Holidaying in the Barcelona, Madrid or any of the European Union (EU) countries will become more of an effort than planning the actual holiday itself. Unfortunately, Capetonians and other South Africans travelling to Spain or certain EU countries may now face stricter requirements when applying for a Schengen visa.
Immigration lawyer Gary Eisenberg, said that added requirements have been introduced after BLS International Services, a new visa facilitation company, replaced VFS Visa and Permit Facilitation Centre. Some ways that these requirements have been tightened include an increased turn-a-round time, while certain documents need authorisation by the Spanish police. Eisenberg said there were no specific changes, but rather an overall tightening of documentation from ‘high-risk’ countries such as South Africa.
BLS has its own proprietary standards with regards to applications, meaning that Spain has tightened its requirements when it comes to offering South Africans a Schengen visa.
Countries are becoming far more careful on documentation emanating from South Africa, which are seen as high risk for fraudulent documentation, and this is why Britain has imposed visa restrictions on South Africa.
“So governments I think, are united in their drive to screen documents more carefully,” Eisenberg said.
However, South Africa seems to be a common place for foreigners living with fraudulent visas and fraudulent identity documents.
To apply for a Schengen visa, South Africans need:
- Completed Visa application form
- A South African Passport, not older than 10 years, with at least 2 blank pages and valid for at least 3 months after the date you leave all Schengen countries. Temporary passports are not recognised by many Schengen countries
- Two colour photos which meet the Schengen requirements.
- If you are travelling elsewhere before returning to South Africa, you’ll need to get the visas of the country which you’re leaving the Schengen countries for, before you apply for the Schengen visa (e.g. if you’re going to the UK after visiting the Schengen countries).
- Proof that you paid the visa fee
- Copy of round-trip airline tickets and itinerary, specifying when you’re entering and when you’re leaving the Schengen area
- Bank statements for the last 3 months, to prove sufficient funds (the amount required varies by country). Provide proof of travellers’ cheques, tax receipts for any forex bought and credit card statements or an original letter from the bank showing proving the credit amount
- Proof that you have the minimum Schengen Travel Medical Insurance
- Proof of your hotel bookings. If staying with a friend/family, an invitation letter with a copy of the host’s passport/ID
- If travelling on business, a letter from your employer stating why you’re visiting, as well as a letter from the company in the Schengen country you’re going to. If you’re going to a conference, then send proof of payment and registration
- The unabridged birth certificate of children younger than 18 – this contains full particulars of the of the individual, parents, ID numbers, names in full, city/town of birth and their citizenship. The abridged certificate, by contrast, only shows the child and mother’s ID numbers, names of birth and country of birth. A document providing consent should be provided by any of the child’s parents not travelling with the child. South Africa has only been issuing unabridged birth certificates since 4 March 2013
- Proof of employment in the form of a letter from the company you work for, stating your period of leave and that you’ll continue to be employed when you get back.
The 26 Schengen countries are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
While the Department of Home Affairs confirmed at the end of January 2018 that visa-free travel to the EU was still being discussed for South Africa, the majority of European Union countries will not allow South Africans to enter without a Schengen or similar visa.
South Africans do not require a visa, or only require a visa on entry below to the following countries.
|Antigua & Barbuda||Grenada||Mauritius||South Korea|
|Argentina||Guatemala||Micronesia||St Vincent and the Grenadines|
|Benin||Hong Kong||Palestinian territories||Trinidad and Tobago|
|Dominican Republic||Kosovo||Russian Federation||Zimbabwe|
|Ecuador||Lesotho||Saint Kitts and Nevis|
|El Salvador||Macao||Saint Lucia|
|Visa on arrival|
|Gabon||Maldives||Seychelles (visitor’s permit)|
|Electronic Travel Authority (eTA) entry|
|Ivory Coast||India||Sri Lanka|