The pain of having a South African passport

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Nearly half of South African travelers say they consciously select destinations abroad without a visa requirement or those that issue a visa on arrival.

A study of about 1,000 people conducted by the online booking site Travelstart.co.za between April and July this year provides information on the impact visas have on travelers. South African passport holders accounted for 91% of responses and 48% said they had applied for a visa in the last twelve months.

The economic and time cost of travel visas is becoming heavier for South African passport holders. Complicated documentation requirements, remote visa application centers and delivery deadlines only add to the headache when browsing for a visa, Travelstart said.

Despite the inconvenience inherent in visas, South Africans are willing to trot the world and are doing well in terms of meeting the requirements, with only 4% admitting that they have been denied a visa. According to the research, most refusals are issued by the UK, US and the Schengen area respectively.

Although processing authorities are not required to give reasons for vetoing a visa, the main reasons for refusing a visa range from not providing sufficient reasons for the purpose of a visit, to inadequate proof of background (to give a visa). support for staying at the destination) up to a history of irregular travel, a history of unfavorable visas and lack of a travel itinerary.

Additional reasons for a rejection may include past and current criminal convictions, damaged passports and inadequate travel insurance, although none of the survey participants said they were denied on those grounds, the firm said. of travel.

The cost of visa denial

Several South African passport holders said that the complications of applying for a visa have led them to postpone travel (22%), to lose money (17%), to cancel an entire trip (10%) and to lose flights (6%).

Negative sentiment is dominated by visa costs, excessive documentation requirements and vague application guidelines, which were ranked ahead of lengthy application processes, lack of visa payment options and long distances. to travel to the nearest visa office (which carries its own cost implications for people residing abroad). main cities).

Appointments and processing times

There is no direct response in terms of availability of visits and, in most cases, the speed with which a decision is reached is out of the hands of applicants.

While some authorities take less than a week to process a visa, others can take more than six weeks, Travelstart said. “The speed with which a visa is granted often depends on whether the Embassy or Consulate is delayed in applications,” he said.

Some local travel agencies report waiting up to six months to get an appointment at the U.S. Consulate General. While the processing times of recent U.S. consulates are unusual, access to citations is likely to improve.

Travelstart research found that 31% received a decision on the visa within two weeks after applying and 28% received a decision in less than a week.

Changes in UK and Schengen visas are inconsistent, but applicants can expect an estimated issuance time of two to four weeks, Travelstart said. Some countries and application centers offer express service when travel circumstances are urgent, however, this option attracts higher processing rates and availability is not guaranteed, he further noted.

Tips for passports and visas

Travelstart reported that while international flights that include a stopover are often cheaper than direct flights, several stops can present challenges such as traffic visa requirements. Even if the end point of a passenger does not have a visa, it is necessary to check the rules governing stops in between to avoid delays and disappointments.

Emergency passports are risky travel documents and many countries do not accept them.

The presence of a person online and on social media is a decisive factor when applying for a job and the same applies to visas.

The U.S. Department of State now requires visa applicants to submit social media usernames, email addresses, and previous phone numbers. “Keep a clean online presence and don’t let old tweets or a poorly considered Facebook post count against you when decision makers examine your application,” Travelstart said.

South African passport holders you can visit 99 visa-free countries.

Destinations include Botswana, Brazil, Ethiopia, Hong Kong, Israel, Kenya, Mauritius, Qatar, Singapore, Zambia, Zimbabwe – all of these countries offer exceptional tourist opportunities and, depending on the airline you choose, are accessible on non-stop flights. departing from at least one of South Africa’s three major airports.

Read: Great Leap For South Africans Looking For A Second Passport; this is where they plan to go