The pain of applying for a South African visa is now on its death bed if the plan by the country’s government works for Kenyans.
Throughout this month, South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs has been piloting the issuance of e-visas in a move meant to test the effectiveness of the system.
The exercise which has been tedious for many applicants should take around 20 minutes now, according to the department.
Kenyan applicants are advised to have the South Africa e-visa requirements in hand when completing the online form.
In this setting, Kenyans do not have to visit the South African embassy in Nairobi or fill out paperwork. In addition, waiting in long lines when applying for a visa will also be a thing of the past.
As long as one is a Kenyan passport holder, the online e-visa application process can be completed from anywhere.
For ease of application, Kenyans should be ready to provide basic details like passport information and trip details.
To avoid disappointments, Kenyans are advised to complete the South Africa e-visa application form first before travelling.
Throughout November, South Africa is processing online visa applications from Kenyan travellers.
Growing tourism sector
“This would allow to identify any issues with the system, the difficulty of said issues and possible solutions. After the trial period with Kenya, South Africa will slowly roll out the e-visa to additional countries.”
The driving force behind the Department of Home Affairs’ move for easier visa application processes is growing the tourism sector.
“Besides the online visa, improving different visas processes would make it more accessible for foreign investors to come to South Africa, as well as people with skills that are critical to building the local economy,” adds the statement.
On October 7, Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said that his department had lowered turnaround times for critical work-skills to four weeks in 88.5 per cent of the applications it received.
Motsoaledi added that once a traveller’s application has been approved, it will be sent to the email they provided on their application.
According to the minister, South Africa is considering India, China and Nigeria as there is a high number of visa applications from these three countries.
Motsoaledi did not, however, confirm when the e-visa would be available for other countries.
Enhancing security checks
Department spokesperson, Siya Qoza, confirmed that Home Affairs is working alongside the Airport Company South Africa (Acsa) to test e-gates at South Africa airports which will be introduced gradually in different ports of entry.
The introduction of the e-gates has different goals.
“The broad objective of the project is the facilitation of low-risk travellers through a self-service solution, hence freeing capacity for the assessment of high-risk categories by an immigration officer,” adds a statement from the department.
The first phase of the project will focus on South African passport holders, excluding minors.
E-gates would allow: biometric verification, passport authenticity and validity checks, and checks against the BMCS risk engine.
In the future, the e-gates would help address the issue of traveller identification management.
Currently, South Africa does not require visas for citizens from 52countries for stays of up to 30 days while citizens from 28 countries do not need to apply for a visa.
Those from countries without a visa exemption are required to present their visa application at a South African mission (an embassy or consulate).