Browsing "Citizenship"

What to do if you’re pulled over in a foreign country

What to do if you’re pulled over in a foreign country
2018-04-19 – Wheels 24
Whether it is for work or leisure, visiting a foreign country often literally calls for taking the road less travelled.
Many tourist destinations have adequate public transport and apps such as Uber and Lyft, have made getting from A to B that much easier abroad. Sometimes, travellers want a greater sense of freedom and will turn to rental cars to explore foreign cities.
Nothing ruins a business trip or a leisurely holiday like an unpleasant run-in with the law.
Before hopping behind the wheel in a new land it’s important to familiarise yourself with road rules and traffic laws of the country you’re visiting.
Get an International Driving Permit
Essentially, an international driving permit (IDP) allows you to drive (provided you have an SA driver’s licence) in the foreign country you have applied for.
It does not, however, allow you to drive anywhere in the world.
You still need your South African licence and will have to present both items if you are pulled over by authorities in a foreign country. Most, but not all, rental companies will ask for your IDP.
Advocate Jackie Nagtegaal, Law For All’s Managing Director, said: “A local driver’s licence might not be valid in all foreign territories even with an IDP.
“For example, your visa status could be a factor: Some countries might allow you to drive for up to 30 days, after which you will have to apply for a local licence.”
Do your homework: Research foreign traffic laws
This should be a crucial part of your planning but just in case it’s slipped your mind, add it to your to-do list before leaving SA; Not only do you have to be aware of basic traffic laws there are perhaps customs specific to the area you’re travelling to.
This goes above and beyond which side of the road to drive on and how road signs might differ; it also encompasses obtaining special rental insurance and conducting research on what you might need to have with you in the vehicle; spare tyre, traffic cone or even an extra pair of prescription spectacles.
Getting pulled over in a foreign country
Whether you’ve violated a traffic law or stopped as part of a routine roadblock, being pulled over in a foreign country can be particularly stressful.
Nagtegaal: “It’s always a good idea to stay in your vehicle, much like you would in South Africa. Some countries do allow motorists to exit their vehicles and approach the officers, but this is very uncommon.”
When an officer approaches your car, open the window, keep your hands on the steering wheel and await instruction.
Make sure you have the following on hand:
• Your valid South African driver’s licence.
• International Driving Permit (IDP) is required in that country.
• Vehicle registration document.
• Proof of car insurance.
• Passport and visa.
• Any relevant documents from the car rental company.
Remember, it is usually within your right to ask the traffic/police officer for his or her credentials. What’s more, it is recommended to have some tool (a book or an app) that can help with translation, as there may be a language barrier.
Dealing with traffic fines
It is best to handle traffic violations as quickly and efficiently as possible. Even if you’ve been fined for something “negligible”, deal with it immediately.
Some countries offer the option to “pay on the spot”, meaning you can take care of it (ie paying a fine) with the officer.
You can’t ignore or hide from the ticket; you could be stopped in the customs queue at the airport when trying to depart the country.
Nagtegaal said: “Depending on the country’s laws, even traffic fines can be regarded as a criminal matter, and you could find yourself dealing with a foreign criminal justice system.”

Illegals flock to home affairs

Illegals flock to home affairs
April 13, 2018 – Lowvelder

In South Africa, all roads lead to Mpumalanga for illegal immigrants. The Lowveld in particular has become the hot spot where mainly Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Somalis find their way to the local home affairs department to acquire illegal identification documents and South African passports.
According to law enforcers and intelligence sources, the well-established Pakistani underground networks of the terrorist organisation Sipah-e-Sahaba, a radical body regarded in Pakistan as a Sunni supremacist group at war with the minority Shia Muslim grouping in the country, facilitates the safe passage for new arrivals in South Africa.
“It is an extremely well-oiled network,” Lowvelder was told. “From the facilitators assisting all the new arrivals, to the network of lawyers on call 24 hours when arrests take place, to the ‘right’ state prosecutors to ‘handle’ such cases.”

On arrival they are picked up and taken to safe houses in Mbombela or Komatipoort, Lowvelder was told. There are also safe houses in Naas, on the road between Komatipoort and the Swaziland border.
A well-placed source described how the Managa road becomes a beehive of activity between 17:30 to 19:30 as taxis and other means of transport do business with illegal immigrants where they wait in the bushes for the scheduled pick-up of new border crossers to the safe houses in Naas. He added that many of them are former Somali soldiers.
The identities of two local Pakistanis who act as the go-between for the migrants and corrupt immigration officials, are known to the newspaper. In Mbombela the “facilitator” operates from the Nedbank Centre and in Komatipoort near the Total Garage.

