The Department of Home Affairs says it has put in place temporary measures to deal with immigration matters during the lockdown period.
After the declaration of the National State of Disaster on 15 March followed by the National lockdown on 27 March, extended until the end of April, the department put temporary measures which will remain until 31 July 2020.
Home Affairs says the measures apply only to foreign nationals who have been admitted into South Africa legally.
“Visa concessions listed below apply to those visas that expired from 15 February 2020, unless a person has proof that he or she already submitted an application for a visa extension prior to 15 February 2020 and the outcome is pending,” said the department.
EXPIRY OF VISAS
The Home Affairs Department says it will not declare holders of temporary residence visas who did not renew their visas before the lockdown which expired mid-February 2020 illegal or prohibited persons.
“Any person whose visa expired before or during the lockdown will not be arrested or detained for holding an expired visa. Those who opt to return to their countries of origin or residence after the lockdown, instead of renewing their visas will not be declared undesirable upon departure,” said the D.H.A.
The department said it was not adjudicating applications for visas and for permanent residence during the lockdown period.
“Foreign nationals whose visas expired after 15 February 2020 may reapply for their visas or relevant visa exemption while in the Republic, immediately after the lockdown has been lifted. They will not be required to apply for authorisation to remain in the country (Good Cause/Form 2020),” the department said.
Visas of foreign nationals which expired after 15 February 2020 and had already scheduled appointments on dates which fall within the lockdown period are requested to reschedule to an available date after the lockdown.
WORK, STUDENTS AND BUSINESS
Foreign nationals whose visas expired during the lockdown and those whose applications had already been submitted and pending will be allowed to work, study or conduct business after the lockdown while waiting for the outcome of the applications.
“Visas issued to nationals of high-risk countries, who were outside the Republic on 15 March 2020, were revoked as per the Disaster Management Act, 2020. These visas remain revoked,” said the department.
The D.H.A added that all foreign nationals who are currently in South Africa may not depart, except for cases relating to expatriation initiated by another state during the lockdown.
Whilst holders of the Lesotho Special Permit have up until June the 15th 2020 to submit their applications for the Lesotho Exemption Permit.
The Lesotho Special Permit which expired on 31 December 2019 remains valid until 15 June 2020 and no new applications will be taken.
“Any asylum seeker whose visa expired from 16 March 2020 to the end of the lockdown period, will not be penalised or arrested, provided that they legalise their visa within 30 calendar days of the lockdown being lifted.”the department said.