Contrary to popular belief, the ‘Enter on or before’ date on your visa is not an expiry date
There is a difference between visas issued within South Africa and visas issued in foreign countries. Visas issued in South Africa have an official expiry date that says VISA EXPIRY DATE. Visas issued outside South Africa has a section where is says ‘enter on or before’.
One should pay close attention to the ‘enter on or before’ date. This date is not your visa’s expiry date but the latest date at which you should have entered South Africa to activate your visa.
When entering South Africa, you will be issued with an entry stamp, and that entry stamp will hold your official visa expiry date.
The immigration officer at the airport issues this stamp with a ‘VALID UNTIL’ date. This date will be the date of entry plus the duration of your visa.
If you have a 3 year visa it will be the date 36 months from your date of entry.
Multiple entry visas allow the individual issued with it to travel in and out of South Africa for the duration of the visa’s validity, right? Wrong.
Even if you are in possession of an entry stamp into South Africa with your visa’s expiry date, some airports will deny you access to board the plane back to South Africa if you are from a visa restricted country and if your ‘enter on or before’ date has passed.
It is of utmost importance that everyone takes the time to educate themselves on the basics of their visa.
Ask the immigration officer upon receiving your entry stamp when exactly your visa expiry date is. If you wish to leave South Africa multiple times with the hopes of returning on the same visa, also try to confirm with the airline the exact date your last entry into South Africa will be allowed, to ensure not being denied to board your plane.
by Chriselle Booise