The film and model industry is of vital importance for the Western Cape but also actually for Gauteng. The current immigration legislation actually recognized the importance of the industry and created a special three year visa, which is a visitor visa, for employees or professionals working in this sector. In the past, directors as well as models as well as camera men had basically two options to work in South Africa. The first one was the short term work visa, section 11.2, and the second one was also a section 11.1 visitor visa, but a three year one. Usually, the three year work visa was issued in the name of the employer.

Significant changes for the industry

However, in early 2018, the Department of Home Affairs has issued a very important Directive, Directive 4 of 2018, which entails significant changes for the industry.

In the following I would like to give a brief overview of the changes.

One of the most significant changes is regarding the place of submission. Usually an applicant has to submit his/her visa application in the country of passport or the country of usual residence.

In practice this was very difficult for actors, models, and other participants in the film industry due to their shoots in various countries.

According to the directive submission can now even take place in the country where actors and others are currently shooting. It is important to note that the visa application must be accompanied by a letter from one of the recognized professional bodies.

The second significant change is that the visa will not be issued anymore with the name of the company for which the applicant will work. So in the future, any applicant applying for the section 11.2 or a section 11.1.b.4., the correct wording on the visa should read “to be admitted for x days to conduct work in the film/modelling industry”, and not to list a specific company name on the visa. The crucial requirement here is that either application must be accompanied by a letter from FIVA (Film Industry Visa Assistance NPC). This letter must be present when applying for the appropriate visa.

Faster processing times

Thirdly, the directive contains recommendations for processing times, they are in line with the current processing times for the short term visas in most embassies, which are between 5-10 working days and the long term visitor visa should be issued within thirty days. The directive reduces this to take 10 days which is significantly faster than other work visas at other embassies.

An additional very important part of the directive is that the directive instructs the missions and actually the applicants to apply in general for the long term 3 year visitor visa instead of the ninety days short term work. There are exceptions to this recommendation, but in general it is advisable that participants in the industry rather apply for the 3 year visa instead of the short term one.

The 3 year visa is a multiple entry visa, therefore people can come for shorter stays or longer stays as the work requires.

Despite public criticism towards the Department of Home Affairs in many instances might be justified, this directive proves that they do take the concerns of important sectors seriously and try to accommodate them as good as they can in terms of the current legislation.

The above mentioned directive contains very significant changes and is addressing important issues from the film industry.


by Andreas Krensel