Press Release: Update On Visa Operations

In response to significant worldwide challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of State temporarily suspended routine visa services at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide beginning March 20, 2020, and that suspension continues at this time. The U.S. Mission to South Africa will resume routine visa services as soon as possible, but is unable to provide a specific date at this time. Please see these notices, which contain detailed information about the current status of visa services worldwide and visa restrictions related to the COVID-19 global pandemic.  

Despite the worldwide suspension of routine visa services, the U.S. Mission to South Africa continues to provide emergency and mission critical visa services to the extent possible, given resource constraints and local government restrictions. Applicants with a need to travel immediately should follow the guidance provided at the U.S. Embassy’s Global Support Services website to request an emergency appointment. Examples of an urgent matter include the hospitalization or death of an immediate family member, and the travel of medical personnel, particularly those working to treat or mitigate the effects of COVID-19. Medical professionals with an approved U.S. nonimmigrant or immigrant visa petition (I-129 or I-140 with a current priority date, or similar) or a certificate of eligibility in an approved exchange visitor program (DS-2019), particularly those working to treat or mitigate the effects of COVID-19, should request an emergency visa appointment.   

The U.S. Mission to South Africa is accepting nonimmigrant visa applications from diplomats and officials requiring A or G visas. Additionally, the U.S. Mission to South Africa is processing H-2A visa applications for temporary agricultural workers as possible. H-2A applicants are asked to work closely with their recruiter, who is in contact with their respective consulate.   

Regarding student visa applications, we are working to ensure that our aspiring and returning students will receive priority attention once routine visa operations can resume. The U.S. Mission to South Africa will publicize any announcement on the resumption of student visa interviews once information is available. 

On May 22, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Acting Secretary Wolf signed an order exempting certain foreign professional athletes who compete in professional sporting events organized by certain leagues from Presidential Proclamations 9984, 9992, 9993, and 9996. This exemption only applies to certain professional athletes, essential staff, team and league leadership, spouses, and dependents. Individuals who believe they may qualify under this exemption should ask their athletic league representative to contact DHS for guidance on whether they are exempted. If your athletic league or group has been exempted by DHS and you require a visa to travel, follow the instructions on the website of your nearest Embassy or Consulate to complete your application and request a visa appointment.    

Local government restrictions may limit the ability of the U.S. Mission to South Africa to process emergency visas at this time.  Applicants’ travel is subject to local laws, regulations, and travel restrictions. For more information, please visit the South African Department of Home Affairs. 

The temporary suspension of routine visa services does not affect the Visa Waiver Program. See this website for more information.

For applicants who already paid the Machine Readable Visa (MRV) fee but who could not secure a visa appointment before the global suspension of visa services, the MRV fee remains valid and may be used for a visa appointment in the country where it was purchased within one year of the date of payment.

Emergency services for U.S. citizens continue to be available at all Consulates under the U.S. Mission to South Africa—Cape Town, Durban, and Johannesburg.