South Africa’s new e-Visa system is live – Everything you need to know

South Africa has deployed the first phase of its new e-Visa system, which makes it easier for tourists to enter the country.

The pilot programme of the e-Visa system has been deployed at the OR Tambo and Lanseria airports.

The Department of Home Affairs said the e-Visa system is quick and has been designed to be as user-friendly as possible, with the entire online application process taking around 20 minutes.

“The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has started with the testing and piloting of the electronic visa application system – e-Visa,” the Department of Home Affairs said in a statement.

“The decision to introduce e-Visa was informed by observable benefits of this system. It is reliable, client-friendly and convenient for visa applicants, airlines, trading partners and Home Affairs officials.”

Current iteration and future plans

The department said that once the e-Visa system is fully rolled out, all visitors will be able to apply online for visas.

This will reduce administrative burdens, especially those involved with receiving applications at visa offices and printing the required stickers or returning passports to applicants.

Applicants will also be able to avoid the queues and relatively slow processing time of Home Affairs’ physical visa offices.

“Currently, the department is testing the new system with Kenya,” the department said. “As part of the pilot, a team of DHA immigration and IT officials visited Kenya.”

“This team is scheduled to return to Kenya next week, on 09 December 2019.”

“The first Kenyan tourist who applied for the visitors’ visa on the new e-Visa system arrived yesterday afternoon and more are expected this week as part of the pilot,” the department added.

The department added that it was continuously monitoring the pilot programme to ensure that the user experience is improved.

If all goes well, China, India, and Nigeria will be included in the pilot programme next year, which will run until March 2020.

E-gates

Department of Home Affairs spokesperson Siya Qoza previously told BusinessTech that Home Affairs was also working with Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) to trial e-gates at the country’s airports.

These electronic gates would make it much easier for South Africans to navigate immigration clearance.

Once these are available, South African passport holders travelling internationally will proceed to e-gates for self-service immigration clearance where the following would be performed:

  • Biometric verification
  • Passport authenticity and validity checks
  • Checks against the BMCS risk engine
  • The BMCS will record the movements of persons on the system after all system checks have been successfully performed

The department said these electronic gates would be introduced in a phased approach.

“The broad objective of the project is the facilitation of movement of low-risk travellers through a self-service solution, hence freeing capacity for the assessment of high-risk categories by an immigration officer,” the department said.

“In line with the risk-based approach to managing migration, the first phase will focus on South African passport holders (excluding minors).”

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South Africa’s new e-Visa system is live – Everything you need to know