The identities of the immigration officials are also known. One of them has been on holiday overseas on more than occasion.
It is believed that since a corrupt network of home affairs officials was exposed a few years ago, the focus turned to Mpumalanga as a safe haven to buy illegal documents.
Lowvelder approached Doris Chiloane, home affairs spokesman for comment on the allegations. None were forthcoming at the time of going to press.

High court ruling could unleash flood of new credit applications

High court ruling could unleash flood of new credit applications
Apr 10 2018 – Fin24

Johannesburg – The removal of a key lending criterium by a court last month is likely to open a flood of credit applications as consumers come under pressure from the tight economic environment, credit bureau TransUnion said on Monday.
In a case brought by leading retailers Truworths, Foschini and Mr Price, the Western Cape High Court last month ruled credit applicants would no longer be required to provide proof of income when applying for credit, as previously required by the National Credit Act.
TransUnion CEO Lee Naik stressed that the ruling does not scrap the entire National Credit Act regulation, which makes provision for responsible lending.
“The entire regulation has not been scrapped, and the onus is still on the lenders to assess the affordability of consumers,” he said.
The retailers brought the case against the minister of trade and industry and the National Credit Regulator, arguing that some of the requirements of the National Credit Act used to assess affordability, such as three months’ bank statements and payslips, discriminated against certain sections of society, particularly the unbanked and the self-employed.
“The judgment will potentially open up the market to the new entrants who were previously prevented by the regulations. As a result, lenders are likely to use that opportunity as they grow their business,” said Naik.
He cautioned the system could be open to abuse by over-indebted consumers, who could take up more debt to boost disposable income.
“We are a highly indebted society – almost 73% of our personal income goes towards servicing debt, while the real income growth is just at about 2%,” he said.
South African consumers are experiencing a tough economic climate, following the increase this month from 14% to 15% in value-added tax. Household income has also come under pressure from petrol price hikes.
First National Bank head of retail credit Hannalie Crous said the bank has not changed its requirements for credit extension following the court ruling.
“The bank has noted the judgment by the Western Cape High Court and will continue to monitor the developments on this matter,” she said.
The National Credit Regulator says it will consider appealing the judgment.

UK Ancestral Visa: 3 Common mistakes SA applicants make

UK Ancestral Visa: 3 Common mistakes SA applicants make
2018-04-10 19:00 – News 24
Cape Town – It seems more than ever that South African’s are wanting to explore and work in other countries. There has been an increase in popularity of South Africans heading to the United Kingdom – with the help of their ancestral visa.
Many South Africans hold ancestral roots with the United Kingdom – owing to a thriving expat community of about 200 00 South Africans living in the UK. If you’re wanting to join these up and coming individuals there are a number of things to consider.
Overall, the process of applying for an ancestral visa can appear daunting as you want to ensure that it is successful. While some might be concerned about the implications Brexit – since the decision to leave the EU has caused much uncertainty for immigrants within the UK – it does not directly impact South Africans in the UK or those locals wanting to visit on an ancestral visa.
Here’s what necessary and crucial information you need to know about – to make this process easier and to ensure a smooth application overall.
3 Common mistakes ancestral visa applicants make

