How to Extend Your South Africa Tourist Visa in 13 Steps

Lockdown Update

If you’re stuck in South Africa like we are during the 2020 lockdown and worried about how to extend your South Africa tourist visa, here’s what the Department of Home Affairs has said:

  • “During the lockdown, the Department is not receiving or adjudicating applications for visas and for permanent residence permits.”
  • “Any person whose visa expired before or during the lockdown will not be arrested or detained for holding an expired visa.”
  • “Those who opt to return to their countries of origin or residence after the lockdown instead of renewing their visas will not be declared undesirable upon departure.”

Read the full statement here.

Get the step-by-step instructions for how to extend your South Africa tourist visa, then see our local Cape Town travel blog, Garden Route guide, and “Hectic Route” Joburg to Cape Town Itinerary for ideas on how to get the most out of your extra 90 days in this amazing country.

Tilt the Odds in Your Favor


Based on all the contradictory online reports about how to extend your South Africa tourist visa, it seems like a crapshoot whether applications get accepted, rejection, or something in between.

Kim and I don’t like crapshoots.

We can’t afford to gamble either, so we went to the Visa Facilitation Services (VFS)* offices to get some answers.

Amazingly, we got some!

A surprisingly honest and helpful VFS agent assured us that if we follow the steps he advised, our South Africa tourist visa extension application would be accepted.

Guaranteed. No crapshoot!

And guess what. It worked! We just got approved for an extra 90 days!

Here are the exact steps we followed. Nothing is ever 100% certain, but these tips for how to extend your South Africa visitors permit should at least tilt the odds heavily in your favor.

*VFS is the company to which the South African Department of Homeland Affairs (DHA) outsourced the visa extension process.

13 Steps to Extend Your South Africa Tourist Visa

1. Go to the VFS online application page

2. Fill out the form and click “Submit”

As shown in the screenshot below select “Temporary Residence Visa,” “TRV – Renewal Visa,” “Visitors Visa Section 11(1),” and the city you’d like to apply in.

Screenshot of online South Africa tourist visa extension

3. Create your account

Follow the steps by providing your email, confirming it, then setting a password.

4. Fill out the fields in the “Particulars of applicant” and “Visa details” tabs

passport info screenshot
more application info screenshot
South Africa passport stamp screenshot
Get the info for the “Visa Details” tab from your passport stamps.
  • Get the entry and expiry dates from the stamps on your passport.
  • For “Visa No.”, use the little number under the date on your entry stamp.
  • You can’t leave the “Details of any subsequent visa issued to you, or the most recent thereof” section blank, so in those fields input the same data as in the preceding “Visa details section.”

5. In the “Overview” tab click “Submit’

You’ll be warned that once you click “Submit” you can no longer change the information.

If you make a mistake, though, it’s not the end of the world. Just log in again (here) and create a new application—i.e. repeat Step 4—under your same account.

6. Add applicants as necessary

If you are traveling with friends or family members, click “Add Applicant” in the summary screen (the one shown under Step 7 below).

You’ll have to repeat Step 4 for each new applicant, but then you can pay and schedule your appointments together.

7. Pay R1,775 per person

Schedule visa screen

You can’t schedule an appointment until you pay and you can pay with a credit card.

Save and print the payment confirmation that you will receive via email. You’ll need it for your appointment.

8. Schedule Your Appointment


As you can see from the screenshot above availability was not an issue in our case.

Important tip: Pick an appointment as early in the day as possible because the later your appointment is, the bigger the likelihood there will be a backlog ahead of you.

9. Save the Appointment Letter and Application forms

Click the “Appointment Letter” and “Download Form and Checklist” links to open and print these documents for your appointment.

10. Print off all 10 items in this checklist

Each person applying to extend their visitor’s permit needs items 2-9 separately. For example, if you paid for two applications at the same time you’ll need two copies of that receipt, one for each person’s application.

  1. Your appointment letter
    • From Step 9. You should get it in your email too. It’s password-protected with your login password from Step 3.
  2. Application form
    • From Step 9 or log in and, in the table you’ll see on your screen, click the “Print” link
  3. Proof of payment of the 1,775 rands each
    • The email receipt you’ll receive if you pay with a credit card.
  4. 3 months of bank statements
    • They just want to see the totals. You don’t need to print all the transactions.
  5. Letter of why you want to extend
    • The VFS staffer we talked to told us to keep it very brief.
    • Here is exactly what we wrote:
      • To Whom It May Concern, We wish to extend our visitors permits in order to remain in South Africa until April 30, 2019 because we would like to have more time to visit more parts of your country while it is summer here and winter where we are from (Canada). Thank you for welcoming us in your amazing country! Best Regards, Kim and Chris
  6. [If applicable to you:] Letter to apologize for not submitting within 30 days of arrival in South Africa
    • Again, keep it short.
    • Here’s exactly what we wrote:
      • We apologize for our delay in submitting our application to renew our Visitors Permit, which we should have submitted before December, in other words within 30 days of our arrival in South Africa on November 1, 2018. During the time we should have extended our permit, we were doing a road trip across the country and by the time we returned to Cape Town, the offices were closed for the holidays. We sincerely apologize for our transgression and request you please be understanding of our situation.
  7. Return flight ticket
    • If you don’t have one yet, buy a ticket on Expedia, save the ticket, then cancel it within 24 hours for a full refund. Visatraveler.com has complete instructions.
  8. Copy of your passport bio page
    • Ensure it doesn’t expire before the date you’re extending to.
  9. Copy of your passport stamp
  10. [NOT OFFICIAL REQUIREMENT, BUT READER REPORTED] Proof of accommodation
    • As of March 24, 2020, Lena reports in the comments that everyone without this was sent away. An email from a friend she’s staying with was enough in her case.

11. Go to your appointment to submit your application

Kim waiting to submit her application to extend her South African travel visa
  • Here are the addresses of the VFS office locations across South Africa
  • You don’t have to be right on time, but don’t be too late. Our 12:45 appointment started about 20 minutes later than scheduled.
  • Count on it to take just over an hour in total to go through the three steps of the appointment:
    1. Quality control: An agent checks your documents are in order
    2. Submission: Another agent officially submits your visitor permit extension application
    3. Biometrics: They take your photo and fingerprints
  • Keep your application receipt in your passport. You’ll need it when you return to pick up your visa (Step 13).

12. Wait

This is the horrible overflow waiting room at the VFS offices.

The VFS agent and website told us to expect to wait 8 to 10 weeks to get the final word on whether our visa extension application would be accepted or not, but in our case it took only 3 weeks.

Over that period, we received seven automated emails from VFS updating us on the status of our applications.

Screenshot of the 7 emails we got from VFS while awaiting word on whether our South Africa visa extension application would be approved.
The emails we got from VFS. As you can see, it only took 3 weeks.
The final email telling us the response to our application from the VFS office was ready for us to come pick up.

Tip

If you’re facing delays or challenges, send a direct message on Twitter or Instagram to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. They’ll respond with an email address of someone who can help you with an update.

Thanks to Jana from the comments, who deals with extending visas for international volunteers, for this tip!

