General information about temporary residence visas


The Immigration Act, 2002 (Act No 13 of 2002), aims at setting in place a system of immigration control which ensures that visas are issued as expeditiously as possible, on the basis of simplified procedures and objective, predictable and reasonable requirements and criteria and without consuming excessive administrative capacity. The Immigration Act mandates the Department to promote economic growth through the employment of needed foreign labour, facilitate foreign investment, enable the entry of exceptionally skilled or qualified people, facilitate academic exchanges within the Southern African Development Community and promote tourism, without compromising the security of the Republic.

The Immigration Act provides for various categories of temporary residence visas, such as-

  • Transit visas for the purpose of transiting the Republic enroute to a neighbouring country
  • Visitor’s visas for visits not exceeding 90 days
  • Visitor’s visas for activities longer than 90 days but not exceeding three years
  • Study visas
  • Treaty visas
  • Business visas
  • Medical treatment visas
  • Relative’s visas
  • Work visas
  • Retired person visas
  • Exchange visas


The temporary residence visa application form, DHA-1738, contains a list of all the supporting documents which are required for the different categories of temporary residence visas. Applicants are advised to ensure that all the supporting documents are submitted with the application form, failure which may result in the application being refused.

With effect from 26 May 2014 applicants are required to submit an application for a temporary residence visa in person at the South African diplomatic representative in his or her country of origin or at a South African diplomatic representative in a neighbouring country if there is no South African diplomatic representation in the applicant's country of origin. The purpose of the in person application is for biometric data to be captured.

Applicants are advised to ensure that they apply for the correct temporary residence visa commensurate with the intended activities to be undertaken in the Republic, since holders of visitor’s visas are no longer allowed to apply for change of status or change of conditions relating to his or her visitor’s visa from inside the country. For example, a person who applies for a visa to visit a family member in South Africa cannot apply for a relative’s visa to remain in the country with such family member. Such person is required to return to his or her country of origin or of permanent residence in order to apply for a relative’s visa. The same applies to a person who obtained a visitor’s visa for short-term employment activities in terms of section 11(2) of the Immigration Act who cannot apply for a work visa from inside the country.

Applications may be made for the extension of a temporary residence visa by applying online, 60 days prior to the expiry date of the visa at