The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) minister, Aaron Motsoaledi, has announced a number of new changes as we head into the festive season. Here’s what you need to know.
Motsoaledi addressed media on 1 December to provide an update on some key announcements by the DHA over the festive season. Some of these changes include the government’s readiness to facilitate smooth travel between borders shared across South Africa as well as the e-Visa pilot.
Increased capacity at ports over the festive season
The DHA announced that it is working with border law enforcement agencies and the six countries sharing borders with our country, to ensure ease of movement for travellers over the festive season. “We want travellers to enter and leave South Africa without hindrance in this peak period, and to do so in a manner that is legally permissible, without breaking any law of our country,” said Minister Motsoaledi.
Capacity will be increased between Wednesday, 4 December 2019 and 13 January 2020.
The ports of entry with traditionally high volumes of movement will have their operating hours increased by between one and seven hours. The Lebombo and Oshoek ports of entry will open for 24 hours on specified days (See schedule below).
Border law enforcement entities have confirmed readiness to handle increased volumes of travellers and goods at all ports of entry. This increase in movement of people and goods, across borders, is due to the inflow and outflow of travellers such as tourists, cross-border workers, business, academics and those on educational activities.
He said that Home Affairs will deploy close to 400 additional officials at selected ports, to assist with delivery of immigration services and offer technical support at the borders. Most of these officials will be posted at the Beit Bridge Port of Entry with Zimbabwe; Lebombo/Komatipoort Port of Entry with Mozambique; Maseru Bridge Port of Entry with Lesotho, and the Ficksburg Port of Entry with Lesotho.
Here is the schedule:
Introducing the e-Visa pilot
The DHA has started with the testing and piloting of the electronic visa application system – e-Visa. The decision to introduce e-Visa was informed by observable benefits of this system. “It is reliable, client-friendly and convenient for visa applicants, airlines, trading partners and Home Affairs officials,” said the Minister.
Once fully rolled-out, prospective visitors will apply online for visas, at home, office or place of work. It will lessen administrative burdens, including those involved in receiving applicants at visa offices, printing visa stickers and returning passports to applicants.
Currently, the department is testing the new system with Kenya. As part of the pilot, a team of DHA immigration and IT officials visited Kenya. This team is scheduled to return to Kenya next week, on 9 December 2019.
“The first Kenyan tourist who applied for the visitors’ visa on the new e-Visa system arrived yesterday afternoon and more are expected this week as part of the pilot,” he said.
“We are continuously monitoring this pilot process to ensure that user experience is not compromised.”
In early 2020, the DHA will include China, India and Nigeria to the pilot which will run until March 2020.
Tunisia added to countries with Visa waivers
“As part of our efforts to attract tourists to South Africa, we have added the Republic of Tunisia to the list of countries which enjoy visa-free status to South Africa,” said the Minister. This means that tourists from this country will come to South Africa without requiring a visa and South Africans can visit Tunisia without a visa as part of reciprocity. The implementation date of this agreement will be decided and communicated after the two countries have agreed on a date.
South Africa has granted 83 countries visa-free status. These countries are among the highest tourist sending nations globally.
Source: Caxton Central