• 1. I am in South Africa and my visa has expired. What should I do?

    Updated on 01.06.2022

    1a. My visa has expired. I applied for a visa renewal in 2021 but my renewal is still pending.

    The Department of Home Affairs granted a temporary concession to extend the validity of visas which expired on or before 31 December 2021 to 31 March 2022 where there is a pending visa application and the visa-holder is in South Africa.

    DHA also granted an automatic renewal of a visa of a foreign national to 30 June 2022 where the foreign national was waiting for an outcome on a visa renewal application that was submitted in South Africa before 31 December 2021.

    Please read the DHA Circular on the Automatic Renewal of Visas for the full text.

  • 2. My study visa is expiring. How do I apply for a renewal of my visa?

    Updated on 21.01.2022

    For applications from outside of South Africa, kindly check the relevant South African Embassy/Mission and/or Visa Facilitation Centre website for updates on their individual operations.

    ** If a country’s border is closed, the visa issuing authorities will likely suspend operations. Governments will issue lockdown regulations applicable for their country which could result in limited services. This may impact visa issuing centres, Embassies and Consulates who may be required to suspend their operations.

    Applications from inside of South Africa should be made via the Visa Facilitation Center (VFS) for the visa to be issued by the Department of Home Affairs (DoHA).

    The visa services offered by DHA are aligned to the regulations of the Disaster Management Act, implemented in response to the covid-19 global pandemic and adjusted according for each lockdown level and the corresponding restrictions. During Level 2-4 The Chief Directorate: Permits was operating at 50% capacity. DHA continues to experience significant service delivery delays. This is owing to Covid infections resulting in weekly closures of their offices and processing centres. The turnaround time for visa applications is currently much longer than the typical 12-week timeline.

    For a letter of undertaking in support of a visa application, please complete sections A, B and C of the UCT Letter request webform. Please also review the Study visa renewal guidelines.

    Students who have applied for a visa renewal via VFS can submit a pre-registration request via Student Administration Self-Service. Upload a copy of your expired visa along with a copy of the VFS receipt.

  • 3. I received an offer to study. How do I receive a letter of undertaking for a study visa?

    Updated on 15.07.2021

    The letter of undertaking is system generated and is released after the conditional or firm offer is sent from the faculty office to which you applied for a study place. We advise that you check your email (including the spam/junk folder) for the study offer and letter of undertaking: The letter of undertaking will be sent from and the subject header is Letter of Undertaking for Visa.

    The body of the email communication guides you with information on the visa application, tuition fees, medical aid, housing, and relevant term dates. The letter of undertaking will be attached to this email and will be coded UCTB84.pdf

  • 4. I am an asylum seeker/I have refugee status. My permit has expired. What should I do?

    Updated on 01.06.2022

    As of 15 April 2021, the Asylum Seeker and Refugee division at the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) was issuing refugee and asylum seeker permits via an online extension service. Qualified asylum seekers and refugees were expected to renew their expired visas and statuses online.

    Please read the frequently asked questions on the DHA website for more information.

    UCT cannot accept expired documents for pre-registration. Please ensure you have renewed your permit and submit original certified copies (certified by a commissioner of oaths or notary public) for immigration clearance.

  • 5. I am on a work visa and registered for part-time studies. I want to change to a study visa. What is the process?

    Updated on 15.07.2021

    An application for change of visa status (i.e. a different visa category) is not allowed. To apply for a different visa category, you will be required to travel back home and submit your visa application from your home country.

  • 6. I have been studying at a different university in South Africa but have received an offer from UCT and want to transfer. I need to change my visa so that it is endorsed for study at UCT. What do I do?

    Updated on 15.07.2021

    You must apply for a change of status (same visa type, change of institution) so your study visa is endorsed for study at UCT. You cannot pre-register and register without a study visa endorsed for UCT.

  • 7. I am applying for a visa in the United States of America. Where do I apply?

    Updated on 15.07.2021

    The Department of International Relations and Cooperation has decided to close several Missions and Consular General offices in the Midwest regions of the United States. All consular, civic and immigration services for the 14 states of the Midwest will be processed by the South African Embassy in Washington DC.

    Detailed information regarding operations and applications can be reviewed at


The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) in South Africa have issued guidelines for managing expectations around travel during this time of global pandemic.  Specifically, they note that

  • DIRCO and missions abroad must respect the sovereignty of the country from which the South African mission is operating; and
  • DIRCO and missions abroad cannot enforce the SA Constitution or other Acts of Parliament and South African Court orders abroad.

Some countries have placed South Africa on their travel advisory red list because of the new covid-19 variant (Omicron). It is important to note that South African Embassies and Consulates abroad are subject to regulations enforced by the Government of the countries in which they are located. If you intend on applying for a visa for South Africa at an Embassy or Consulate abroad, we strongly advise that you regularly monitor the websites of the South African Missions abroad to stay updated on the latest information.

  • 8. I have been accepted to study at UCT. How do I obtain a visa to travel to South Africa?

