Visa delays for SA

UK and US visa processing delays are the next obstacle facing South African travellers. Image: Adobe Stock

Hurry up and wait: Expect visa delays as borders reopen for South Africa

Numerous countries have reopened their borders to South African nationals, but there are now visa backlogs to contend with.

Visa delays for SA

UK and US visa processing delays are the next obstacle facing South African travellers. Image: Adobe Stock

South Africa became the pariah state of the world in late November last year when South African scientists announced the discovery of the Omicron variant in the country.

A multitude of governments placed restrictions on South Africa, in an attempt to curb the spread of the Omicron variant. Flight bans and border closures followed, resulting in South Africa becoming extremely isolated once again.

This brought frustration to a number of South Africans who were no longer able to visit overseas family and friends they had planned to travel to after having been banned for many months.


Later in December, there was some progress in the easing of the Omicron-induced travel bans, which were criticised as being unscientific, discriminatory and ineffective at curbing the new variant’s spread.

Canada, the United States, United Kingdom, parts of Europe, and even Australia (selected individuals only) have now reopened to travellers from South Africa.

ALSO READ: UK to scrap pre-arrival PCR test requirements


Getting over the border bans was just the first hurdle. As South Africans require visas to enter most of the reopened destinations, a second obstacle presented itself: Processing delays.

Delays in visa processing are now holding up plans for South Africans who want to take long-awaited trips to see family and friends in various countries.

Business Insider states that months of ongoing travel bans, coupled with reduced staffing capacity at processing centres and embassies have led to a backlog of visa applications.


Embassies have issued statements warning applicants that visa processing is delayed and requesting patience.

The British High Commission issued a warning to visa applicants in South Africa after it removed the country from its red list in mid-December.

“We are experiencing extremely high demand on our visa services globally as we work through existing and new applications,” noted the British High Commission in South Africa.

“Now that we can resume processing applications, we will do so as quickly as possible – but we regret the interruption to our services may mean significant delays.”

The United States issued a similar notice to applicants, stating that it may take longer periods to schedule an interview appointment for applicants to apply for US entry visas.

“Please note that the rescission of P.P. 10315 [presidential proclamation prohibiting travel] does not necessarily mean that your local US embassy or consulate is able to immediately schedule all affected applicants for visa interviews,” as quoted in Business Insider.

ALSO READ: These are the countries in Europe South Africans still CAN’T travel to…