South Africa: Home Affairs extends visa validity and announces resumption of identity requests

Interior Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi has extended until December 31, 2021 the validity period of legally issued visas or asylum permits, which expired during the lockdown period.

In a statement released Thursday, Home Affairs announced that the minister had also approved the resumption of requests for identity documents (ID) and passports.

Instructions communicating these changes, in accordance with national disaster status regulations, were published on Tuesday, September 28, 2021.

People who have received temporary identity certificates and those who have lost their identity documents can now return to the home affairs offices to request their identity documents. These pieces of identification will be available for collection within 13 days of the day of the request.

The extension applies to persons who have requested exemptions under section 31 (2) (c) of the Immigration Act 2002 and to holders of asylum seeker visas / permits or status refugee.

The extension does not apply to persons entering the country from March 15, 2021. The normal validity period for visas for persons admitted to the country from March 15, 2021 applies.

Qualifying visas or permits for holders who have not left South Africa since the announcement of the National State of Disaster in March 2020 and arrived with a valid visitor visa between December 2019 and March 14, 2021, are deemed valid until the end of December 2021.

“Holders of such visas are allowed to remain in the country under the conditions of their visas until the expiration of their applicable extension. Those who wish to be repatriated to their country within this period can leave without being declared undesirable persons”, specified the department.

Refugee reception centers remain closed to people without an appointment. The validity of asylum and refugee permits that expired during confinement and whose holders were unable to use the online extension service, has been extended until December 31, 2021.

Asylum seekers and refugees are encouraged to continue renewing their permits through the online platform.

As of September 8, 2021, the department has extended 24,333 Section 24 (refugee status) and 69,185 Section 22 (asylum seeker permit) via the online platform since its activation in April 2021. A total of 93,518 permits asylum seeker and refugee status had been extended online. Holders of a visa or permit must abide by the terms and conditions of their visa and any activity not listed on that visa or permit is prohibited.

The set of services available to Home Affairs are: birth registration; late birth registration; the reissue of birth, marriage and death certificates; requests for unabridged birth, marriage and death certificates, including copies of the safe; registration of deaths; requests for temporary identity certificates; requests and collection of identity card or document, requests and collection of passports.

This also includes the celebration and registration of marriages, requests for retention and renunciation of nationality, requests for rectification and modification of personal data. It also includes travel document requests for people who have to hold a job or study abroad, attend funerals or other emergency situations on presentation of supporting documents, visa services within the meaning of Immigration Law and Online Renewal of Refugee Status and Asylum Seeker Permits / Visa.

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