Frequently Asked Questions

Who is the Department of Home Affairs?

The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) is the custodian, protector and verifier of the identity and status of citizens and other persons resident in the Republic of South Africa. This makes it possible for people to realize their rights and access benefits and opportunities in both the public and private domains.  DHA controls, regulates and facilitates immigration and the movement of persons through the ports of entry. The Department also provides civics and immigration services at foreign missions; and determines the status of asylum seekers and refugees in accordance with international obligations. The department thus makes a significant contribution to ensuring national security, enabling economic development and promoting good international relations.

Department of Home Affairs website

Who is VFS Global 

VFS (Visa Facilitation Services) Global, which is the largest outsourcing and technology service specialist to governments and diplomatic missions worldwide, has been appointed by Department of Home Affairs to facilitate and manage the visa applications.

VFS South Africa website

All foreign nationals applying for any category of temporary residence visas and permanent residence in South Africa will be required to present him/herself in person at the VFS office of submission to submit the respective application and complete his/hers biometric data. VFS Global forwards the application to the Department of Home Affairs for processing and the final decision of your application lies with the Department of Home Affairs.

VFS Global does not play any part in the adjudication of your application.

Click on the link your nearest VFS office of submission.

VFS South Africa application centres

Do I need a visa to attend business meetings in the republic?

Refer to the following link for visa information as visa exempt national and non visa exempt national.

Visa Information

Can I apply for a work visa whilst holding a visitors?

  • The immigration legislation does not permit a holder of visitors visa or medical visa to change status in South Africa, except in certain exceptional circumstances as prescribed per legislation.
  • The initial work visa is applied for outside the of the republic at the South African Embassy in your country or residence (provided you have a valid status to submit such an application).

What is the type of Visa issued for my accompanying spouse and children?

  • The accompanying spouse and non-school going children is issued with a visitor’s visa for up to 3 years.
  • Children attending school in South Africa are issued with a study visa.

What is the validity period of a study visa?

The study visa is valid for the duration of the period of study provided that the study visa is issued for studies at a primary school shall not exceed 8 years and for a secondary school shall not exceed 6 years. A study visa shall automatically lapse if the holder thereof fails to register with or de-register from the learning institution. As of recent the study visa for university studies will be endorsed with the condition to conduct part time work not exceeding 20 hours per week.

Would my child require a study visa if he/or she attends nursery school/kindergarten?

According to the South African Schools Act of 1996, schooling is compulsory for all South Africans from the age of 6. In terms of legislation, the independent and public schools admissions are as follows:

  • Grade R: is age 4 turning 5 by 30th of June in the year of admission.
  • Grade 1: is age 5 turning 6 by 30th June in the year of admission.

Based on the above, if the child is following a formal curriculum at the school, a study visa would be required. At an age lower than the admission age mentioned above, you would have to consult with the head of the school to ascertain if a study visa is mandatory. In this instance, a visitors visa may suffice.

Is my Spouse allowed to work in South Africa on a Visitor’s visa?

Your spouse cannot work on a visitor’s visa and would have to apply for a work visa in terms of legislation.

Can my surviving parent/s accompany me whilst on assignment?

  • The immigration legislation does not make provision for accompanying parents unless you are a relative to a South African citizen or permanent residence holder.
  • If you are a sole supporter to your surviving parents, the department of Home Affairs may consider the approval of such visa application, based on the motivation and evidence provided in your case.

What is the processing time of my application submitted abroad?

The processing time varies per South African Embassy, hence the processing time on average is between 10 – 20 working days, depending on the Embassy’s work load.

Are there any specific requirements when travelling with children to and from South Africa?

Refer to following link for more information when traveling with children. Link

What is the procedure to follow if my passport is about to expire or if my passport has been lost or stolen containing a valid work visa for South Africa?

Refer to the following link for further information.


Can I renew my work visa in South Africa, including that of my accompanying family?

  • An application for an extension can be submitted in person at the office of VFS global in no less than 60days prior to the expiry date of your work visa.
  • Please note that certain categories of work visa cannot be renewed in South Africa, example, a Intra Company Transfer work visa issued for 4 years cannot be renewed in South Africa.
  • The accompanying family members applications can be submitted simultaneously for such renewal. please note all family members must present at VFS Centre for the submission of their applications.

What is the processing time for the renewal application

  • The governed processing time is +8 weeks, subject to the departments work load.
  • Applications submitted at VFS GGDA Sandton office, the processing time is 4 weeks. This option is only applicable to registered corporate companies with Home Affairs.

What will be the repercussions if I overstay in the Country?

A foreign national whom overstays in South Africa for longer than the expiry date of their visa, will be marked undesirable.

Once you have been marked undesirable, you will not be able to re-enter South Africa or submit any visa application at the SA embassy abroad.

The penalties enforced are as follows per legislation:-

  • Overstay of a period not exceeding 30 days, be declared undesirable for a period of 12 months.
  • Overstay for the second time within a period of 24 months, be declared undesirable for a period of 2 year; and
  • Overstay for more than 30days, be declared undesirable for a period of 5 years.

Persons who are declared undesirable may submit a written representation (Appeal) to  overstayappeals@dha.gov.za in compliance with all prescribed requirements.

How can I avoid being marked undesirable?

When an illegal foreigner whose visa has expired and was unable to apply in time for an extension or renewal of his/her visa at the VFS centre, due to circumstance beyond his/her control, he or she would be referred to the inspectorate (at Regional Home Affairs office) to determine whether or not good cause exists in the renewal application not being applied on time.

How do I obtain a letter of good cause?

  • The illegal foreigner will have to present himself or herself to the inspectorate (Any Regional Home Affairs Office) to determine whether any good cause exists as to why he or she had not applied on time.
  • On receipt of the motivation for good cause, the immigration officer will conduct an interview and obtain the necessary documentary proof collaborating good cause.
  • Once the investigation has been concluded, the immigration officer prepares a report for the Office Head, whom then forwards the report to the District Manager Operations/Director: Immigration Services to indicate if he or she supports the recommendation.
  • The report with the recommendation from the District Manager Operations/Director: Immigration Services will be transmitted to the Provincial Manager for a decision and the signing of form DHA-1759 (Form 20).
  • The Provincial Manager is delegated with powers to authorise the illegal foreigner to remain in the Republic pending the application of status.
  • Should the decision be positive, the illegal foreigner is to approach the VFS centre to apply for the relevant visa.
  • In the event of the provincial manager not approving the application for good cause, the immigration officer will follow the prosecution or deportation processes of an illegal foreigner.