13. Pick up the verdict

Waiting (im-)patiently for our number to be called.

The emails you get don’t tell you whether your application was accepted or not, so the journey to the VFS office to get the verdict is a nervous one.

Don’t make it worse by having to wait forever. Get to the VFS as early as possible to avoid huge lines. Also, make sure you have your receipt from Step 11 or you won’t be allowed upstairs.

In Cape Town, pickups start at 10 a.m., so we came at 9:45 and were fifteenth in line. For some reason, the agents didn’t actually show up until 10:40. From then, we waited another 50 minutes until our number was called, so altogether we waited for 1h45min.

It was worth it, though, because we got the good news that our visa extension application was accepted!

The agent stuck the extension approval to our passports and we were free to leave and enjoy South Africa for a full 180 days.

By the time we left the VFS offices, the waiting list to pick up was at least sixty people deep. Like we said, go early.

Cape Town Tip:

For a pick-me-up, a celebration, or just to kill time, stop by a cafe/restaurant called Brownies and Downies. It’s just around the corner from the VFS offices and one of our picks for the 23 Best Cape Town Restaurants for 23 Unique Occasions.

Important Things to Know

What happens if I don’t bother with all this mess, and overstay my visa?

You’ll be declared an “undesirable person” and banned from returning to South Africa for anywhere from 1 to 5 years.

Can I just do a visa run instead?

There is no official word on whether, or in what circumstances, you can get a fresh 90-day visa by leaving South Africa and returning again.

Here’s what we’ve seen in practice:

Doing an overland visa run to neighboring countries won’t work. Unless you get lucky and get a generous or unobservant immigration agent at the border crossing, you may only get a couple of days to leave South Africa or not be allowed back in at all.

Flying to non-neighboring countries does work. For example, we flew to Rwanda for a week and got a fresh 90 days upon our return to Cape Town airport, no questions asked. If you fly outside of Africa for your visa run you’re just about guaranteed to get a new 90 days. People we know have repeated this every three months for years without issue.

The DHA and VFS say I have to apply for an extension within my first 30 days of arriving in South Africa. What if I apply later?

You can still extend your visa.

In fact, the insider VFS agent we talked to told us that DHA agents who receive applications have a bad habit of extending visas 90 days from the extension date, not the expiry date. So if they receive your application a month before your initial 90-day visa expires, your newly extended visa may expire a month sooner than the 180 days you had hoped for.

Not ideal.

But if you wait until towards the end of your initial 90-day visa to extend, as we’ve done, you face the risk of not getting your verdict until after your initial 90 days have expired. This isn’t an issue so long as your extension is approved. (See next question.) But if it’s rejected you will have overstayed you will need to appeal, which can take 2-to-3 months. If your appeal is rejected or if you need to leave before you hear back from your appeal, you will be banned from returning to South Africa for up to 5 years.

So it’s a trade-off. Do you want to extend early and risk the DHA agent screwing up and not giving you the full 180 days? Or do you want to extend later and risk being rejected and banned?

What if my initial 90-day visa expires while I’m waiting on the response to my application?

According to the VFS staffer, your tourist visa extension application receipt from Step 11 counts as a temporary visa extension.

You can’t leave and re-enter South Africa during this period, so if you want your full 180 days in South Africa but also want to explore neighboring countries, don’t plan on doing any international travel during the 8-10 weeks it can take for the DHA to receive and respond to your tourist visa extension.

What if my 90-day visa expires while I’m waiting on the response to my application and they deny my extension?

You have two choices.

  1. Appeal within 10 days of your visa expiry. It can take 2-3 months to get a verdict on your appeal
  2. Leave and be banned. The DHA says you’ll have 10 days to leave the country without penalty, but that’s not the reality. You’ll be banned from returning for up to 5 years.

The latter happened to an unfortunate fellow reader, T. The DHA stupidly rejected T for having insufficient funds because they misread his bank statements as being in rands, not euros. T couldn’t stay an extra 2-to-3 months to appeal, so he went through all possible lengths to see if he could still leave within 10 days without being banned. He talked to lawyers, the DHA, and the VFS. No luck. He ultimately was banned from returning to South Africa for 5 years.

Click here to read T’s the full story in the comments.

I’m from [whatever country]. How many days can I stay in South Africa without needing to extend my tourist visa?

Some nationalities only get a 30-day tourist visa upon arrival. Check the official DHA site.

You didn’t answer my question. Now what?

Ask us in the comments and we’ll do our best to answer and update the post accordingly. Please look through the comments to see if your question hasn’t been asked already.

What to Do While You’re Waiting…
(Or Once You’re Extended!)

Kim and I only moonlight as pro-bono immigration advisors.

Our real “job” is to share ideas for extraordinary experiences that will hopefully help you escape the ordinary.


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153 thoughts on “How to Extend Your South Africa Tourist Visa in 13 Steps”

  1. Thank you so much for this! Do you know if applying for this jeopardizes your chances of getting another 90 days in the future? For example, if I apply for the extension and get the maximum of 180 days. Then I return to my home country (USA), if I decide to come back to SA this year, will there be an issue getting the 90 day tourist stamp again?

    Reply
    • Good question Cathy. I tried getting an answer because I may want to do the same thing, but couldn’t find an answer. The DHA site is currently down and their phone number doesn’t work either, so I emailed them. If and when they get back to me, I’ll share their answer here.

      Reply
  2. Hi there,

    Thanks so much for your tutorial! 🙂
    Question. Do I understand correctly that it’s recommendable to plan your appointment (step 11) close to the expiry date of your initial 90 days permit, since the receipt you get can be used as a temporary visa until you get an official approval of your extension? In other words, as long as you manage to make an appointment before the expiry date, you’re good?

    Best regards
    Sarah

    Reply
    • Hi Sarah, Yes, correct. You don’t have to push it to the very last day, though. The agent we talked to recommended we do it towards the beginning of our third month. We didn’t ask why not even later, like you say, but maybe pushing it like that puts you at risk of annoying a DHA agent for really flouting their “rule” that you apply for extension within 60 days before expiry. I’m just speculating, though.

      Reply
      • Thanks for taking the time to advise!
        I will do just that. If all fails then the only risk is an overstay of a month, resulting in a one year ban which I will survive I guess.

        Happy travels!
        Sarah

        Reply
  3. Wow, this definitely helps us in applying for an extension!
    Just 2 small questions:
    1. If you apply within 30 days, I assume you don’t need such apology letter?
    2. Is it correct that you will have your passport whilst waiting for 8-10 weeks on the DHA? Or do you have to hand it in during this period?

    Thanks in advance!

    Reply
    • Hi Emily,
      1. Yeah, no need to apologize if you don’t break their rule.
      2. They only take a photocopy of your passport, not the passport itself.
      Hopefully your extension goes as well as ours did. Enjoy SA.

      Reply
  4. Thanks for the information

    I have been waiting for outcome of my wife visa extension application . It’s been exact 2 months from application submitted at VFS. Now we need to leave in a month as my visa is expiring.What options could we exercise for my wife s visa as the same is expired now I.e. 90 days

    Reply
    • Hi Pardeep, They tell you it can take up to 10 weeks before you hear back, so I suspect you’ll hear back on your wife’s application within the next two weeks. You or she have been getting the emails tracking her application’s progress, no? If 10 weeks pass and you don’t hear anything, definitely contact VFS.

