Travelling to South Africa

South Africa tightens immigration rules

2 June 2014

South Africa's new immigration rules aim to balance the need for better security with the contribution migration makes to economic development and prosperity, newly appointed Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba told journalists in Pretoria on Friday.

The Immigration Regulations of 2014 came into effect on Monday 26 May, marking the commencement of the Immigration Amendment Acts of 2007 and 2011.

"The draft regulations were published in the Government Gazette on 14 February for public comment. The closing date for public comment was 28 February but was extended to 7 March to allow for more submissions," Gigaba said.

Changes under the new regulations

Changes under the new regulations include the following:

  • The word "visa" replaces the word "permit", except in the instance of the permanent residence permit. So a visitor's permit will now be called a visitor's visa, a work permit will be called a work visa, and a study permit will be called a study visa.
  • This will allow a clear distinction between short-stay visas and long-stay permanent residence permits.
  • Every child is now required to possess his or her own passport.
  • A person who is on a visitor's or medical treatment visa may no longer change his or her status while in South Africa, except in exceptional circumstances.
  • Study visas will now be issued for the full duration of the study or course.
  • No business visa will be issued or renewed to a foreigner who intends to establish or invest in a business that is listed as an undesirable business undertaking.
  • A person issued with a business visa must employ or prove that at least 60% of his or her total staff complement are South African citizens or permanent residents.
  • Quota work permits and exceptional skills work permits have been repealed. A critical skills work visa has been introduced by the Act.
  • An intra-company transfer work visa will be issued for a period of four years.
  • A corporate visa will be issued to South African corporate applicants to employ a number of foreigners for a period not exceeding three years, after showing the need for employment of such foreigners.
  • An exchange visa (for persons under 25 years) will not be granted to conduct work defined as undesirable. (Definitions will be published in the Government Gazette by the minister of home affairs after consultation with the minister of trade and industry.)
  • An asylum transit visa issued at a port of entry will be valid for a period of five days to enable the holder to report at the nearest refugee reception office.
  • Cross-border and transit permits have been repealed.
  • Persons who overstay for a prescribed number of times will be declared as undesirable; fines will no longer be charged for overstaying.
  • Owners of or persons in charge of conveyances will be required to provide, through Advance Passenger Processing (APP), passengers' information prior to departing for South Africa.
  • Section 46, which dealt with immigration practitioners, has been repealed, as applicants for visas will now be required to apply in person at the mission in their home country (their country of origin or where they permanently reside).
  • First-time applications for a visa must be made at the mission in the applicant's home country, and only renewals or extensions can be made in South Africa (at VFS Global offices).


South Africa tightens immigration laws Ensuring smooth, safe movement of people through South Africa's ports of entry (Photo: Department of Home Affairs)

SAinfo in your mailbox

Our best stories of the week - free to your email box.

Photo galleries

South Africa's coastline

From the cold Atlantic of the northern Cape to the diver's paradise of Sodwana Bay.

South Africa's wildlife

The famous Big Five - elephant, lion, rhino, leopard and buffalo - and more.

National parks

Kgalagadi's desert, Kruger's wildlife, Mapungubwe's ancient heritage, and more.

South Africa's birdlife

Some of the more striking of the 850 or so bird species recorded in South Africa.

South Africa's plant life

Five major habitat types, and some 10% of the world's flowering species.


Helping the media cover the South African story.

Weather forecasts

South Africa weather forecasts

Snap daily forecasts for 20 cities and