Being the holder of a South African passport comes with the obligation of applying for a visa before you can travel to many countries. And seeing that visa application fees are non-refundable and can make up as much as 10 percent of the total cost of a trip, you will want to get your application correct the first time.
Despite how complicated the application process can be, the result is fairly predictable if you take some fairly easy-to-follow precautions, according to Daniel Anvari-Brown, a specialist in global immigration and visas for a range of popular destinations.
Anvari-Brown mentions that the point of a travel visa application in most instances is to confirm your identity and establish the purpose of your trip, so it’s also inadvisable to provide false or misleading information.
False or misleading information, if discovered, can lead to your visa being denied, which can affect whether your future visa applications for travel to other destinations are approved. Most countries do ask if you have been previously denied entry into other countries.
He goes on to state that even if the visa is approved here in South Africa, an immigration official can still deny you entry when you land, and possibly cancel your visa, should any discrepancies in your identity and purposes of your trip be discovered.
The grounds for refusing a visa in most countries can be grouped broadly into those that are procedural, where you as the applicant didn’t follow the right steps or didn’t provide all the required information, and those that relate to your history and past conduct.
In case you are asked to provide further information to support your application, keep at hand any other documents that confirm your identity, your financial means (such as bank statements), and anything that shows you intend to return to South Africa at the end of your trip. It’s advisable to travel with these documents, too, in case the immigration officer at your destination asks for them.
As an example, if you have previously stayed in a country longer than your visa permitted, your next visa application to that country could be denied. To avoid this, advises Anvari-Brown, do not overstay.
You will be issued with a landing card that says how long you are allowed to stay or the immigration official at the airport will put a stamp in your passport with this date or period. Stick to these dates religiously to avoid future headaches.
However if you have previously overstayed and your visa is denied, don’t despair, you might still be able to get a visa if you make a case for why you did and why you won’t do it again.
Other grounds for visa denials will be based on your past conduct, such as having violated the terms of previous travel visas by working or having been found guilty of certain criminal offences, which are even more difficult to explain away.
Anvari-Brown states that previous criminal convictions are one thing that discourages people from applying, but in reality denials on this basis are generally limited to very serious crimes, including drugs, fraud and human trafficking.