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Indian companies may have to wait longer for securing visas for South Africa as the government has admitted that its full visa waiting list would only be cleared by the end of June 2024. A slew of complaints has been registered by Indian businesses in the past few years about long delays in securing visas for South Africa. While Indian missions grant tourist and business e-visas to South Africans within a week, there is no reciprocal facility for Indian citizens at South African missions in India.

“The current backlog across all visa categories is 56,543. The department envisages having cleared the current backlog by June 2024 for all categories of visas," Minister of Home Affairs Aaron Motsoaledi said last week in response to a question from an opposition MP. “The average response time varies for different visa categories," he said.

South African Home Minister said a target of eight weeks had been set for the turnaround time for business and general work visas, to bring it down from the current 14 weeks. Indian companies have long been asking their government and missions in South Africa to look into the issue.

During a recent conference hosted by CII here, several business leaders highlighted how this delay in granting visas to CEOs and other top officials of companies wanting to invest in South Africa would cause them to take their funds to other countries which welcomed them more readily.

Indian High Commissioner Jaideep Sarkar previously assured Indian heads of companies represented in South Africa that the matter was being addressed with that country’s authorities. The Indian companies also complained about delays in getting work visas for staff.

One of the challenges companies faced was that their visa applications at Indian embassies and consulates in India had to be sent to a central point in Pretoria for processing, causing even further delays.

Following representations from several foreign delegates at an investment conference hosted by President Cyril Ramaphosa earlier this year as well, South African missions abroad were allowed to attend to visa applications at their offices again since September 1.

Officials of the department said applications in the backlog would be considered according to the priority needs of businesses and other institutions.

(With PTI inputs)

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