Thulani Mavuso, director-general of Home Affairs of South Africa, has announced great preogress regarding the online visa for South Africa in recent years. Mavuso stated that the new online system had reached the end of its funcional testing period in July 2019. In November 2019, the pilot eVisa program was launched for Kenyan citizens and was then expected to be extended to other nationalities.
Mavuso explained that the government is introducing the new online system to increase tourism by making it easier for foreign visitors to obtain a visa to travel to South Africa. The eVisa is also intended to boost the South African economy by allowing foreign investors to visit the country, and is also expected to allow South African companies to more easily acquire foreign employees with specialized skills.
Echoing Mavuso’s comments, South African president Cyril Ramaphosa praised the implementation of the new system in his latest State of the Nation Address, stating his belief it would lead to a ‘renewal of the country’s brand’ and double tourist arrivals to the goal of 21 million by 2030.
However, the coronavirus pandemic may cause slight delays. The South African authorities announced that the country will remain closed to international tourism until February 2021 and this may have repercussions on the eVisa program. The government still believes that the 21 million jobs target can be reached by 2030.
Applying for a South Africa Online Visa
In his address, president Ramaphosa described the new eVisa system as a ‘world-class visa regime’ which would place a significant focus on key markets. The eVisa is expected to increase the efficiency and convenience of the visa application process, and facilitate the movement of visitors through South Africa’s international airports.
The Department of Home Affairs previously announced that the eVisa system will allow frequent foreign visitors to obtain 10-year South African visas within five days of submitting their application, replacing the previous visa processes which are considered inefficient by many business insiders in the country.
South Africa Department of Tourism spokesperson Blessing Manale had previously stated his belief that the country’s visa regime had been one of the main constraints for tourism, and that the implementation of the eVisa system would inspire more confidence in potential visitors to South Africa.
An applicant for the eVisa will simply need to meet the South Africa visa requirements which include having a valid passport. Eligible travelers will be able to complete the online application form in just a few minutes with personal and passport information, and answer a few security-related questions, to receive an approved eVisa via email.
South Africa E-Visa Is Being in Kenya before Being Rolled Out to Several Countries
Home Affairs Minister Mavuso originally shared that the new South Africa visa application would first be implemented as a pilot scheme in a few countries in mid-2019. However, Siya Qoza, a spokesperson for the Department of Home Affairs then confirmed that the system would be tested for Kenyan nationals only. Qoza said that, “the pilot will be conducted with Kenya first at the OR Tambo and Lanseria Airports.” He added, “we will evaluate the project and look at other countries to expand the e-Visa system to.”
Once any glitches identified during the pilot phase have been fixed, the eVisa will be rolled out to other countries. The full list of eligible countries for the eVisa has not yet been made available, but is expected to be announced soon.
To complement the introduction of the eVisa system, South Africa is also finalizing the development of a new Biometric Movement Control System. The first step is the implementation of e-gates at Cape Town International airport, with the scheme to be expanded to other airports once the initial trial has concluded.
South African Home Affairs have confirmed that the main objective of the e-gates project, like that of the eVisa system, is “the facilitation of movement of low-risk travelers”, demonstrating that the government is fully committed to making it easier for visitors to experience the country and contribute to its growth.
The ministry is taking several steps to open up South Africa and making it easier for foreigners to visit. Besides introducing the electronic visa system, on July 10th, 2019, Aaron Motsoaledi, Minister of Home Affairs, declared that citizens of seven countries will be able to travel to South Africa without applying for a visa. The 7 countries that will be able to travel visa-free to South Africa are: Qatar, Ghana, New Zealand, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates.
How Coronavirus Travel Restrictions Will Affect the South African eVisa Program
Like many other nations in the world, the South African government has imposed in March 2020 a lockdown on the country to ensure the safety of South African and foreign citizens within the national territory and minimize the risk of contagion.
Measures put in place against COVID also include the closure of South African borders to international tourism and other travel restrictions.
The Department of Tourism released a briefing with a provisional timeline for the easing of travel restrictions:
- Starting from June 1st, 2020, certain areas of business tourism have been authorized to operate
- Domestic tourism will resume in December 2020
- International tourism will resume in February 2021
This may change in the future as the situation develops.
As a result of these extraordinary measures, the eVisa program extension to other nationalities may be postponed until travel restrictions are lifted.