A new electronic visa system will be introduced as a test system in South Africa in just a few weeks’ time. The Department of Home Affairs said that the new system will make travelling to South Africa easier for tourists and will improve the department’s knowledge of who has entered the Republic. The system will also allow the department to determine how long a visitor is staying.
Speaking to BusinessTech, Department of Home Affairs spokesperson Siya Qoza said that the pilot program aims to test the resilience of the system, with the department already holding successful trials in a controlled environment.
“The pilot will be conducted with Kenya first at the OR Tambo and Lanseria airports,” he said. “At the end of the month, we will evaluate the project and look at which other countries to expand the e-visa system to.”
Moneyweb spoke to Minister of Home Affairs Aaron Motsaledi, “We approached the president on Friday last week. We are going to pilot it from November 1 in Kenya, between us and Kenya. That means for that whole month we will be dealing with Kenya and no other country, because we want to see how it works, where the problems are, what solutions they want, how difficult those problems are, is it beneficial, and so on.
“Once we have finished, then we’ll see those countries and well start rolling, bit by bit. But, for now, when we pilot we are going to start with Kenya.”
Qoza said that the system is quick and has been designed to be as user-friendly as possible saying and e-visa application through this system would take around 20 minutes. Applicants can also save their application and complete it at another time if, for instance, additional documents or information is required.
E-gates and self-service immigration
The Department of Home Affairs is also working with the Airports Company to install e-gates. A holder of an e-visa would be able to scan their visa moving through customs much faster – avoiding long ques.
At e-gates a travelers’ biometric information can be verified, their passport’s authenticity and validity test can be performed and a traveler can be checked against the BMCS risk engine – a system that flags travelers with criminal records, a history of over staying visas etc.
It is though that the new system will finally be phased in starting April 2020.
“The broad objective of the project is the facilitation of movement of low-risk travelers through a self-service solution, hence freeing capacity for the assessment of high-risk categories by an immigration officer,” the department told BusinessTech.
“In line with the risk-based approach to managing migration, the first phase will focus on South African passport holders (excluding minors).”
Good for SA’s economy
“Changes to our visa regime are designed to make it easier for visitors to experience our country and contribute to our economy through their purchase of goods and services,” said President Cyril Ramaphosa earlier this month when looked into the new system.
The President added that he believed that this new “world-class” system would ensure economic growth, attracting “millions” of people into South Africa.
“Countries that benefit the most from increased visitor flows and revenue are countries that have liberal visa regimes that nevertheless ensure that they are not exposed to undue risk. We want to be such a country,” Ramaphosa said.
Source: BusinessTech, Moneyweb and Daily Maverick