Home Affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi says South Africa’s e-Visa systems will be expanded in the coming financial year to include more visa types.
Delivering his budget debate address on Wednesday (17 May), the minister said that work is underway to develop and expand the current e-Visa system.
He said that Home Affairs is critical to president Cyril Ramaphosa’s investment drive to kickstart the economy, and through Operation Vulindlela, has been given the mandate to improve the country’s overall visa regime.
The minister said that to this effect, South Africa’s e-Visa system will be expanded to 20 more countries during the course of the year.
The platform is for countries that do not have visa-free access to South Africa, and aims to allow travellers from these nations to apply for and process their visas “on a platform in the comfort of their own home”.
In addition to adding more countries to the platform, he said that more visa types will be added to the system, including visas for businesss, study, general work and intra-company transfers.
“Ultimately all visas will available on the system,” the minister said.
According to the department, the e-Visa system has been in place for 14 countries, including Kenya, Cameroon, Iran, Egypt, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Pakistan, DRC, Mexico, India, China, Nigeria and Uganda, for nationals that enter via OR Tambo International airport.
It said that up to the end of March 2023, a total of 12,377 visa applications have been processed on this platform.
The department has run into some challenges, it said, particularly with slow network speeds which resulted in backlogs. However, the establishment of an e-Visa hub has assisted in clearing up applications.
Following a series of enhancements on the system, the department said it is now planning to roll out the e-Visa platform to 20 more non-visa-exempt countries.
These new countries include:
- Ivory Coast
- Slovak Republic
South Africa is reworking its visa regime in a bid to draw critical skills to the country. However, despite its best efforts, Home Affairs has been hit with multiple issues creating backlogs in visa processing which have made it difficult for companies to do so.
In March, the department announced that it would extend the validity of some standing visas while it tries to process over 62,700 applications and waivers that have backed up.
To put the extent of the backlog in context, the department aimed to have most critical skills visas processed within four weeks of application in 2022, but has estimated that it only managed to process 20% of these applications in that time.
This is down from 57% in 2021. The DHA has now set a lofty goal of having 90% of these visas processed in 2023 – however it anticipates only being able to clear the current backlog some time in 2024, so this is looking unattainable.