Foreign expatriates are now allowed to enter South Africa during the National State of Disaster under exceptional circumstances, writes Tasia Brummer, Immigration Specialist at Xpatweb.

This follows the announced amended regulations by the Minister of Department of Home Affairs (DHA) on 03 July 2020. Before the amendment, only South Africans or Permanent Residency holders were able to return to South Africa with special repatriation flights.

Xpatweb’s recent COVID-19 Work Visa Risk Impact Survey shows that from the 152 large multinationals who participated, 34% of their expatriates are stranded outside of the Republic. They have been unable to return to South Africa since the international travel ban, obviously impacting their employers as well as SARS’ tax on their earnings.

Strict criteria
The DHA now allows long-term temporary residency visa holders, such as those on intra-company transfer and critical skill work visas, to return to South Africa. However, certain categories of expatriates remain excluded from entering the Republic. These include expatriates who are travelling from

Visa-exempt countries for short-term visits, which include 

  • Business Trips; and
  • Holiday / Tourism

High risk countries, which are 

  • China;
  • United States of America (USA);
  • United Kingdom (UK);
  • Germany;
  • Iran;
  • Spain;
  • Italy; and
  • South Korea.

Application to enter South Africa
The minimum requirements for a successful application, would typically include –

–        Compelling motivation outlining need to enter South Africa;

–        Copy of passport title page; and

–        Copy of temporary residency visa for South Africa.

The application is then submitted directly to the Minister of the DHA, which subsequently undergoes adjudication by a joint multi-departmental committee meeting held once a week.

The approval of these applications is strictly to the discretion of the Minister of the DHA and his supporting office. This approval must be obtained prior to scheduling any flight bookings to ensure a secure entry into South Africa.

Covid-19 protocol
Once the DHA has approved an application for entry to South Africa, the expatriate will be required to undergo prescribed screening and quarantine measures.

Accordingly, these new regulations may aim to provide relief towards South African Employers and their current global mobility- and risk policies that have been implemented in effort to curb COVID-19.

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