SA’s British High Commissioner spokesperson, Isabel Potgieter has stressed that there are three common mistakes applicants make during or prior to initiating the process.
Firstly, it is important to understand and read the guidelines thoroughly and to fully understand the process and its requirements, advises Potgieter.
The situation of applying for a visa is not as straightforward as many would hope due to individual specific circumstances or conditions.
Secondly, applicants are strongly encouraged to understand their ancestral heritage/lineage to the countries needed specifically for the application to be considered. This means that one must check whether the grandparents was born in a country that is seen as applicable when applying for an ancestral visa to the UK. In many instances applicants are unaware of whether their lineage applies and how it does.
A third common mistake made is not obtaining the proper birth certificate information for the relevant grandparent – meaning it must be intact and valid.
It is crucial to adhere to the requirements and to thoroughly read the instructions – to ensure that your application has a strong chance of being accepted, states Potgieter.
Key information
Before you go ahead and book your ticket to whisk you away to the UK there are a few important factors you need to know. It is important that you are able to tick yes with these three requirements before you begin the process and check off on the complete list of eligibility requirements to get a UK ancestral visa.
Apply if:
1. Are a commonwealth citizen – you can find out if this is applicable to you here.
2. Able to prove that one of your grandparents was born in the UK
3. If you are able and planning on working in the UK
Application cost: R8 444.45
There is a cost for the healthcare surcharge – this cost is either paid online or at premium service centre. You can calculate this online here.
When will I know?
Applications take three weeks to process.
Duration of validity:
Visa valid for 5 years.
When to apply:
You can apply three months before you travel.
Basic DOs and DONT’s
You can: Work, study and bring family members
You can’t: Switch to a UK visa if you are in the UK on another type of visa and you cannot get public funds.
There is a full list of eligibility that must be read and is a strict requirement of the application process. Even though you might have ticked some of the requirements mentioned above there is a more detailed list of requirements –
Are you eligible?
Here are the strict requirements:
1. 17 years +
2. Enough money to support yourself or dependents without public funding.
3. Able and plan on working in the UK
The question of ancestry is often misunderstood as each individual has different circumstances that cater to themselves. However, there are rigid rules as to whether you can be considered for an ancestral visa on the basis of your ancestry.
It is very important to take note of this and ensure that your ancestry is applicable.
Ancestral requirements
In order for one’s ancestry to apply you must prove that one of your grandparents were born under the following circumstances –
1. Have documented proof of birth in the UK, Isle of Man or Channel Islands – this proof must be produced in birth certificate form.
2. Have documented proof that they were born in the Republic of Ireland before 1922.
3. In the circumstances that they were on a British registered ship or aircraft
You can also claim for ancestry if either you or your parents have –
1. Been adopted
2. Were born within or outside of marriage in the UK.
It is important to know that ancestry cannot be applicable if applied through via step-parents or grandparents.
Documentation required
General application documents:
1. Proof of passport – it must be currently valid and have a single blank page for the visa.
2. Bank statements – proof of financial support.
3. Tuberculosis test results – test costs must be paid for independently and is applicable if you are entering the UK for 6 months +.
South Africans are considered on the list to conduct a tuberculosis test as a part of their application process. There are designated testing centres chosen by the British Commission across SA. It is a process that must be adhered to.
When taking the Tuberculosis test ensure that you take the following with you:
– Two passport photos
– Passport
– Proof of payment for Tuberculosis test
Ancestral documents:
1. Your full birth certificate.
2. Marriage certificate or civil partnership certificate if your partner wants to join you.
3. Full birth certificates of the parent or grandparent that your ancestry claim is based on.
4. Marriage certificates of either your parents or grandparents.
5. Legal adoption papers if you or your parents were adopted.
There is a more detailed list that one can review
The application process is carried out online.
Part of the application requires that biometric information – a photograph and finger prints be taken at the nearest visa application centre. They are located across South Africa and are known as The TSL contact centre in SA.
When applying online – follow this process:
1. Fill the application form out in English
2. Pay the visa fee – online
3. Print out the form
4. Ensure you have all the necessary documentation required
5. Visit the nearest Visa application centre.
There is an online site for applying for UK visas, Visa4UK.
Residency and visa extensions
The ancestral visa lasts 5 years and one can apply for residence once your ancestral visa validity has ended. This proves to benefit many South Africans because they can easily assume permanent residence in the UK upon the ending of their ancestral visa.
There is also the option to extend the ancestral visa for another 5 years and this application process can be carried out individually via post or through a premium service provider. A form can be downloaded
Cost: £993 (about R16 923 via post and £1 583 (about R26 979 at R1) in person and through a premium service provider.
– postal applications are provided with a decision in 8 weeks
– in person applications will find out the same day if they have been successful

