How Covid-19 has affected the visa process

Travel and visas go hand in hand. And if truth be told, obtaining a visa to travel is a tricky experience at the best of times. Add to this the fact that many business trips are affected by constantly changing travel restrictions, and the main challenge for travellers today is how to get a visa in time.

Covid-19 complications

  • Covid related complications to the process include issues relating to lockdowns, travel restrictions, quarantine regulations and the embassies’ own Covid policies.
  • Many governments suspended travel visa services during Covid, and as a result, embassies are working with reduced staff. As more countries open their borders for travel, embassies are inundated with visa applications, causing a backlog.
  • Processing times are protracted because the number of appointments is limited to accommodate social distancing restrictions. In addition, many embassies are not yet open daily. 
  • Some countries put temporary control measures in place, disallowing certain categories of non-essential travellers to submit visa applications. For example, the UK is not issuing visitor, and business visas to South Africans until the country is removed from the red list.

What you can do to make the process easier 

  • Uncertainty about travel restrictions and quarantine requirements has added complexity to the visa process. For example, some destinations will allow you to transit, and others won’t, or may limit transit time. Factor this into your planning to reduce the number of visa’s required for your trip.
  • Get the most up-to-date guidance when planning. For example, most countries are asking for proof of vaccination with visa documentation post-Covid.
  • Dust off your passport and check that it is valid before applying for your visa. If it is not valid for at least six months from your intended departure date from South Africa, you will have to factor in time to apply for a new passport.
  • Ensure that your visa is processed early in the travel planning stage.
  • Where an embassy does allow, try to obtain a multiple entry or long-stay visa, which reduces the need for an application every time you travel.

The type of visa you need will vary depending on the purpose of your visit, and some may require more paperwork, preparation, and processing time. Ultimately, the golden rule in travel is to plan well and allow enough time to accommodate the embassy’s requirements to issue a visa.

Our team of visa specialists is at hand to help you manage the complexities of the visa landscape. They have developed key relationships with embassies and visa companies to take care of the process from A-Z to meet your visa needs more effectively.