      Reply
  5. Hi! I have a problem that is slightly different than the one treated above. Nevertheless, I hope you can help me out! I will be going to South Africa in a few weeks in order to study in Pretoria for one semester. However, I would like to extend my stay in South Africa with two months after I have finished my semester. In other words, I would like to change my study visa into a tourist visa. Do you maybe know what is the best way to handle this? Can I for example go to another non-neighboring country and return after a few days and get a tourist visa? Or should I try to apply for a tourist visa while I am in South Africa under my study visa?
    (Btw, I have a Dutch passport)
    I hope you can help me out!

    Reply
    • Hey Jannie, Sorry, I have no idea. Ask the immigration agent when you get in. They’ll probably know. Who knows, maybe they can extend your visa then and there (…ok probably not, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.) Speaking of ask, if you find the right person at your school in Pretoria I’m sure they know. And when you get the answer, please share it here for future readers in similar situations.

      Reply
  6. Hey guys!

    Thanks a lot for this helpful step-by-step plan, really helpful!

    I was wondering if you do the application on the beginning of your third month and you only get the outcome 7 weeks later, you are good with this temporarily visa extension permit if it get’s approved, but what happens if it is denied. How many days do you have then to still legally leave the country without being banned?

    Thanks again for the info!

    Reply
    • Good question, Gust. When we picked up our extensions at VFS, the guy in front of us got denied. Poor guy. I overheard the VFS agent tell him he had 7 days to leave the country. I’d take 7 days as a best-case scenario, though.

      Reply
  7. Hi there!

    Thank you so much for this helpful guide!

    I’m also travelling from Canada and applying for the visa renewal later than the 30-day window (I decided I wanted to stay longer to explore more of SA quite late). Regarding the apology letter, I was wondering if there were any “unacceptable” (or other acceptable) reasons for the late application that you know of.

    Thanks again for all your help?

    Reply
    • Hey Justine. The DHA says you “must” apply within the 30-day window and doesn’t list any acceptable excuses. Your is a good one though. “Sorry for not applying earlier. I thought I was going elsewhere but there’s so much more to see here in SA that I’m scratching those plans and staying here. Please let me stay.”

      Reply
  8. Hi Guys,

    Quick question, I was in SA for 2,5 weeks in April/May. When I returned in June the guy at Border Control told me I can only stay till July 28, 2019. I didn’t get a new 90 days visa, so I immediately applied for a extension. I only need an extension till August 20, what if I haven’t heard back from VFS before my flight back? Can I just leave and show them the receipt?

    Regards,

    Niels

    Reply
    • Hi Niels, I don’t know the answer. If you want to be sure not to be banned from returning for a year or more, you should probably follow up sometime in early/mid July. Fingers crossed that you’ll get your approval before then, though.

      Reply
  9. Hi Guys,my uncle is visiting South Africa and suddenly got sick and had to go for surgery.how do i apply for extension without him been present

    Reply
    • Hi Claudia. Oof, I’m sorry to hear about your uncle. Terrible. And I’m sorry that I don’t have a good answer for you. All I can suggest is A) Go to the VFS office and ask on his behalf and B) Consider not extending? If your uncle doesn’t extend, he’ll be banned from returning for a while, but if it’s a one-time trip to SA maybe that’s not a big deal. I’d like to think the South African embassy back at his country might even have some leniency given his situation. All the best to you and your uncle.

      Reply
  10. Hi, thanks for the information. I don’t like crapshoots either, so this is encouraging! You may or may not have insight into this question, but I’m preparing to head out to South Africa and hoping to get the extension and be there 6 months. Regarding flights, do I basically have to book my return date for within the original 90 days, even though I hope to extend and would have to change that? I’m worried that if my round trip is outside the bounds of the initial 90 days I might get into trouble at the airport, but I’d love to avoid the fees in changing it.

    Reply
    • Hi Ryann, nobody asked us for departure flights when we arrived in Cape Town. We didn’t have any in any case. We just told them we’re visiting for three months. Worst case scenario, they force you to get a flight and you get something on Expedia that you can cancel for free within 24 hours.

      Reply
  11. Hi guys hope I can get clear advice what can I do
    I’ve been applying my visa xtension last July 03,2019
    and I feel worry if I get my xtension or not my departure is on July 24,2019
    my application is still at DHA as used to track thank you so much

    Reply
    • Hi Ginalyn. If you only applied on July 3, it’s unlikely you’ll hear back by the time you leave on July 24. As we wrote above, we were lucky that it only took three weeks (which would just get it in time for you), but the DHA says it can take 8-10. You could go to VFS to ask what they advise you do in your situation. I fear you won’t get it on time and you’ll be at the mercy of the immigration agent when you leave the country.

      Reply
  12. Thank you for this information. I have been weighing the options between doing this all myself and paying a company to handle it for me. The only thing is, these companies charge 3500 rand per person before the VSF fee! From your experience, how DIY is this process? Thank you 🙂

    Reply
    • Hey Tyler. The process of filling out the forms and preparing the documents is simple, especially if you follow this post. The worst parts are 1) The hassle of having to go to VFS and 2) The uncertainty. If the company you hire can go to VFS for you (which I doubt) or can guarantee you’ll be approved (only slightly less likely) they might be worth it. Or if you’re loaded, why not. Otherwise, do it yourself and spend that R3,500 on something more fun like a celebratory gourmet meal and wine!

      Reply
  13. Hi there, great article thank you! I see on the visitor’s visa section of the VFS SA website you require a radiological report and a medical report: click here.
    Did you need this or did you just need the documents below the heading “Visitors Visa – Renewal”? Thanks!!

    Reply
    • You need the documents below the heading “Visitors Visa – Renewal”

      You dont need medical report for holiday visa extention.

      Reply
  14. Hi, thanks a lot for this helpful information,

    I followed the above steps, i got 3 months holiday visa extention. It took me about 4 weeks.

    I want to know if i can apply another extention

    Thank you so much

    Reply
    • Hi Ahmed, You can spend a max of 180 days per calendar year in SA. Unfortunately like you I’m also not clear on whether you can, for example, stay the last 90 days of one calendar year, then the next 180 days of the following year. Nobody I’ve reached out to has been helpful with this. If you find this out, please let us all know.

      Reply
      • this isnt right. You can enter and leave SA and renew your visa several times in one year. I have friends who have been here years doing that. It is not a case of you can only stay for 180 days per year.

        Reply
        • Robbie’s right. You can fly in and out of non-neighboring countries every 90 days and otherwise stay in South Africa indefinitely. Many foreigners do that here. They get away with it because the immigration system isn’t designed to catch this. If an agent were to check stamps on other pages, they could turn you away for exceeding the 180 day limit.

          For that reason you cannot extend your visa through VFS multiple consecutive times. They’ll see you’re exceeding 180 days and turn you down. You have to fly to get around it.