#AfriTravel: How Africa’s visa-free passport aims to boost tourism and trade

#AfriTravel: How Africa’s visa-free passport aims to boost tourism and trade
2018-04-13– News24
Town – South Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have recently signed a visa waiver agreement for official and diplomatic passport holders.
Not only is this a step towards enhancing relations between South Africa and the DRC, but it also facilitates easy movement of officials between the two countries.
Although this only applies to the countries’ officials for now, it certainly is one step closer to achieving the much-anticipated “visa-free” Africa passport that the continent hopes will foster better relations and boost trade and economies
Striving towards attaining the visa-free Africa passport is one of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 main aims. According to Agenda 2063, one of its aspirations is to achieve “An integrated continent, politically united, based on the ideals of Pan Africanism and the vision of Africa’s Renaissance.”
However, in its International Migration White Paper, the South African Department of Home Affairs states, “Our obligations are to serve our people first; the people of the region and the member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) second; the people of Africa third; and the rest of the world last.”
Department of Home Affairs media spokesperson, David Hlabane, told Traveller24 that while the “Passport for Africa” is not yet in effect “all regions will start working towards that process” to reach the goal of a visa-free Africa passport.
He adds that while this process has begun, working “towards the integration from regional level” the process “needs to happen progressively, one step at a time.”
‘Each African region is working on breaking travel barriers’
So far, each African region is working on breaking travel barriers between countries within the region, in an attempt to slowly make travelling smoother across borders. Thereafter, Hlabane explains, the regions will work together to implement visa-free travel across the continent.
Hlabane told Traveller24 that in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, countries “have to work together as members towards reaching that goal” explaining that “each member state needs to be ready for that movement”.
“With regards to diplomatic passports, all members [in the SADC region] have a waiver – except Angola and Madagascar – with South Africa,” he says.
“All countries need to be ready before we take his great leap,” he says, adding that South Africa, the region and the continent will benefit from the passport.
How will this affect South Africa?
Hlabane told Traveller24 that “in the interest of trade and development” the passport will facilitate free movement within the continent.
Facilitating trade – thereby encouraging and growing business opportunities – as well as boosting tourism within the continent are some of the ways the passport will benefit South Africa and other African countries, according to Hlabane.
“By attracting tourists we will address economic challenges, with more people flowing [into the country], offering better chances for growth,” he adds.
He says that members of SADC are also working together to “address issues of security” for those outside the region.
Here is the full list of African countries we can enter without visas:
Most SADC countries are accessible to us without a visa, as long as we’re going there for vacation. Any form of work – even volunteering – requires some form of a visa, so make 100% sure what the rules are beforehand.
Benin, Botswana, Gabon, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Saint Helena, Senegal, Seychelles, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
And then a few where we get a visa on arrival:
Cape Verde, Comores, Egypt, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Tanzania, Tongo, Tunisia and Uganda.

Warning: Your passport ‘expires’ three months before it expires!

Warning: Your passport ‘expires’ three months before it expires!
2018-04-12 News 24
Receiving your first passport is an exciting milestone! It means you’re finally set to add globetrotting explorer to your list of achievements.
But there are a number of finicky things about passports, any newbie traveller wouldn’t know about – for instance certain countries’ entry rules mean that your passport actually expires well before the date stipulated in your green mamba, as the South African passport is affectionately called.
Travelling has the ability to change our perception and gives us an adrenaline rush. It provides you with a thrill and excitement of jetting off into the unknown – but before we dive into the many opportunities our ‘green mamba’ can take us to, it’s important to be in the know about your South African passport application too.
For instance, did you know that in 2014 South Africa decided to do away with the temporary passports – meaning that unless it is an emergency you have to keep your expiring date in check.
With the country moving forward through digitisation and the introduction of the eHomeAffairs system, you can now apply online for ID’s and passports – a virtual and far more efficient experience!
And turn-around times have improved too, passports processing is done in 10 weeks, with home affairs updating you with sms notifications when ready for collection.
You can also apply for your passport through your nearest state-affiliated bank such as Absa – so the idea of standing in long lines are now,more often than not, a thing of the past.
Have you checked the passport validity window period for your destination?
Remarkably, South Africa allows for a narrow 30-day passport validity window. And while visas are granted on the nature of the visit, things can get tricky for a foreign visitor planning around a 90-day visa-on-arrival. If they stick to this 30-day window validity their passport would expire two months before their stay – so always double-check!
We’re slightly boggled by this window period and have contacted the department of home affairs to confirm but have yet to receive a response.
In the interim, if you’ve got your proposed trip diarised but you haven’t checked your passport validity – best you confirm that you have the required validity window period.
South Africans have the privilege of being granted visa-free access or visa on arrival to 92 countries
To help you along here are the basics on passport validity and visas upon entry for the top five.
1. Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is a really interesting destination for South Africans right now.
Visa required for South Africans?: 30 day e-visa.
Sri Lanka’s Passport validity period: 6 months from date of arrival.

2. Indonesia
Indonesia is known for its lush vegetation and exotic flavors, South Africans flock to Indonesia, with Bali being a hot favorite.
Visa required for South Africans?: 30 – day visa upon arrival, proof of return ticket, accommodation and sufficient funds.
Indonesia’s Passport validity period: 6 + months from date of arrival.
3. The Maldives
The Maldives can certainly be an affordable luxury holiday destination with an ultimate selection of beaches.
Visa required for South Africans?: No-cost 30 day visa upon arrival.
The Maldives passport validity period: Passport valid at time of entry.
4. Morocco
Morocco is known for its cascading architecture and eastern flavors. South Africans are visa- free unless the stay extends 90 days, requiring a visa application.
Visa required for South Africans?: None – over the 90 day period requires a visa application.
Morocco Passport validity period: Passport must be valid at time of entry.

