Although the coronavirus is not (yet) as deadly as the severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus (SARS-Cov) which shocked the world with its emergence in April 2003, the world’s authorities have learned that swift action is needed in order to prevent the widespread distribution of the illness across international borders.
Some countries and airlines have embargoed flights to and from China and have even gone so far as to deny Chinese Nationals who from the Wuhan district (situated in Hubei), entry into state territory.
South Africa has also taken precautionary measures and introduced a temporary visa concession for Chinese nationals currently holding visitors visas and temporary residence visas, in light of the coronavirus outbreak.
It has been communicated that until further notice, Chinese Nationals whose visitor’s visas have already reached the maximum validity period, will be allowed to apply for a new visitor’s visa on the same visa conditions for a further three-month period.
Chinese Nationals who hold intra-company transfer visas, which visas are due to expire on or before 31 July 2020, will be permitted to apply for three-month visitor’s visas (with authorisation to work) in terms of section 11(2) of the Immigration Act.
Chinese Nationals who are holders of temporary residence visas which have already expired since 1 December 2019, and those which will be expiring by 29 February 2020, will be allowed to submit renewal applications for those expired visas without the need to first legalise their status in South Africa (form 20-authorisation for an illegal foreigner to remain in the Country pending an application for status).
These temporary concessions are only valid until 31 July 2020 and is only available to Chinese Nationals who were legally admitted into South Africa.
Unfortunately, these concessions do not seem to provide any relief to non-Chinese citizens, but who are ordinarily resident in China. Non-Chinese citizens who are required to return to China, may need to apply for special authorisation to benefit from these concessions.