Following public comment received in response to the Draft First Amendment of the Immigration Regulations, 2014, the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) plans to issue a travel advisory early in 2017, making changes to controversial elements such as the unabridged birth certificate for under-18s.

At a stakeholder briefing highlighting the progress on implementation of measures recommended by the inter-ministerial committee, Richard Stoltz, from Immigration Services at the DHA, said that although the Immigration Advisory Board had endorsed the proposed amendments, it was inappropriate to implement the advisory prior to the peak season of global travel.  The delayed implementation will prevent last-minute interference of travellers over the peak period.

Anemé Malan, responsible for International Tourism at the Department of Tourism, said the advisory would detail specific documents accepted for proving relationships with minors in the instance of visitors coming from visa-exempt countries.

Stoltz said a change already effected in the regulation was the substitution of the term ‘unabridged birth certificate’ with ‘birth certificate’. Further, from February 2017 it will be possible for South African passport holders to have parents’ details printed in the passports of minors, obviating the need to carry a birth certificate.

Stoltz also updated the stakeholders on visa facilitation centres established in Botswana, United Arab Emirates and Zimbabwe. He further advised that a visa waiver had been granted for ordinary passport holders of the Russian Federation for a period of 90 days, and that a visa waiver agreement for official/service passport holders had recently been signed with China. He pointed out that visa waivers were dependent on reciprocity.

The possibility of visas on arrival for persons travelling to South Africa who held valid visas for the UK, USA, Canada or any other country that applied stringent visa checks, was dependent on a balance between risk and facilitation of movement, said Stoltz. The DHA’s 2019/2020 Strategic Plan foresees the introduction of innovative technology, such as e-Visas and e-Permits, to aid in this balance.

Comment on the draft amendments was received from government departments, corporates, private entities and individuals.