          Reply
  15. Hi! Thanks for your nice page. The info is very good. Also the comments are very helpful. I was just wondering what would happen if my extension is denied and nevertheless stay in the country for an extra 3 months. Perhaps you have any info regarding this question?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hey Jeff. You’ll be declared an “undesirable person” and banned from returning to South Africa for anywhere from 1 year (if you overstay for 30 days or less) to 5 years (if you overstay for more than 30 days).

      Reply
  16. Hi, according to the VFS website it says you need medical and radiological reports to extend a tourist visa. Did you have to get these?

    Reply
  17. Hey Chris,

    I visited my very good friend who lives in South Africa last year and now I’m planning to return there again.

    This time I want to apply for a 90days tourist visa however, I don’t have a concrete itinerary. We’re very spontaneous but I’m worried it could be an issue and SA embassy wouldn’t approve my 90 days tourist visa.

    Any advice?

    Reply
    • Hey Nikola, Sorry, but my experience is only with extending existing tourism permits, not on getting them, especially since I’m lucky to get one on entry with my Canadian/Swiss citizenship. Best of luck to you.

      Reply
  18. Thank you for this great guide. Really impressed how well its done and all information is well compiled and displayed!
    I also deal with international volunteers and had a similar guide on a word dodument, but yours is much more detailed. Often I find people struggle with the VFA forms. So thanks a lot for the screenshots.
    Will definitely recommend your site.
    Just additional points:
    1 – Change of visa in south Africa is not permitted, you have to go back to your home country to do that (question above to change from study to tourist visa) – only exception is for spousal visa as this was challenged in court.
    2- Tipp if there is any challenges/ delays: send a direct message to the minister of Home affairs on Twitter or Instagram. You will receive a response with an email address that you can check with for an update. They ususally respond quite fast.

    Reply
  19. Hello!

    Many thanks for this guide it is super helpful!
    I’m applying for an extension myself at the moment but I’ve got some concerns:

    I’m staying in SA for a PhD stay at the University of Cape Town for 3 months, so that worked with the Tourist Visa of 90 days. However, due to some miscalculations I have my return flight at day 92 of my stay; hence, me applying for the visa extension since I don’t want to have a ban to enter the country in case I want to come back. My question is if I should state that the purpose of my extension is only for “Tourism” or a “Research stay”? Given that I’ll be leaving only two days after my visa extension and that could seem counterintuitive…

    Reply
    • Hey Marina. Ouch, sorry to hear you have to go through this rigamarole just for 2 days. If you came on a tourist visa, definitely say the purpose of the extension is to tourism. Saying “research” risks raising flags/confusion. All the best with it!

      Reply
  20. Hi guys thank you so much for the information provided on your blog, I m from the democratic Republic of congo, currently in South Africa Johannesburg for holiday purpose I entered South Africa last week, but I was granted 30 days stays only, I wonder if this type of visitor visa can be extended as I would like to stay for another month , any advices will be much appreciated, thanks

    Reply
    • Hey George. Sorry, but I don’t know. I fear that since they can take more than 30 days just to respond, 60 days even, it wouldn’t be a possibility. If you can’t find the answer anywhere online, it’d be worth stopping by VFS offices to ask. Good luck!

      Reply
    • Hi,

      Thanks so much for this blog post. It’s been super helpful and informative. I have a question about the ticket leaving SA. Would I show them a ticket out of the country for the original date in my passport or for my new desired departure date?

      Reply
      • Thank you! We put our address in the United States and they seemed to accept it! Still waiting to hear about whether we get an extension. Btw, we went to the one in Johannesburg, so maybe it depends on which one you go to (Re: Rosalind’s comment about it having to be the address in South Africa).

        Reply
    • Hi, this is a good question and one which we have just faced doing the wrong thing on the application. We put our UK address, and in Port Elizabeth they said we had to log in again and change it to where we were staying in South Africa. It is confusing as the application form just says address, but you’ll notice when you print out the application form that that field is labelled: Address in the Republic (South Africa). So, it’s better to just put where you are staying in SA to save you the hassle and inconvenience of having to do a new application. We were very lucky to get a sympathetic VFS worker, who changed it for us.

      I hope this helps 🙂

      Reply
  21. Hi there chris and kim. Thank you for such an informative page. I have a query. My parents are going to extend their visitors visa on Thursday 30th october. Their visa expires on the 22nd November. Once they get a receipt can they stay until they get a response or must they leave by the 22nd november? They have already changed their return ticket to february 2020….

    Reply
    • Hey Aliya. They can stay. If, for some unfortunate reason, their extension application is denied, they’d then have a certain number of days (sorry but I don’t know how much. Not many) to leave the country. Good luck to you and your parents!

      Reply
      • Hi chris and kim. Am so happy to let you know that my parents’ visa came through. Thank you again for putting such a comprehensive guide to applying for this visa. We would have been lost without it. Please dont ever take this page down. Best wishes to you guys.

        Reply
  22. Hi Chris & Kim!

    First of all; how amazing that you guys made it work with your extension! I hope you both had the loveliest of times in SA <3 Thanks so so much for this post, it's super duper helpful. I do have one question though, been scrolling through the other comments but couldn't find it.

    Was this your first time going to SA? The reason I'm asking is because I've been here for a year in total on a different visa that expired on the 1st of Oct. So I've been in my home country the month of October and I'm back here in SA now on a tourist visa, that I'd like to extend. But I guess they can see that I've been here over the past 12 months 😉 It seems so easy the way you guys write it down but I'm stressing my ass off haha. Thanks so much in advance for your answer, have a great day!

    Reply
    • Thanks T. Yeah, we had such a lovely time in SA that we just came back for more (and likely for another visa extension in a few months… ugh). And yes, it was our first time.
      If you’re in SA already on a 90-day tourist visa, you should be ok since your extension would start in 2020, when you’d be entitled to a new 180 days without any tax or residency issues. I’m no immigration expert, but that’s my take, at least. I hope it helps and works out for you!

      Reply
  23. Thank you so much for your tutorial! After reading so many forums about failed attempts I’m relieved to find some hope in here haha. I wanted to know when exactly did you apply in your last month? Was it like 30 days before your expiry date or like 2 weeks? And was your visa granted from the expiry date or from the day you applied?

    I’m asking because my visa expires on Jan 27th and my flight back home is on April 7th. So ideally I would like to apply on January 7th (that way I’ll be fine even if they give me an extension from the day I applied). But I’m afraid applying 20 days before the expiry date is too late? Since I’ll ignore the 60 days rule anyway does it make a difference if I apply 30 or 20 days before the visa expires?

    Reply
    • Hey Julia. If I remember correctly, it was something like 25 days before our expiry date that we applied for the extension. And they gave the full 90 days from the date of expiry, not the application date.
      For your case, I’d apply whenever convenient after the holidays. 30 vs 20 days shouldn’t make a difference. And the “application date” would be the date your application gets to the DHA agent, not the day you apply to VFS, so at least a couple of weeks after.

      Reply
  24. Hi Chris,
    Did you both receive your final outcome emails at the same time? My husband and I applied together. We got two emails today saying that he would receive his outcome in one business day, but we have received nothing for me.

