This position was recently clarified in a circular dated 7 September 2022 (Circular).
In terms of the Circular, the Department once again approved the introduction of certain temporary measures to address its severe backlog in the processing of visa and waiver applications. The Circular only applies to foreign nationals who have been legally admitted into South Africa and who are currently waiting for the outcome of their visa and/or waiver applications as follows:
- A blanket temporary extension is granted to foreign nationals who have pending waiver and/or visa applications until 31 March 2023, which will allow the Department additional time to process these applications.
- The temporary blanket extension will allow foreign nationals with pending waiver applications time to collect their waiver outcomes and apply for appropriate visas.
- Foreign nationals who decide to abandon their pending visa and/or waiver applications and depart from South Africa will be allowed to exit at a port of entry on or before 31 March 2023 without being declared undesirable.
- While waiting for the outcome of their visa applications, foreign nationals are prohibited from engaging in any activity, other than those activities that are specifically provided for as part of their current visa conditions.
- Applicants who originate from countries that are exempt from port of entry visa requirements may travel by presenting their receipt from the Visa Facilitation Services (VFS) when they arrive at the port of entry for admission back into South Africa to collect their visa outcomes. However, applicants with pending long-term visa applications who originate from visa restricted countries must obtain a port of entry visa before being re-admitted into South Africa. In addition, these applicants must present their VFS receipt to re-enter South Africa.
As this Circular is the third (and longest) blanket temporary extension of validity that has been granted by the Department to foreign nationals, it is not clear whether any additional extensions will be granted after 31 March 2023. For now, however, foreign nationals with pending visa and waiver applications can breathe a sigh of relief for this welcome certainty (at least until 31 March 2023).