Read below for an update of COVID-19 in Southern Africa for news or changes which may apply to you and your traveling plans. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to us for more information or clarity.
South Africa: Department of Home Affairs issues directive 7 of 2020
Today Directive 7 of 2020 was issued bringing more clarity to the previously announced travel ban. However, a few points of practical importance are not addressed. We will shed some light into what is clear and what is not.
If you are currently outside South Africa, this is what you should know:
- If you are a national from Germany, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, UK or USA you cannot enter South Africa as a tourist. The visa exemption for such countries is withdrawn.
- If you are a national of Portugal, Hong Kong or Singapore then you cannot enter South Africa as a tourist either. Your visa exemption was withdrawn. However, you are allowed to apply for a visa at the South African mission where you reside. Part of this application is a medical report attesting that you did not tested positive for Covid-19.
- If you are a national from China and you were issued with a visa before, this visa is cancelled and you are not allowed to travel to South Africa.
- If you are a national of any other country and your passport contains evidence that you visited any of the above high-risk countries mentioned in nr. 1, then you will not be able to enter South Africa. South Africa will not issue any visa at the port of entry.
- If you are a South African citizen, you are allowed to return to South Africa but are subject to testing and self-isolation.
If you are currently present in the Republic, this is what you should know:
- All foreigners originating from any country which is affected by the COVID-19 outbreak or who will transit in such a country and whose visa have recently expired, or will expire soon, are allowed to extend such visa until 31 July 2020. This implies that a change of status is not allowed and only the current visa can be extended. We had hope that the department would allow holders of work permits to apply for a sec. 11 (2) visa for instance. This would have made more sense considering the possible maximum extension until end of July 2020.
- If you are a traveller from a high-risk country and you entered South Africa after the 15th of February, you should present yourself for testing. A lot of visitors do not know this.
What is not clear at this stage:
- If you are a national of a high-risk country living in a low risk country and a holder of a long-term temporary residence visa, it is not clear if you should get access or not. In practice however, we fear that you will be denied access.
- It is still not clear how permanent residence holders will be treated. We are of the opinion that they should be treated similar to citizens. Other countries in Africa as well as the US and some EU states treat them equal.
- We also witness since yesterday that some South Africa missions in low risk countries, for instance Peru, are not accepting any visa applications referring to the travel ban. This is also applicable to other low risk countries. Clearly such nationals should be allowed to submit their applications, they should be adjudicated, and they should be allowed to enter South Africa, unless the visited any of the high-risk countries.
- The department of international relations, DIRCO, included France and Switzerland on their list of high-risk countries in their communication to the public on the travel restrictions. So, there is a contradiction to the directive 7 since France and Switzerland are not mentioned in it.
- We are also not sure why all missions in high risk countries are not accepting any applications. We understand why they do not grant them, but would it not be a good idea to accept applications, adjudicate them and then only issue visa when the current restrictions are lifted. Foreigners loose otherwise months until visa are granted.
Namibia has issued a travel ban for all Schengen States, China, Iran, South Korea, Japan, UK and USA. Nationals from such countries will not be issued with a visa at the airport for the next 30 days.
All citizens and permanent residence holders arriving from high-risk countries will be subject to supervised quarantine. The borders to South Africa remain open for the return of citizens and foreigners existing.
In addition a travel suspension for 30 days has been announced for all locals. These measures are in essence a nearly complete lockdown of Namibia for the next 30 days.
Mozambique borders remain open, however, 4 has already been closed. Nationals from countries with more than 1000 COVID-19 cases are not allowed to enter and will not be issued with visa. So, far these are the only travel restrictions. However, we expect that soon also Mozambique will enact stricter controls.
The following borders to Mozambique has been closed:
Even though these recent events have thrown the entire global off its norm, IBN Immigration Solutions are here to advise you on any changes as and when they happen. We will assist you with any questions or problems you might face in regard to your status in a country.
We are here to guide you and give you clarity when you need it.
Please do not hesitate to reach out and contact us at 021 4222 620 or email us at [email protected]