Many foreign nationals are able to apply for a South African consulate visa when preparing to visit South Africa. The visa enables eligible citizens to visit for up to 90 days. Those who overstay their visa are subject to certain consequences.
Before regulations changed in 2014, the consequence of overstaying a South African visa entailed a fine upon departure which also depended on the amount of time overstayed. However, travelers who overstay their visa for South Africa may now face more stringent sanctions.
Regardless of the reason for the South African visa overstay, applicants will be sanctioned with a declaration of undesirability. This is defined in the Immigration Amendment Act. No 13 of 2011 as:
“A person that overstays within the Republic after the expiry of their visa will be declared as undesirable”.
The declaration of undesirability will also ban the traveler from returning to South Africa for a specific period of time which is decided in accordance with the time overstayed on the visa.
South African Visa Penalty Ban Periods
The penalty of overstay of visa in South Africa depends on the length of time overstayed on the visa.
A South Africa visa overstay of fewer than 30 days will mean that travelers will be banned for a period of 12 months. In addition, they will also be given the status of “undesirable person”.
In the event that a traveler overstays their visa for more than 30 days, the ban period will be at least 5 years. The status of “undesirable person” will also be given to the traveler upon receiving the ban.
The grounds upon which a person can be declared undesirable vary between cases and are not exhaustive.
What If I Overstay My Visa?
Each case is different and while overstaying your visa is sanctioned seriously in South Africa, there are ways of avoiding visa overstay such as applying for a visa extension. You can apply for a visa extension while in South Africa by visiting an embassy or consulate.
At present, you can renew your visa by 60 days. However, this will be easier to do in the future as travelers will be able to apply for a South African eVisa and complete the whole application process online.
There are many factors that could influence reasons for overstaying a visa and there are also circumstances in which travelers can appeal. If you have been sanctioned for overstaying your visa and would like to appeal, read more below about how to appeal for overstay.
How to Appeal for Overstay for South Africa
Any person who has been given the status of “undesirable person” and been banned from re-entering South Africa for a certain time period has the right to appeal. Regardless of citizenship, anyone can appeal to the Department of Home Affairs. This procedure is called “Appeal for Overstay”.
If you wish to appeal, you must do so within 10 days of being declared undesirable and receiving the ban. The Department of Home Affairs will be able to attend to the appeal within approximately 48 hours. However, there is no guarantee on the time scale of the appeal process as immigration-related matters can take longer to process.
In order for the traveler’s immigration status to be changed after overstaying a visa in South Africa, applicants must be able to provide reasoning for why the status of undesirability should be removed. The reason(s) must be substantial in order to motivate the Department of Home Affairs to change the immigration status of the person in question.
Certain factors may be of support when appealing, particularly in written representation:
- Work contracts
- Residency applications pending
- Medical conditions
- Visiting a member of family
It is possible to affect your appeal negatively by having previous history of overstaying a visa. Those with a serious medical condition may also have difficulty appealing. Nevertheless, it is still possible to appeal for overstay.
Applicants who apply for a visa extension of an existing visa that expires while the visa renewal is in submission will not be able to appeal and they will be given the status of undesirable. This law falls under the 2014 Amendment and Directive 9, Regulation 27(3) when read with Section 30(1)(h).
For more information regarding the South African visa, read our News section for regular updates.