    Reply
  25. Hey Chris,
    Your report is literally perfect! Thank you. I am here in SA for a week now and also want to renewal my visa for further 90 days. One more question:
    When I pay the application fee, I can chose an appointment right? How is the availability of the appointments? Few days or could it also be a few weeks? Thank you.

    Reply
  26. Hi,
    I need your guidance in my case. I have applied for extension of my BV11.2 and application is currently in DHA. My current visa is expiring on 07Dec2019. I am ready to wait for the outcome of my application.
    My concern is what if i get my visa outcome after my visa has expired and the out come is Visa Rejected. Will i get some days to travel out of South Africa to my home country or i will definitely get the overstay ban.

    Reply
  27. Hello!

    I wanted to thank you for this page – as someone who really struggles with bureaucracy I found it so, so helpful and I’m happy to say that by following these instructions I have been able to extend my visitor’s visa for an extra 90 days!

    The main thing that differed to the above is that I had to provide some proof of an address in South Africa. Although I provided an invoice for accommodation and hoped for the best (the VFS person gave me time to run to the nearest PostNet and get it printed), she initially wanted proof of my host’s ID, utility bank statement, and a written / signed statement that I was staying with her. It’s not mentioned anywhere on the VFS checklist for a visitor’s visas, but it was still something that was seemingly required (at least in my case).

    Another thing: a VFS staff member told me is that, if you are applying for your extension within your first 90 days (the maximum length for me as a UK citizen), you are allowed to leave the country when waiting for the decision as long as you return during that timeframe (i.e. the first 90 days). I think the problem lies in situations where you return once your first visitor’s visa has expired. I would not take this as sacrosanct, but it might be worth double checking with VFS, especially if you plan to visit different countries during your stay but will be returning to SA during the time your first visa is still valid.

    Of course, I’m not too sure if the VFS expect or require you to collect your visa outcome within a specific time period, once they have made a decision.

    One more thing: I found that even though I submitted my application just after the first 30 days, I still received the full additional 90 days I requested (similar to you, it took just over 3 weeks for a decision to be made. That was a huge relief!

    Finally: your advice about getting to the VFS office as early in the day as possible (at least for Cape Town) to collect your result couldn’t be more accurate. Initially, the receptionist in the main lobby (nothing to do with the visa collection itself) wouldn’t let anybody sign in until 10am (the time you’re allowed to begin collections; his colleague decided otherwise). Luckily I was third in the queue at the actual VFS collection point; nobody arrived to begin the process until 30 minutes after the official collection time began, and at that point, the room was completely packed with people standing. I honestly think I would have been there for a few hours had I not turned up at 9.30 or so.

    Anyway, thank you again, so much! Really appreciate the advice given here :)(and the screenshots).

    Reply
    • Our absolute pleasure, Sarah. We’re glad you found these steps helpful and thanks to you for your own research and insights into this messy process. I’m comforted to hear that you got the full 90 days when you applied in your first 30 days. Maybe—hopefully—they’ve addressed that issue of extending too early.

      Very curious about the address. What would people who are moving around the whole time be expected to do?

      And yes, as long as your initial 90 days haven’t expired you can leave and enter the country as much as you’d like. It’s only when your 90 days are up and you’re awaiting your “verdict” can you not leave.

      Thanks again Sarah. Enjoy the summer down here!

      Reply
      • Hello,

        Regarding the accommodation, I’m not entirely sure what people would do if they were traveling around. I was so surprised to be asked for proof of address, any rational questions went out of my head! Although she did want to know if I was staying in a guest house, B&B, AirBnB etc.

        Perhaps her response would have been different if I told her I was traveling around.

        But given it wasn’t on the checklist, I’m half tempted to assume she mistook me for a student (I think proof of address is needed in that circumstance).

        I think it’ll always remain a mystery – but still, super happy it all worked out!

        Reply
  28. Hi, i have a multiple entry visa of South Africa and it’s gonna expire on the 20th of January. And right now, my application for visa extension is on process. It’s gonna be out by around 1st week of January. Would the visa extension application get cancelled once I leave the country? Thank you!

    Reply
  29. Hi!

    I need some advice 🙂 i am here with my partner and son of 3 years old. We want to do the tourist extension of three months. It expires on the 28th of January. Do you recommend to apply for it now? Before the 19th of december? After that they close. Or would you suggest to wait when they open again thats on the 6th of January? But thats gonna be short from the 6th till the 28 of january (expiring date)

    Can I not leave just 1 day before the expiring date 28th or january to Mozambique or any african country and wait for the outcome of the visa? Then I go back to South Africa come in and tell them that I am going to fetch my visa extension: your allowed anyway 7 day back in the country?

    Yes you get creative of this system. Haha please let me know! Lovely regards

    Reply
    • Hi Amanda, If I were in your case, I’d apply now. That way, you’d hopefully hear earlier (doubtful, though because of the holiday) and avoid your crazy… I mean creative!… scheme, haha.

      If I were in your position, I wouldn’t risk leaving the country and trying to return to pick up your verdict (which you don’t know is positive or negative until you go to VFS to pick it up). The agent could deny you entry in SA entirely, for example. But if you’re desperate, I wish you luck. Please let us know how it goes.

      Reply
    • No. All I know is security required that slip for our appointment and wasn’t letting us through without it, so you’ll probably have to make another visit to VFS (or at least extra early the day of the appointment) to talk to the front desk there and see what the solution is. Hopefully it’s not too big of a deal…

      Reply
  30. Hello Chris and Kim
    Congratulations for your work, it’s very useful. Trying to go through all the information I get from websites as well as people in South Africa I’m asking to is a total mess. I’m Canadian too and need to extend my actual visa only for about 10 days. It’s going to expire at the beginning of March and my scheduled flight is in the 3rd week of March. As I don’t need an extra 3 months, I plan to apply now. My question is about the collection. Does it have to be at the same office as where I apply? I’m going to apply in Nelspruit, but could be far from there at time of collection.
    Thank you.

    Reply
    • Hello Nicole. Hmm that’s a good question that I don’t know the answer to, sorry. If you get the answer, please let us know so we can share with others. Have you considered not extending at all? If you don’t plan on returning to South Africa within a year, it may be the best option.

      Reply
      • I will find and let you know for sure. As I usually come here at least 2 times a year, I prefer to be as legal as possible. But not being to come back for a year, if it’s the worst case scenario, could be an opportunity to visit other places.

        Reply
  31. Hi again – based on this statement …”Kim and I only moonlight as pro-bono immigration advisors.

    Our real “job” is to share ideas for extraordinary experiences that will hopefully help you escape the ordinary. COME ON LET ME INTRODUCE YOU TO THE GOBSMACKING extraodinary experiences you have missed…:-)

    Reply
  32. Hi, really great post!
    I was wondering if you have any knowledge about how long you can stay in SA with dual passports. (read in one comment that you have dual Canadian/swiss citizenship).
    Lets say you visit & recieve a visa extension with your passport from one country, so you stay 180 days. Then later you return on your other passport as a visitor within the same year. Do you think immigration will pick up that it’s the same person re-entering the country?

