27 July 2020 by Employment Alert

Expired visa due to COVID-19? Be at ease, your visa may be extended until 31 October 2020

Although there are difficulties arising from the COVID-19 lockdown, there is relief for foreign nationals with expired visas who are unable to submit visa renewal applications in the Republic of South Africa.

Following the national lockdown implemented on 27 March 2020, to contain the spread of COVID-19, the Ministry of Home Affairs introduced temporary measures to accommodate foreign nationals with expired visas. The Ministry of Home Affairs introduced a special concession which allowed foreign nationals, whose visas expired during the lockdown, to stay legally in the country. This extension was due to expire on 31 July 2020. The temporary measures were introduced after President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster on 15 March 2020.

During his budget speech in the National Assembly on Wednesday 22 July 2020, Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced a further extension of expired visas given the COVID-19 crisis. 

The extension will be valid until end of October 2020. This simply means that foreign nationals whose visas expired from mid-February 2020, but could not apply for visa renewals, will not be declared illegal or prohibited persons. Persons falling within this category can consequently remain in South Africa, and work, if their initial expired visas allowed for working activities.

Those foreign nationals opted to repatriate themselves after the expiry of their visas, but before 31 July 2020, was also not to be declared undesirable upon departure. Although we have not yet seen the new regulations, we assume that the same concession will now apply with the new expiration date being 31 October 2020.

These temporary measures apply only to foreign nationals who have been legally admitted into the Republic. Seemingly, foreign nationals who hold expired work visas and whose visas expired during the lockdown, will be allowed to legally work until end of October 2020. Minister Motsoaledi said regulations providing for this extension would be announced before the end of July 2020.

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