5. Seychelles
Seychelles is visa- free for South Africans and requires passport validity for the duration of stay. It is the ideal place to disconnect and unwind.
Visa required for South Africans: Visitors permit upon arrival – proof of return ticket, accommodation and sufficient funds.
Syechelles’ passport validity period: Passport must be valid for duration of stay.

Visas 101: Everything you need to know about applying for a tourist visa

Visas 101: Everything you need to know about applying for a tourist visa
2018-04-11 – Tourism Update

As a South African with only a Green Mumba passport, you quickly realise that to visit many international destinations you have to go through the admin and documentation nightmare of applying for a visa.
Don’t worry, here’s your How To, basic guide to keep it simple and get your stared on your visa application.
And if it all gets too much, check out our map below of the many visa free countries us Saffa’s can enjoy. As of 1 April 20178 South African citizens had visa-free or visa on arrival access to 99 countries and territories.
Visa applications general requirements
Different consulates require varying documents, so please view the documents need for your application with the consulate you will be applying to and rather be over-prepared than underprepared. Examples of documents usually required are:
Passports & Visa photos
You will need your passport and a copy of it for your visa application. Check the current validity of your passport and ensure that the expiry date is at least 3 months after your return travel date and has a minimum of 2 or 3 blank pages left, for stamps upon your arrival and departure.
For your visa application passport photos, you will generally need two photos. Check the specific destination size and image requirements – eg: ears showing, not smiling, 50mm x 50mm etc.
Proof of funds & bookings
You need to prove, in most visa applications, that you have sufficient funds to support yourself while travelling. The exact monetary requirements differ from one country to another but you will in all cases need to supply 3 months’ worth of bank certified and stamped statements showing your available funds. Skip the bank queue though and get these certified statements direct. Capitec Banking App offers this feature to all clients and allows you to email your certified statements.
On most visa applications you will also have to indicate that you have accommodation and flights booked and some form of itinerary for your trip. The only consulate who does not require this is the USA, who suggests ‘applicants should obtain a visa before purchasing tickets or making irrevocable travel plans.’
You need to provide a copy of your return airfare tickets and also a confirmation of the address of your accommodation. There are two different ways to prove this depending on your accommodation type:
• If you are staying at the home or residence of a friend / family member, they need to send a letter with their address and their ID or Passport number and signature. It can be typed or hand written.
• If you are staying at a hotel, B&B etc, you can fill in the details in the section provided in the tourist visa form.
Other documents usually required
• Signed and completed tourist visa application form – these can be found on each consulates website for download on online submission.
• A letter from your employer stating that you are taking leave and that you will be returning to work after you return from your holiday.
• Letter from your health insurance company/ travel insurance documentation
These are just a few documents required and there may be more. Please read the visa requirements on your travel destinations applicable consulate website.

When should I apply for a visa?
There is no fixed answer to this particular question due to different time-frame policies of the embassies/consulates. However, it is recommended that you apply for a visa around six weeks to 60 days prior to your departure. Processing a visa can take anywhere from 3 days up to 21 days, depending on a variety of factors, so plan ahead and get your visa done in time. Applicants are free to apply up to 90 days prior to their date of travel.
Where do I apply?
This again varies from consulate to consulate. Most allow you to make the application online and then book your visa application appointment at your nearest consulate or affiliated visa processing company. For your appointment you will be required to submit biometric information (photographs and fingerprints). Your application will then be sent to the relevant embassy/consulate for processing.
Shengen visas can be the trickiest for some travellers as this visa covers 26 European countries. The rule of thumb is if you are visiting several Schengen Areas, you need to apply to the consulate of the member state where you first enter; or the member state where you will be staying the longest. For example: If you are travelling to Holland for 7 days and then France for 15 days, you would need to apply at the French Consulate for your Schengen Visa. However, if you were staying in Holland for 7 days and then going to France for 7 days, you would apply where you first landed and stayed, in this case the Dutch Consulate.
Non-refundable application fees
Keep in mind that if your visa application is unsuccessful, you won’t be refunded your application fee, so read the requirements carefully and submit everything needed the first time.
Don’t let a complicated list of documents prevent you from getting your visa. Keep it simple and work though the requirement.