africa with an expired visa, from re-entering the country for up to five years.

“A foreign tourist who arrived in the Republic prior to the commencement of this regulation. will have his or her visa automatically extended to 31 March 2021,” states the latest government gazette.

The latest extension takes the total amount of leeway afforded to stranded foreigners to just over a year.

The reprieve does not, however, permit foreigners to deviate from their visa’s terms and conditions. For example, those without a general work visa are still forbidden from entering into any employment agreement on South African soil. Contravening the visa’s terms and conditions, except for the period of validity which has been consistently extended, may still result in foreigners being deemed “undesirable”.

In the example of a foreigner being employed without a valid work visa, it’s the employer who will face a fine or imprisonment.

Amendments to the visa regulations coincide with the closure of South Africa’s land borders, following crippling congestion and fears of backlogged posts serving as the backdrop to “super spreader” events. Persons allowed to use the border for re-entry into South Africa include holders of long-term residence visas, work visas or business visas.

Further exceptions have been extended to the deportation of willing departure of foreign nationals returning to their countries of origin.

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