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The Daily Maverick headlines read, “Cost Cutting: South Africa to close 10 embassies and consulates.” What does that mean to SA nationals abroad and what does this mean for international travellers wishing to apply for visas to enter RSA?

Embassies deal with SA nationals abroad while consulates deal with documentation and long term visas and entry information. Where plans to close consulates are afoot, there are consulates found elsewhere in the country. It will mean longer travel distances to lodge long term visas (retirement, relatives, critical skills work visas etc) but a spin-off could see the new e-visa system take off. However, this is not so great for the Embassy closures. The proposed closing of the SA Embassy in Helsinki comes as a shock. SA nationals I assume will have access to toll-free links to other Embassies in neighbouring countries.

The foreign affairs spokesperson concluded that while saving costs it is hoped they can offer “better consular services in those countries via our main or neighbouring embassies”. We can but hope.

All quiet on the local visa situation. It is highly unlikely there will be any further visa amnesty extensions. The online renewal system for refugee and asylum seekers is up and running. Long term visa holders have until the 31st of July to apply for their new visas. Be mindful of the fact that banks will put a temporary hold on your account after this date if you have not yet secured the actual visa in your passport. This will cause endless nightmares as some banks are already demanding proof of new and valid visas from their clients. It appears not everyone reads the DHA press releases. VFS offices are working at full capacity to accommodate the flood of visa applications and clients are seeing a wait of around 4 months for finalisation, in some cases, visas lodged in October have still to be issued. Be warned, apply as soon as possible to avoid falling foul of the Immigration Act.


Yours in immigration news

Tania Copeland