The extended grace period also allows foreign nationals two months in which to apply for an extension of or to renew their temporary residence. This applies, irrespective of their current (expired) visa status and,in particular, if they intend to continue to reside in South Africa beyond 31 March 2021.
The latest visa extension, announced on 11 January 2021, means foreigners have had more than 12 months of grace to stay in the country since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak. This is the third such extension granted since international travel restrictions were first introduced in 2020. The previous extension was due to lapse on 31 January 2021.
The extension also applies to foreigners who have travelled to South Africa in the last ten months and are still unable to return to their country of origin before April 2021.
The announcement waives government’s ‘declaration of undesirability’ clause. This would usually ban foreigners who stay on in South Africa with an expired visa from returning to the country for up to five years.
Although their visas have been extended, international visitors are required to adhere to their visa’s terms and conditions. Those who do not have a work visa may therefore not enter into an employment agreement in South Africa. Foreigners who contravene their visa’s terms and conditions are deemed to have contravened the Immigration Act and Regulations. Employers who employ a foreigner without a valid work visa can be penalised with a fine or imprisonment.
Amendments to the visa regulations coincide with the closure of South Africa’s land borders. However,certain categories of local and foreign travellers have been exempted and their travels are allowed. For example, foreigners permitted to re-enter into South Africa include holders of long-term residence visas, work visas or business visas.
If you are a foreign visitor or passport holder here in South Africa who has questions about your visa status, please contact us.