Communication to international students about the blanket visa extension

3 Nov 2016 - 15:45


Dear International Student

This communication from the IAPO team is to inform you about an immigration directive issued by the Minister of Home Affairs in relation to the blanket extension to study visas for international students.

The extension issued by the Minister of Home Affairs has very specific limitations and it is very important that you understand these clearly.

In short, the blanket extension applies to all students who have valid study visas with an end date on or before 31 December 2016.  These visas are extended to 31 March 2017.

However, there are strict limitations:

  1. The extension applies to
    • postgraduate and undergraduate full degree students whose visas were granted to the end of 2016 because they were expected to graduate in 2016; and to
    • Semester Study Abroad students (SSA) who were expected to leave UCT after the second semester of 2016.

      The extension will allow you to write deferred exams; attend a mini-semester and/or await an offer of a place for further study (only some of these may apply to you).  If you need to stay longer (for example, if you receive an offer to study further), you must apply for an extension to your study visa at least 60 days before this extension expires.

      The extension does not apply to students who expected to study in 2017 as part of their current degree (e.g. an undergraduate in 1st or 2nd year).
  2. The extension only applies to visas which expire on or before 31 December 2016.If your visa expires later than this (even if its 2 January 2017), the extension does not apply to you.If you overstay, you may be declared undesirable and not allowed to re-enter South Africa for up to 5 years.
  3. The blanket extension allows you to remain in South Africa up to 31 March 2017 and leave South Africa without being declared undesirable.It does not provide the right to re-enter South Africa during the 3 month extension, i.e. if you need to travel during that period, you must apply for an extension to your study visa in order to return to South Africa if you are from a ‘non-visa exempt’ country. A list of visa exempt countries for visits to South Africa of less than 30 or 90 days can be found here: Alternatively, you can follow the advice below.
  4. The last date for departure from South Africa in terms of this blanket extension is 31 March 2017.
  5. You must, at all times, carry a copy of the letter from the Minister of Home Affairs granting the blanket extension; plus a letter from UCT confirming your status as a student.Both these letters are available from IAPO (see below for more detail).

Given these limitations, our advice to those of you for whom the blanket extension does not apply; or for whom the blanket extension creates further problems, is:

  1. If you wish / need to travel before returning to UCT to write exams / attend the mini-semester in January 2017; we recommend that you either return to South Africa before 31st December (so that you return whilst your current visa is still valid); or if you are from a non-visa exempt country, you apply for a visitor’s visa for South Africa from your home country (once you re-enter South Africa on a visitor’s visa, you will be able to remain in the country until 31 March 2017 on the blanket extension to your study visa). However, be aware that the process of re-applying for a visa will result in additional cost to yourself; or may take too long to process and may therefore delay your return to South Africa. In addition you will be required to submit all the regular visa application requirements including proof of accommodation and a police clearance certificate from South Africa. We therefore strongly recommend that you do not travel during the extension period.
  2. If the blanket extension does not apply to you and you still need to apply for an extension to your study visa, or you are awaiting for an appointment with VFS, we recommend that you include a letter, written by yourself, in which you explain clearly why you have not been able to apply for the visa at least 60 days before it expires; and include a request to consider your application positively.

Students who require the letters confirming the extension of the visa must visit IAPO, bringing their student card and passport.  IAPO will check these documents against a list of students for whom the blanket extension is definitely applicable.  If the student’s name is on the list, they will be able to receive both letters immediately.  Should the student’s name not be on the list, IAPO will need to check PeopleSoft and possibly get further information from the relevant faculty office to confirm the status of the student before issuing the letters.  In this case, the student will need to return to collect the letters 48 hours later.

For any further questions you may have about this visa extension, please contact Nosizwe Mgudlwa.  For any other assistance on SSA students, contact Lara Dunwell; for assistance with full-degree students, contact Fiona Grant or Carol Ojwang.


*Most Semester Study Abroad students will not need to take advantage of this provision.