    Reply
    • Hi Paula. Funny enough, I just had a conversation with a friend about the same thing recently because I might be trying the same thing after our trip to Rwanda at the end of the month. I don’t know what the answer is, sorry, but I’d be surprised if the immigration system’s sophisticated enough to catch that type of thing.

      Reply
  33. Hi Guys, that’s for the tutorial. I am from Zambia and should be entitled to a 90 day visitors visa according to DHAs website. However, at the border I was only given a 30 day visitors visa and they refused to grant me the 90 days. Do I still have to apply for an extension and pay the fee or can I get the additional 60 days some other way?

    Thanks for the help in advance.

    Ryan

    Reply
  34. Hi Chris

    Thank you for such an informative and step by step article explaining the process. Very grateful for this. You mentioned that we have to provide bank statements for the last 3 months and they want to see the totals. Do you know what the minimum amount they want to see in the bank? For instance is it £20 per day, £30 per day etc?

    I am currently in South Africa and my visa expires on the 23rd February.

    Thank you.

    Reply
  35. Hi Chris,
    It was a nice and good step-by-step write up. In my previous experience with the VFS (I am also a Canadian), the biggest challenge was making an appointment in time. I was in Pretoria and trying to make an appointment before the visa expire, however they were all full and I was not able to make the appointment to submit the applications before the visa expires. At the end, I have to return back to Canada.

    Wondering if you have any tips about this kind of situation (about fully booked appointment)? Or they have improve the situation better as with guarantee appointment slot?

    Reply
    • Hi Frankie. Sorry to hear you’re having this problem. Our experience in Cape Town was the opposite: tons of appointments. Did you go to the VFS offices or call them to ask what you can do? Having to fly back to Canada seems extreme. Even in the worst case that there’s truly no way to get an appointment, it’d be cheaper to go to a country like Rwanda (which we just did) or even to another city in SA where appointments are available, no?

      Reply
  36. Thank you Kim & Chris! So awesome!! So helpful!! wow what a fantastic, inspirational and truly helpful page you have!! Love it! Next I am checking out your Namibia trip tips!! Great stuff!
    Continue spreading the magic and enjoying this beautiful world.
    Best wishes and loads of thanks!
    Victoria

    Reply
    • Thanks Victoria. Kim and I appreciate the kind words. Seriously. And I’m impressed by your high spirits, especially after scrolling through such a boring post about frustrating visa extensions. Sound like you’d make an excellent travel companion!

      Reply
  37. Hi Chris!

    I am within my first 30 days of arrival in SA and wanted to go to Home Affairs in Cape Town tomorrow to extend my Visitor’s Visa for another 90 days. Now I found your page (great advice btw. 🙂 and read about the online application via VFS. My question is, could I also go to Home Affairs directly or do I need another service like VFS for example. Do they (VFS) charge anything for their service? I was in touch with a company who specialises in Visa inquiries – they do all the work but they are very expensive. I heard that the waiting times at Home Affairs CT are enormous, so any alternative solution makes great sense. Thanks so much, Katrin

    Reply
    • Hi Katrin. As far as I understand, the DHA has hired VFS for all the visa processes apart from the final approval, so there you have to go through them. Whatever VFS earns is part of the R1,775 and I don’t think that’s avoidable.

      Reply
      • Thank you Chris. R 1,775 is totally acceptable. The other company I was in touch with would have charged three times as much.

        Reply
    • How do I get to a payment page? I’ve followed your advise to the letter, but I only get as far as a representation of my application and a clickable number that leads to no more helpful info. I have less than a month now, and it’s really worrying me. I could use a company that does this, but it would cost me another 3,500Rand or so. Help please!

      Reply
      • Hi Ian. It was a while ago that I went through the process and I didn’t have any issues like you, so I’m afraid I might not be able to help you. Do you not see the “Payment” button like under step 7 above? Maybe double check you’ve filled out everything and ask a friend to give it a second look? I hope you manage to sort it out.

        Reply
  38. thank you so much for this brilliant guide! i wish i had found it earlier! could you give me a tip about handling overstay appeals? is it advisable to get an immigration lawyer to do it (and if so, do you have a recommendation for a cpt lawyer=) or do you think one can go the DIY route? (same problem here: have to leave the country and my renewal still in pretoria) overstay would be less than 30 days so i hope i will not be banned for more than a year from this beautiful country

    Reply
    • Hey Cat. Sorry, we can’t help you there as we’ve fortunately avoided that situation. I really hope they’ll be reasonable in your situation. Please let us know if you come across any info we can share with others here.

      Reply
  39. Thank you so much for this – I have been stressing myself out but this has helped me a lot.

    Me and my family are emigrating to SA in December hopefully, my husband is south African so i have applied for my permanent residence permit. This can take up to 18 months, so whilst im in SA i will apply for an extension whilst im waiting for my permit to come through- if it hasn’t already .

    My question is, as im moving there i wont have any return flight info – as i will be living there . will this cause me trouble when applying for extension, as it an temporary solution whilst waiting for my permit. ?

    Thank you,
    Laura

    Reply
    • Hi Laura. How exciting for you to be working towards permanent residency in South Africa. As I’ve never been in your situation before, I can’t say what to do. Try without a return flight and if they stubbornly request it, buy and cancel one. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that, though. All the best with getting your residency sorted out soon!

      Reply
  40. Hi everybody!

    I just wanted to let you know that it is a bit tricky to do it like this. I read the article and I thought yessss let’s do it! So I applied for my extension quite close to my expiration date. I picked up the result last week and it was rejected.

    They weren’t paying attention apparently and mistook my bankstatements in Euro’s and thought it was Rands. Obviously €5000 is a very different amount than R5000, so it was denied on grounds of ‘insufficient financial means’.

    Since my previous visa expired as I was waiting, I thought I had 10 days to leave the country and it’d be fine. I just want to let everybody know; this is not true! They don’t look at your proof of application, they don’t look at your letter, all they look at when you leave the country is the stamp in your passport that’ll say expired. This means that as I’ll leave the country, I’ll be banned for 5 years no matter what.

    I did a lot of research and even Home Affairs told me I’d have 10 days after my rejection to leave without any problems, so I didn’t expect this at all! Just want to make everyone aware so it won’t happen to anybody else, since being banned for 5 years is not ideal for a lot of people I guess 😉

    Also, if anybody has any advise for me on how to go about this or knows anyone who might be able to help, it’s more than welcome, since I don’t see any solution anymore

    All the best!

    Reply
    • Oh man, I’m so sorry for you, T. What a ridiculous situation. Thanks for sharing.

      Have you left South Africa already and gotten the ban? Or is there still hope for reason?

      Reply
      • T was gracious enough to detail is ordeal with me via email. Here’s his cautionary tale:

        So, before extending I obviously did some research, where pretty much every single person I spoke to told me; if it gets rejected you have 10 days to leave without being banned.

        As I picked up my results at Home Affairs on Longstreet and it was rejected, I went to ask the lady there instantly to see what my options were. She said:

        1. Go into appeal within 10 days, but it might take 2/3 months for them to get back to you in which you can’t leave the country, or
        2. Leave the country within 10 days; go to immigration at the airport, ask for a written statement that you did apply and you’ll be able to leave without being banned.

