March 17, 2015
Pretoria, South Africa
For passport holders from most countries, visiting South Africa is pretty straight forward. Just show up at the border and receive a 90 days tourist visa waiver, voila!
Things get more complicated for those desiring to extend their stay past 90 days. Until recently one could just do a “border run”, that is exit south Africa by travelling to an adjacent country and re-enter South Africa to receive a new 90 days waiver.
Unfortunately the law has recently changed and only a 7 day extension is now granted upon re-entry. The only exception to the rule is if you travel back to your home country.
For us it was obviously not an economically viable option, we therefore had to deal with the dreaded Department of Home Affairs. In a nugget here is what you need to know:
- You have 30 days after your arrival to apply for a visa extension
- The DHA has entrusted the Visa Facilitation Services with the handling of visa extension applications. This means you will have to pay both organizations, 425 Rands for the DHA, 1350 Rands to VFS.
- Gather the required documents including proof of financial means and return ticket. Pay the required fees ahead of time via Electronic Fund Transfer, credit card would have been too convenient. Make your appointment well ahead of the 30 days deadline using the VFS How to apply
- On the day of your appointment be prepared to wait 3 to 5 hours to submit your application and register your fingerprints.
- Track the status of your application online, expect a 3 to 5 weeks delay
- Return to VFS offices and waste another 1 to 2 hours to collect your visa. The “Optiqueue” system does not work for visa collection, you can therefore ignore the number printed on your ticket and proceed to play musical chairs. Be sure to bring your original receipt and your passport
- If you are lucky enough to receive your visa extension the first time around, be sure to double check its expiration date, VFS has been know to make mistakes.