On 17 February 2020, by way of the issuance of an Immigration Directive, the Minister of the Department of Home Affairs, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, announced temporary visa concessions for Chinese visitor’s and workers on temporary residence visas in light of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Who is affected?
This will affect all Chinese nationals who legally entered South Africa.
The novel coronavirus, formally named, COVID-19, emerged in central China in late December 2019 and the latest figures show it has infected more than 75,000 people and has caused the death of over 2000 patients. The World Health Organization has classified COVID-19 a global health threat.
Many countries have set up border screenings and airlines have cancelled flights to and from China to prevent further spread of the virus, which has been detected in around two dozen countries.
The Minister of the Department of Home Affairs confirmed Chinese nationals are not banned from travel to South Africa and made these concessions to ensure the safety of Chinese nationals in South Africa and prevent the further spread of the virus.
Holders of Intra-Company Transfer Work Visas
If a qualifying individual is in possession of an Intra-Company Transfer Work Visa valid until 31 July 2020, they may qualify to change their status to a Visitor’s Visa authorising them to conduct work related activities in terms of Section 11(2) of the Immigration Act. It is important to note that the visa will be issued with an endorsement restricting the change of status or conditions of the visa.
Holders of Visitor’s Visas
If a qualifying individual is in possession of a Visitor’s Visa, same may be extended beyond the maximum period of 6 months. They will be allowed to apply for an extension of their Visitor’s Visa for a further period of 3 months. It is important to note that the visa will also be issued with an endorsement restricting the change of status or conditions of the visa.
Holders of Expired Visas
The holder of any visa which expired from 1 December 2019, up to 29 February 2020, will be allowed to submit a renewal application without having to regularise their stay.
This temporary visa concession is applicable only to Chinese nationals who were legally admitted into South Africa and will apply until 31 July 2020.
Source: Department of international relations & cooperation
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