        So I was like, sure! And the next morning I drove to the airport full of hope that it’d be sorted. As I arrived they led me towards the immigration office, where I spoke to an immigration officer who told me that it wasn’t true, and my only option was to appeal. I couldn’t believe it since I was told otherwise at Home Affairs, so I asked to speak to his supervisor. He led me to his supervisor, who told me exactly the same; you can not leave the country, also not within 10 days. If you leave, you will definitely get banned. They will not look at your proof of application, they will not look at any letters, they’ll see the date on the stamp in your passport which is expired and you’ll be banned 100% guaranteed. There is no other option than the appeal.

        After that I spoke to several lawyers and immigration offices, and they all told me the same; appeal within 10 days or a 5 year ban upon departure. I still didn’t want to give up though. I got a contact number from a guy at home affairs, and he told me to go to the immigration office on 56 barrack street and I could simply ask for a letter called an ‘order to leave’. That way I could leave without getting the ban. Since it was someone working at home affairs I had my hopes up again, yay! So I went there, again, hoping () and after a 3 hour wait they told me that they indeed USED to write these letters, but they no longer do it (since like months). Also, that there was nowhere else I could get such letter and; that the only way really was to appeal.

        Because of the Corona Virus happening right now, I didn’t have the choice of going into appeal since the Dutch government all told us to come home asap. Besides that, my mom is old and I really want to be close to her in case anything was to go wrong. So I went to the airport, within the 10 days, with my proof of application and everything (even though I knew it wouldn’t help) and at passport control they indeed only look at the stamp in your passport, and I was declared undesirable and got a 5 year ban on my name. I explained the whole situation, I explained I had to go home because of the corona virus, I explained it was initially a mistake at home affairs to reject my application and that I applied before it expired, etc etc; none of it mattered.

        So yeah, now I’m in The Netherlands. Very happy to be with my mom, after all; the fact that my family is healthy is obviously way bigger than all of this. I arrived Friday afternoon, and will call lawyers tomorrow to see how to get this ban lifted off of my name. There must be a way! I’m not giving up, I love South Africa way too much. Even though their visa regulations are a nightmare

        I hope you can use this information. I really feel like I tried everything I could, but maybe I was wrong. Rules and regulations change all the time, which makes it very confusing.

        Reply
  41. Just wanting to drop a quick huge thanks to you for this extremely useful and thorough blog post that has helped me massively with my extension applications in this crazy Coronavirus times (and when I did not get any useful info from the named institutions). Thanks and enjoy your well-earned 90 extra days!

    Reply
  42. hey there:) that helped me sooo much – thanks!
    Just submitted my documents and the waiting begins.

    A small information you might want to add to the blog post:
    I (and everyone else I met today at the office) was also asked to show a provement of where I am staying the rest of the time in South Africa (my room mate simply dropped me an e-mail with a confirmation and I was able to print it out at site). I could not find any official information that you have to bring it and it is not on their provided checklist as well but everyone not having the information ready was sent away.

    Reply
    • Hey Lena. Thanks for the heads up! I wonder if this is specifically because of the lockdown? In any case, I’ve updated the checklist accordingly.

      Reply
      • I was asked for this proof as well both in June of 2019 and February of 2020.

        I used a copy of my host’s electric bill but was told that hotel/Airbnb reservations would also suffice.

        Reply
    • Hi Lena!

      I’m going through the process now, and was wondering what the email from your roommate said? I’m subletting a place, and just want to make sure the person I’m subletting from includes the right information in their email!

      Reply
  43. Hi guys, I see you were planning to be in SA until 29 April and I wondered if that is still the case. I am visiting SA from New Zealand and my visitor visa expires on 18 May. I’ve applied for an extension but my first appointment with VFS is 17 April (the day after lockdown is supposed to finish – we’ll see…). I’m worried with all the coronavirus craziness the 17 April appointment might be cancelled (eg if the lockdown gets extended) or that VFS might take longer than normal to process things.

    Currently I can’t fly back to NZ before my visa expires anyway because there are no flights at all before end April, and the only ones in May are through Singapore which doesn’t currently allow any transits. I figure I’m not going to get into trouble with immigration if it isn’t physically possible for me to leave before my visa expires.

    But that may change if some flights to NZ start back up, or if Singapore starts allowing transit passengers again. And my concern is really that it will be possible for me to fly back to NZ but that I wouldn’t have heard back about my visa extension by then.
    So, I thought I would get in touch in case you guys are also waiting for VFS appointments at the moment and have any glimmers of hope or ideas about how the visa extension process might work in the time of coronavirus?!

    Reply
    • Hi Katy, We’re in pretty much the same situation as you and don’t know the answer. All we know is that the Home Affairs Minister has said, “We don’t expect people to apply for extension during the lockdown, we will understand, and we will deal with the matter after 21 days.” Now 35 days, I suppose.

      Until the lockdown’s over, we can’t do anything. We’ll see what happens after. They won’t be able to handle the post-lockdown rush and will have to do something. I imagine (hope) they’ll be reasonable. And I think if we act in good fait—i.e. make attempts to extend our visas when possible, follow whatever guidance they give, and not blatantly use the chaos as an excuse to skate by and stay without extending—we shouldn’t get banned. But you never know…

      Reply
      • This has some useful information. It doesn’t quite apply to me since my visa expires after the lockdown ends, but might cover you guys. At the very least I’m taking it as a positive sign that the govt is inclined to be reasonable towards those whose visas have been affected by Covid-19!

        Reply
        • Hi Katy, hope you’re getting on okay. Did VFS cancel your appointment or have you scheduled it for a future date? My visa expires on 24 May. I have just booked an appointment in Johannesburg to realise that under level 4, the centres are still not open. I am pretty sure that the government will act in good faith towards those affected by Covid-19, even if the visa expires beyond ‘lockdown’ (I think level 4 is surely still some level of lockdown?) Sitting tight here in the meantime!

          Reply
    • Hi there,

      I’m currently stuck in South Africa, and my visa process is stuck at the now locked down DHA.

      Some important information can be found at the DHA website. Here are some highlights:

      “EXPIRY OF VISAS
      Holders of temporary residence visas which expired from mid February 2020, who did not renew their visas before the lockdown, will not be declared illegal or prohibited persons.
      Any person whose visa expired before or during the lockdown will not be arrested or detained for holding an expired visa.
      Those who opt to return to their countries of origin or residence after the lockdown instead of renewing their visas will not be declared undesirable upon departure.”

      “DEPARTURE OF FOREIGN NATIONALS
      During the lockdown, except for cases relating to expatriation initiated by another state, all foreign nationals who are currently in South Africa may not depart.”

      http://www.dha.gov.za/index.php/statements-speeches/1336-temporary-measures-to-deal-with-immigration-issues-during-the-national-lockdown

      Reply
      • Hey Joe. Big thanks for this and your other two comments! I’ve added this info to the top of this post to make sure worried people in similar situations to ours see it. Cheers!

        Reply
  44. Just a fact for anyone getting married in South Africa.

