DHA has confirmed during a media briefing on February 5 that the short-term recommended changes to the immigration regulations, which came into effect in June 2014, have been completed. Although Apleni said the department was still looking into issuing a travel advisory that would address the recommendation on the issue of ‘strongly advising’ travellers accompanied by minors from visa-exempt countries to carry a UBC.
DHA has stated that, as of December 18, 2015, travellers transiting through Lanseria international Airport, OR Tambo International Airport, King Shaka International Airport and Cape Town International Airport will no longer require transit visas.
The pilot project of capturing biometric data from foreign travellers at South Africa’s international airports has been completed and is now in full effect. All foreign travellers as well as transiting travellers, are submitting biometric data at arrival and transit counters at Lanseria international Airport, OR Tambo International Airport, King Shaka International Airport and Cape Town International Airport. Claudette Vianello, Marketing, Media and PR Manager for Lanseria told Tourism Update that the biometric project was in place and biometric data was being take from all international passengers.
If a traveller’s biometric data was captured at the country of origin during the visa application process, then the traveller would not have to submit biometric data upon arrival into South Africa, confirmed Stoltz. In all other cases, all foreign travellers passing through South Africa’s ports of entry will submit biometrics upon arrival and departure. From January 2016, training had been provided to immigration officials by DHA to ensure efficient use and management of the biometric capturing system, said Apleni.
In October 2015, DHA said it would introduce an Accredited Tourism Company programme for China, India and Russia, which would allow accredited travel agents and tour operators to apply for a visa on behalf of the traveller. On January 28, 2016, DHA provided a list of tour operators in China that had been accredited by the Chinese state and DHA. Accredited travel agents and tour operators can now apply for a visa on behalf of the Chinese travellers and the traveller no longer has to apply for a visa in person. Chinese travellers will then submit biometric data on arrival in SA.
Apleni said DHA was undertaking research in relation to forming the Accredited Tourism Company in India and Russia.
The South African Visa Application Centre in Beijing and India told Tourism Update that travellers could apply for a visa in person, via a travel agent or representative, although the VFS Global website says that in some cases, an Indian traveller may have to appear at the South African High Commission in Delhi and the Consulate General of the Republic of South Africa in Mumbai before the visa is issued.
Apleni said the department would now move on to implementing the medium-term recommendations, which should be completed by October 31. The next recommendations include increasing visa facilitations centres in Zimbabwe, United Arab Emirates and Bostwana and looking into issuing visas on arrival to travellers who already have a valid visa for the UK, USA, Canada and any other country that applies stringent checks on visitors to their country. Apleni said DHA was also going to consider a visa waiver for China, India and Russia.
DHA said all recommendations to the immigration regulations should be completed by March 2017.