With the lockdown now on day 19 we continue to receive questions around how the DHA will deal with foreigners whose visas expired during the lock down. Will they be considered illegal? will they be declared undesirable on departure? The DHA has moved to clarify these issues in a statement and below are the highlights.
Expiry of Visas.
Holders of visas that expired from mid-February and who did not renew their visas before the lock down, will not be considered illegal foreigners or be declared prohibited persons. This means that no detentions or deportations will be enforced for persons holding a visa that expired during this period.
A further and welcome concession is that any person who opts to leave the country when the lockdown is lifted will not be declared undesirable upon departure.
Foreigners remaining will be allowed to apply for their visas immediately after the lockdown is lifted and this will be done without the need to apply for a letter of good cause. It is important to note that you are expected to immediately lodge the application and cannot continue to reside in the republic without taking the necessary steps to apply for the visa. Whilst the statement does not provide how a reasonable period is determined , one can look at the existing provisions of the Good Cause Directives and determine that to be 90 days from the lifting of the lock down.
Submitted Applications but pending at lockdown.
Another welcome concession is that any person who has an application for a business , study or work visa, that was lodged before the lockdown but remains pending , will be allowed to work, study or run their businesses once the lock down is lifted. Again, this is a temporary measure and specific to this class of foreigners. For everyone else the default provisions as contained in section 10(8) of the Immigration Act which allow for a continued stay only will apply.
Asylum Seekers and Lesotho Dispensation permit holders.
The same concessions have been extended to Asylum seekers whose permits expired during the lock down period and will be given 30 calendar days to regularise their status once the lock down is lifted.
Basotho nationals holding LSP permits have been given an extension until the 15th of June 2020 to allow them to renew their applications.
Strategies Migration remains open during the period of lock down; however we are all working remotely and are available on email, cell phone and WhatsApp. We are conduction online consultations, and which can be booked on our website or by following the link below.
Stay Home and Stay Safe