    You can transition from a tourist visa to a spousal visa without having to leave the country. Maybe this will help someone at some point in the future 🙂

    Also, the 180 day limit renews at the start of a new year. I spent 180 days in South Africa in 2019 and was able to return to South Africa on January 1st of 2020.

    Reply
    • Hi joe, this is what I am actually trying to do , but one of the requirements is to get police clearances from every country you have lived in for 12 months or longer since you were 18 (I have 5) – and not sure how it would be possible to get these documents during this time as governments are in lock-down and have other priorities. I wonder if they would be relaxing this requirement too.

      Reply
    • Hey Joe,
      Did you use an attorney to help with the process? Can you lend a recommendation?. This is my next step in visa applications so I can definitely use your help. Thanks!

      Reply
  45. Hi Kim & Chris, thanks for this detailed info. I submitted my application and now am prepping for the appointment right after the end of the lockdown. In the invitation letter, it talks about prohibited items… It looks like nothing except application docs is allowed? No phone? Wallet?? Would be great if you guys have any insights… Thank you!

    (From the invitation letter)
    Due to security reasons, the following items will not be permitted inside the Visa Facilitation Centre, nor stored in the premises:

    – All battery-operated or electronic gadgets such as cameras, audio / video cassettes,
    compact discs, MP3’s, floppies, laptops, or portable music players;
    – All bags such as travel bags, back packs, briefcases, suitcases, leather, jute or cloth bags and zip folders. Only a plastic bag containing your documents necessary for your
    application would be permitted;
    – Sealed envelopes or packages;
    – Any inflammable item such as matchboxes / lighters / fuel, etc.
    – Any sharp objects such as scissors, pen knives…
    – Any weapon or weapon like objects or explosive material of any kind.

    The list provided above is not finite. Other items may be prohibited based on security staff discretion.
    There is no facility at the Visa & Permit Facilitation Centre to store prohibited items.

    Reply
    • Hi Maki, When we last went to VFS, security guards checked our bags, but we were allowed to bring them in along with our phones. So unless they’ve clamped down significantly in recent months, you needn’t worry about going to your appointment with nothing but a folder and I.D.

      Reply
      • Thank you, Chris, for your response. Hope you two are well. I have an appointment this Wednesday, I hope all work well… I am little concerned about what’s written on the top page their website, “Non-South Africans with a legal residency permit in South Africa can apply for a visa or permit at these centres,” but I hope they are also accepting all the applications… Thank you again!! – Maki

        Reply
        • Hi Maki. Are you sure VFS is open? According to their homepage, “VFS does not fall under the current Level 4 restrictions and should continue to consult our website for further updates as to when we will be able to accept applications.”

          Reply
        • Hello everyone,

          I had an appointment scheduled for today, 05/05 at 08.00am at the Durban office, I was there not long ago to find out that the VFS offices are still closed.
          I really have no idea when they are going to reopen and what to do to extend my visa before the expiration.

          Reply
          • Hi Lorenzo,
            I am in a similar position, as I have an appointment booked in the Johannesburg office today.
            So are VFS still allowing you to book appointments through their website even though the actual office isn’t open? What is the point of this? Were you able to re-schedule an appointment or did you have to start the whole process again? I’ve just tried to call the number on their website to confirm if the Johannesburg office was open today but nobody answered the call. Appreciate any guidance anyone can give.
            Thanks!

          • Hi Eric, did you manage to have your visa appointment in Johannesburg yesterday? I have mine booked for next week on the 13th. Jess

  46. Hey! Thanks for such a great read. Really
    helpful-especially with updated information regarding Covid.
    I have a couple questions;
    How much is a safe amount to have in your bank account? I have dollars (coming from the US) and not sure if it will enough. I heard you should have three months worth and if that’s the case I do- but nervous the first month is a couple hundred- and now it’s a couple thousand- will this affect their decision, and do you recommend I write about it in my letter? Also, with the letter what’s the main topic I should speak about? I basically wrote how I am from NY where the state was hit the hardest and it was safer to remain in RSA. However, my long term boyfriend is South African and I heard to not mention a relationship. Is that true? Any suggestions?
    I’m currently on an expired tourist visa extension. Came into the country in Oct and was supposed to leave April 22 (during the lockdown). My meetings may 6th. Assuming they’re back open.
    Any suggestions help! I’m so nervous to get banned.

    Reply
    • Also, in your article it says I need a copy of my application form but I can’t go back and see a copy. There’s tabs that say “particular..”, “visa details”, “overview page”, “print” but they’re grayed out and can’t go back to the application. Any ideas?

      Reply
      • Hey Michelle. I wish I could help you with your questions, but honestly I don’t know. If the site has changed since we last extended our visas so it doesn’t match the screenshots, I won’t be able to find out until we apply again (which will likely be soon). On how much to have in your bank account, all I know from readers’ input is that R5,000 is not enough (poor Tyler). I imagine if you truly have enough cash to cover your next couple months, whatever that is should be enough. All the best!

        Reply
  47. Hey Chris. Thanks so much for all the help here. I reviewed your step-by-step instructions again after submitting payment and documents on the VFS site, only to realize that I only paid the VFS fee of R1350 and not the actual Visa fee. Despite only paying the R1350, the site still allows me to schedule an appointment. I’m concerned that I’ll be turned away, or worse, my application is rejected for this error. However, I can’t find a viable way to pay the remainder of the fee that I owe.

    Do you know if there’s an option to pay the remainder at the Home Affairs office? I’ve realized this is mostly my error, but any helpful advice is appreciated! Thanks!

    Reply
  48. Hi Michael, hi everyone, I think it is normal. When we got our visa renewed in 2017 we have paid the VFS fee online to be able to schedule an appointment and then, once there, we have paid the visa fee.
    So I believe you will be able to paid at the VFS office.

    But the question is: on the VFS website is clearly reported that last day for applications submission was 25th March and to consult them again to understand and know when they can work again the applications. For this reason, I have not submitted the application even if my Visa will expire in few days. The note of the minister seems to be quite clear: person which choice to leave the country without renew the visa after the lockdown will not be declared undesirable. I hope to have done the right choice not submitting, Chris, what do you think about?

    Bye
    Paolo

    Reply
  49. Hi Chris and everyone!

    Does anyone know whether VFS offices will be open on level 3 of the lockdown? I’ve been trying to make an appointment online for the Cape Town office, and strangely, there are only slots available in May (when the offices are definitely closed!) and none in June. I’d really like to start the extension process before my visa expires in early June, so I’m quite worried! I’ve tried contacting them on twitter and just get redirected to their website, which hasn’t updated since March.

    Also, is it clear what levels of the lockdown the notice from Home Affairs refers to? E.g. if your visa expires during level 3, are you still ok? Or are they referring only to Level 5 (“full” lockdown)?

    Reply
    • Rita, I pretty much have the exact same questions as you do… so hopefully we can all get clarity on this soon! My partner lives here so getting a 5 year ban from SA would be devastating. My tourist visa expires mid-June.

      Reply
      • I am glad to hear I’m not the only one in this position – this is so stressful! I’m hoping to get in touch with VFS on Monday when their office might re-open, but I don’t have high hopes.

        Reply

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