Controversial SA visa regulations put on hold

After consultation between Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom and Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba, changes have been made to the controversial South African immigration rules announced earlier this year. The requirement for children travelling to South Africa to carry an unabridged birth certificate has now been postponed until 1 June 2015.

SAA airplane

The introduction of these new rules was – not surprisingly – met with an avalanche of criticism, with an almost immediate negative impact felt within the tourism industry. Photo credit: atlanticstorm (Christopher_Griner) via photopin cc

The initial regulations, which came into effect on 26 May 2014, included the rule that anyone travelling with a minor would need to be in possession of the child’s unabridged birth certificate. In some instances, in the case of the minor travelling with only one parent an affidavit by the other parent would need to be produced as well as translations of birth certificates issued in other languages.

Minister Gigaba initially dismissed any suggestions that the regulations were too extreme, saying that measures to combat child trafficking and deal with asylum seekers and security threats were long overdue. According to Gigaba, “We must not be caught napping in any eventuality. We need to know the identities of the people coming into South Africa and we cannot know unless they apply in person.”

But after Gigaba and Hanekom’s consultation, the two said in a joint statement that the new immigration regulations could have unintended consequences and practical implementation difficulties. They agreed that these should be managed in a reasonable and constructive manner. Gigaba has since announced that the new requirement of an unabridged birth certificate for all children travelling to and within South Africa has been postponed until 1 June 2015. It was also agreed that various visa facilitation centres will be set up closer to where applicants live.

1st Contact Visas will keep you updated on any future developments that might affect your travels to South Africa.

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