Home Affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi says that his department has concluded its e-visa pilot process and now plans to officially roll the system out later this year.
Responding in a written parliamentary Q&A, Motsoaledi said that the rollout is envisaged to commence in the second quarter of the 2021/2022 financial year for short-term visitor’s visa applications.
He added that the government is in process of setting up an e-visa adjudication hub and that staff for the e-visa adjudication hub are currently in their final stages of training.
The rollout of more e-visas is expected to be beneficial for both tourists and for the local economy as the system significantly reduces the amount of administrative time and requirements required for visitors to enter South Africa.
The entire e-visa application process takes place online and takes around 20 minutes, provided the applicant has all of the necessary supporting documents ready for submission.
Should one of the required documents be missing, applicants can resume the process exactly where they left off at a later date.
As international travel starts to recover in the wake of Covid-19, Home Affairs has previously said that it intends to rollout the e-visa system and service to visitors from China, India, Nigeria, Kenya and 10 other countries.
The full list of countries which could receive e-visas, subject to approval, includes:
- Saudi Arabia
The rollout of e-visas could be hampered by the travel restrictions currently imposed on South Africa by a number of key countries.
Major travel markets have kept restrictions on South Africa in place over fears of possible variant transmission – including the UK and large parts of the European Union.
While the US has lowered restrictions in recent weeks, the country’s health authorities still advise against unnecessary travel to South Africa.
A mapping tool developed by travel website Skyscanner shows that as of 23 June, South Africa has 83 ‘major restrictions’ from other countries in place. This is up from around 60 major restrictions before the third Covid wave hit.
These countries have suspended travel, may be closed to entry, or entry may only be possible if you are a citizen/meet strict entrance requirements.
By comparison, there are currently 29 moderate restrictions in place for South Africa, where travel is possible, but only if travellers meet certain entry requirements which can include taking Covid-19 tests.