    Updated on 12.01.2022

    You are eligible to apply for a study visa if the South African Consular Service in your country is currently operational. 

    If you travel to South Africa, you will be expected to adhere to the health and safety protocols laid down by DIRCO and provided for in the South African Disaster Management Act (act no. 57 of 2002). This specifies measures all citizens and residents in South Africa (or those using South African consular services) must take to combat and prevent the spread of the covid-19 virus.

    We advise that you monitor the webpage or contact the South African embassy in your country for guidance on visa and travel requirements. A list of South African Missions Abroad is available here: In addition, we advise that you monitor the Travel Bans.Org to determine which countries are open for travel.

  • 9. What are the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) health and safety protocols for travel to South Africa?

    Updated on 01.06.2022

    As of 22 March 2022, travellers will be permitted entry to South Africa (through a land border or other port of entry) where they are able to provide

    1. a certificate of full vaccination; or
    2. a valid certificate of a negative COVID-19 test, recognised by the World Health Organisation, which was obtained not more than 72 hours before the date of travel.

    Please read the DIRCO Health and Safety Travel Protocols and adjustments to travel restrictions (as of 22 March 2022) for more information.

  • 10. I am an international UCT student/researcher who is currently abroad. How do I renew my visa?

    Updated on 22.12.2021

    Regularly check Embassy websites for updates on operations. Once services resume, you will need to apply for a new visa from the South Africa Mission or Embassy in the country where you are currently residing.

    Refer to question 2 above if the visa has expired and for visa renewal guidelines.

    A list of South African missions abroad is available here:

    ** Travel bans and lock down regulations instituted in any country is a Government matter and for the safety of citizens. UCT is not able to advocate when a Government institutes travel bans or lock down restrictions.


  • 11. My visa has expired. I will be returning to South Africa. What should I do?

    Updated on 01/06/2022

    You must apply for a new visa, endorsed for UCT.

    You will need supporting documentation from your faculty/department. The support letter must:

    • be from the faculty/department
    • dated, on a faculty/department letterhead supporting the visa application
    • include the degree/programme information
    • the expected start and end date
    • signed and stamped

    For a Letter of Undertaking from UCT in support of a visa application, please complete sections A, B and C of the Letter request webform.

  • 12. My visa application is pending. I need to travel to South Africa. What should I do?

    Updated on 01/06/2022

    12a. I applied to renew my visa early in 2021. I am still waiting on an outcome from the application. I have received an offer of study for the 2022 academic year but am not able to apply to renew the same type of visa as I am waiting on the outcome for my current visa application. How should I proceed?

    As you have a pending visa application, you hold legal status to be in the Republic of South Africa. The Department of Home Affairs has set aside the requirement to submit the application to renew 60 days before the expiry of the visa.

    Please note: this is a temporary measure due to the backlog in adjudicating applications. When you receive the new visa from the Department of Home Affairs you can then submit a renewal application.

    12b. I applied to renew my visa early in 2021. I recently received my renewed visa but I have since received an offer of study for the 2022 academic year. I am outside the 60-day Immigration Act renewal period. How should I proceed?

    As you have a pending visa application, you hold legal status to be in South Africa. The Department of Home Affairs has set aside the requirement to submit the application to renew a visa 60 days before the expiry of the visa. An application to renew or extend a visa can be submitted after you receive the outcome of the pending application.

    ** This is only applicable to those who have been waiting on pending application. With the new visa in hand, you can depart and apply in your home country, if you choose to do so.

    12c. My visa has expired and I have an application pending for a visa renewal. I need to depart South Africa due to an emergency back home. What should I do?

    It is a very challenging time. It is highly unlikely that we would be able to request the visa be expedited as the Department of Home Affairs does not have the capacity to do so. Because your visa has expired, when you departed you may have been declared undesirable. That is in line with the Immigration Act of South Africa. An undesirable status would mean that you are banned from re-entering South Africa for a specific period of time, and this may have negative impacts on your continued academic study at UCT.

  • 13. What is an undesirable status?

    Updated on 22/12/2021

    According to South African Immigration Act, a foreigner may, therefore, be declared undesirable by the Director-General of Home Affairs if he or she has overstayed his or her South Africa visa. Regulation 27(3) stipulates that a person who overstays after the expiry of his or her visa will be declared as 'undesirable'.

  • 14. I have a Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) and it expires on 31/12/2021. What must I do?

    Updated on 22/12/2021

    The South African Cabinet of Ministers recently announced the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) permit which will expire on 31/12/2021 and will not be renewed. However, they have allowed a grace period for ZEP holders to regularise their residency by applying for other types of visa.

    Permit holders have until 31 December 2022 to apply for a regular visa which supports their ongoing residence in South Africa. For UCT students who will be continuing their studies in 2023 and beyond, this means you must have a valid study visa, endorsed for study at UCT, and covering the duration of your programme of study.

    SA Government Regulations and Guidelines - Coronavirus COVID-19

    Western Cape Government Corona Virus dashboard