South African visa process \’complicated\’

South African visa process ‘complicated’


Last updated 21:06, December 15 2016

Diplomatic spat could complicate sporting relations between the two countries.

After a diplomatic “tit-for-tat” Kiwis will now need to organise a South African visa before entering the country.

The 20-year visa-free travel arrangement ended after New Zealand started requiring visas from South Africans earlier in 2016.

The new policy will be in place after January 16, 2017, allowing time for those travelling in the festive season. The visas will cost $90.

But it isn’t just holidaymakers who will be hit: many South Africans have settled in New Zealand and replaced their South African citizenship with New Zealand citizenship.

These people have a right to permanent residency in the country and will gain a permanent visa, but any children born in New Zealand would need to apply for a relative visa.

It would also make bringing relatives over to visit New Zealand much more complex.

Ian Mellett, a South African lawyer who has lived in NZ for 20 years, was heading to South Africa on Sunday to join his family currently on holiday there.

“It’s just going to make life a lot more complicated.”

Mellett had read in a South African newspaper that the decision from the South African government was a “tit-for-tat” move.

He understood why Immigration New Zealand decided to put in place a visa for South African citizens – the (passport issues etc) were “probably happening”.

But that’s just a reality, he said.

“I think it’s a real shame, because South Africans are one of the largest expatriate communities in New Zealand … and it’s now made it significantly more difficult for South Africans to come out and visit families,” he said.

“Sometimes there are too many knee jerk reactions to situations in these occasions. And now you’ve got two sets of governments that have made it infinitely more difficult.”

Mellett thought that there would some members of the large South African expatriate community in New Zealand who would have a “black book” in their hands as opposed to the “green one”, referring to the colour of the passports.

While it’s an inconvenience for those travelling to South Africa, another “big issue” will likely result.

The South African High Commission is ill-equipped to deal with the visa process, with offline phones and email addresses, he said.

“How are they actually going to cope with this potential flood of these applications? I mean look at the sporting side, there\’s a range of things that go on between these two countries,” he said.

“We’ll have to wait and see, but to me it doesn’t really make a lot of sense.”

A South African woman who had given up her citizenship to gain New Zealand citizenship said was told at the time visa-free travel and her residence would let her come back to the country regularly.

“It’s going to put a lot of hassle into what should be hassle-free trips,” she said.

The woman, who didn’t want to be named, returned to South Africa every year or so, but said this move made those trips a lot less likely.

“If I was going to India I would understand it. But I\’m going to South Africa!”

In an earlier version of this story there was speculation as to whether South Africans who lost their citizenship would have to apply for a visa. They in fact automatically receive a permanent visa. There was also a quote that indicated South Africans needed to reapply for dual citizenship every five years. This is not the case.

– Stuff

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