Question: How can you obtain a visa to stay in South Africa longer than the three months visitor’s visa?
Answer: Apply for said visa from your home country.
Sometime last year, South Africa changed the rules about how foreigners can apply for a visa or change an existing visa, and no one noticed. I didn’t. Chas didn’t. None of the people he works with did.
Our plan involved applying for the three-year research visa from right here in Cape Town, after coming on three-month visitors’ visas. And that was ok, all until last year sometime. South Africa decided that anyone who wanted to “upgrade” their current visa has to do so from their own country. Waaahhhhhhh South Africa why don’t you want us?
So, we’re being kicked out. Back to the States. It’s our own faults really—we should have done our due diligence to research how the system was changing before we left in the first place. We leave mid-April, and are crossing our fingers for a three-week turnaround in the States so we can hurry and get back to Cape Town. But, that’s a best-case scenario with the long laundry list of visa requirements we have to see to. And, someone could always give us a big, fat rejection. You never know with visa bureaucracy.
Still, the process in the U.S. is much more efficient and predictable than if we had applied for the same visa from here in South Africa. Apparently, although you’re supposed to do any kind of visa changes at least sixty days days out from your visa’s expiration date, it can take anywhere from six weeks to “who knows?”, like someone we recently met who is still waiting on her spousal visa after eight months. So, even if was still possible to do it from within South Africa, we’d still technically have to be here illegally, as it probably would have taken too long—even if we applied for the visa the day we landed in Cape Town.
What a hassle. I’m not a good enough flyer to be doing this trip three times in four months. Yeesh.
Instead of stressing about it, I’m trying to focus on the good things that come from this little expat hiccup—seeing family, smooshing my face into my cats’ faces, saving money on housing, smooshing my face into my cats’ faces…