RECTIFICATION AND TRANSFER OF VISAS

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Information published on the VFS website has introduced significant changes with regard to rectification and transfer of visas. The validity period of your visa is now subject to the validity period of your passport.

The Department of Home Affairs initially issued visas for the duration requested or the maximum period provided by law for the different visa categories regardless of the validity of the applicant’s passport. That is, if an applicant applies for say a business visa for five years (maximum at a time) and his passport is only valid for four years, the five years visa requested will be issued to the applicant regardless of the fact that his/her passport is only valid for four years. With the five years visa, he/she can then apply for transfer of visa when he acquires a new passport. Also, applications for rectifications for errors on visas were allowed on a number of grounds provided that the applicant supply sufficient information to support the rectification. But this will no longer be the case, it seems.

With the recent changes introduced by the Department of Home Affairs, the validity of visas will depend on the validity of the applicant’s passport and rectifications will only be allowed when there is sufficient evidence that the error originated from the Department of Home Affairs and not the client.

To apply for a rectification the applicant will have to prove that the mistake was on the Department’s part and not on his/her part by submitting the initial application form as submitted to VFS when he/she submitted the initial application. Applicants are therefore advised to keep copies of their application until the approved visa is received and checked to make sure there are no errors on the visa label. In terms of the new directive errors on the application form captured by the Department of Home Affairs cannot be rectified.

If the situation remains as per these recent changes no visas will be valid beyond the expiry date of the holder’s passport and no transfer of an existing visa from an old passport to a new one will be permitted except:

  • where a valid visa is in lost/stolen passport;
  • where a valid visa is in a damaged passport; and
  • where a valid visa is in a full passport without sufficient pages.

To apply for a transfer of visa in the above situations, the applicant will have to make a new application for a temporary visa transfer through VFS. Although there is no application fee for this application there is a VFS service fee which is payable before the applicant can schedule appointment to submit the application.

Applicants who received their visa from a South African Mission abroad are advised to first send an email to elzabe.fisher@dha.gov.za to confirm the authenticity of their visa before applying for rectification/transfer of the visa. Once written confirmation has been received from Elzabe, the applicant can go ahead to complete the online application form and submit the application at VFS.

If the application is approved, the Department of Home Affairs will issue a new visa label with the same expiry date as on the lost/damaged/stolen passport. The visa condition will be the same as on the old visa label the only new information will be the new VFS rectification or transfer reference number depending whether you are making an application for rectification or transfer.

The concern with this new directive is that most visas are issued beyond the applicant’s passport validity and as such it will mean the visas are only valid as long as the applicant’s passport is valid. That is, if your passport is valid for 3 years and you have a four years visa in it, that visa is only valid for the 3 years for which your passport is valid. The 1 year above your passport validity cannot be transferred to a new passport and you will not be allowed to travel with a new passport with the valid visa on the expired passport as before. Visas holders should make sure they check the validity of their passports and if it is less than their visa validity, holders need to get a new passport and apply for renewal of their visa at least 2 months before their passport expires. Failing to apply before the applicant’s passport expires, irrespective of the validity of applicant’s visa, the applicant will become illegal and termed “undesirable” and banned from entering South Africa for a period between 1 to 5 years.

Should you need more information and/or advice on this, please contact George Mua at mua@chrisfick.co.za or at 021-424 3937.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

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