South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has made headlines with its recent directive affecting short-term visa extension applications.
Can’t get your short-term visa extension approved in South Africa? – Here’s why
This move is part of a broader effort to manage the backlog of visa applications, a situation exacerbated by pandemic-related delays.
Here’s a breakdown of the situation and its implications:
The DHA has set a firm deadline for short-term visitors who have not received visa renewals by Friday, 23 February 2024. These individuals, specifically those whose visas were valid for 90 days or less and were issued up to 30 November 2023, are required to leave South Africa by Thursday, 29 February 2024 or face being declared undesirable — meaning they must leave by the end of the month
This decision, according to the department, is a way of addressing the visa backlog by ensuring that those without approved extensions make the necessary arrangements to exit the country promptly.
This abrupt policy has caused concern among seasonal expats and tourists, who typically enjoy longer stays.
The directive has been critiqued for its potential negative impact on the local economy, especially in areas like the Western Cape, which benefits significantly from the spending and investment of these visitors.
Western Cape Minister for Finance and Economic Development and Tourism Mireille Wenger blasted the new directive, warning that chasing away ‘swallows’ and ‘sun-chasers’ could compromise “national and provincial economic growth.”
“This is because they [the terms] appear irregular, procedurally unfair, and constitutionally questionable,” Wenger was quoted as saying on Moneyweb.
Why is South Africa grappling with a visa backlog issue?
Primarily, Home Affairs’s revised stance against the lucrative short-stay culture stems from the department’s massive visa backlog issue that, inadvertently, has delayed South Africa’s digital nomad visa.
The backlog in processing visa and waiver applications has been a longstanding issue for the DHA, worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Efforts to alleviate this backlog have included temporary extensions and concessions for various visa categories. However, these measures have been insufficient in fully resolving the delays.
The recent directive calls to attention the challenges faced by the DHA in managing immigration processes efficiently and the broader implications for South Africa’s economy and international reputation.
What to do if you’re denied a South Africa short-term visa extension
Tourists with short-term visas due to expire and who are caught in the backlog are urged to comply with the new directive to avoid complications.
This might include making immediate travel arrangements to leave the country by the stipulated deadline.
For those seeking to extend their stay, it is crucial to stay informed about any updates from the DHA and consider consulting with immigration experts for guidance on navigating this uncertain situation.