Plans are being tabled that will in the future see foreigners from all over Africa able to travel across the Republic’s borders without the need for a visa.
A visa free passport for fellow Africans have been tabled in a white paper with the Department of Home Affairs. The proposal is that fellow African Union (AU) nationals be spared having to obtain a visa to travel into the country and across its borders.
The shared passport forms part of the African Union ‘Agenda 2063’ plan which highlighted the importance of free movement by Africans in Africa in order to stimulate integration, and strengthen trade.
What the passport will entail
• African citizens will be allowed to enter the Republic without a visa but certain conditions will apply
• Visas should be required only where objective risks are identified – such as:
1. Overstaying and deportation of foreign nationals (quantify the number per year which triggers consideration of visa implementation);
2. Security risks (organised crime; terrorism; political instability);
3. Civil registration risks (documents frequently obtained fraudulently; countries unable /unwilling to identify their nationals when requested); and
4. Countries with a high number of nationals who abuse the asylum system.
According to the white paper, key elements of a visa-free regime would be:
• Visa-free entry of nationals for short visits up to 90 days;
• Recognition of visas for third parties (univisa concept) on condition that security measures are put in place by participating SADC member states. This should include the returns agreements for third country nationals;
• Agreed standards on immigration and border management;
• Agreed standards on civil registration;
• Returns agreement; and
• Sophisticated, real -time risk management, information and intelligence sharing.
Ease of travel
The following will be put into place for people who travel often for business, sport, education etc:
• Standardising and expanding long-term multiple-entry visas for frequent travellers, business people, and academics;
• Identifying additional proxies for easy approval, e.g. degree from South African university, university degree generally, family members in South Africa, etc.;
• Developing a list of countries whose visa adjudication system and visas are recognised and trusted by South Africa;
• and use of technology to establish trusted traveller schemes.