How South Africa denies Nigerians entry through late issuance of visa

SOUTH African High Commission to Nigeria seems to have adopted a new tactic of denying Nigerians entry into its country by waiting for a long period of time to process their visa applications. By the time the visa is eventually issued, the purpose of the visit must have passed.

In its visa application form, the South Africa High Commission states that it takes between five to ten days to process visitor’s visa application. Also, the VFS Global, the company that receives visa applications on behalf of South Africa states on its website that “the timelines given by South African High Commission in Nigeria for the processing of each application is minimum 6 working days.”

But an applicant is told that it takes a minimum of 15 working days to process the application after paying N32, 671 non-refundable fees at the VFS Global.  Again, most applicants do not get any response from the High Commission even after the 15 working days.

South Africa High Commission requires Nigerian applicants to show verifiable return flight ticket and accommodation as part of the visa application requirements.

As applicants are not aware of the unstated minimum of 15 working days, they often purchase their flight tickets and book accommodation which they may never use because the period of processing their applications is overstretched.

The delay in visa issuance has prevented many Nigerians from participating in international conferences taking place in South Africa. An example is just the concluded African Investigative Journalism Conference that took place at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg between October 28 and 31.

The South Africa High Commission is still holding the passports of the Nigerian journalists even when the conference has been concluded despite some of them applying for visa three weeks earlier before the conference was due to commence.

The passport of the former editor of The ICIR, Fisayo Soyombo, who was scheduled to speak at the conference, is still with South Africa High Commission even though he applied for visa on time.

Theophilus Abbah, a journalist and trainer did not participate in the conference because his passport is still with the High Commission.

This delay in issuing visa also affected Chikezie Omeje, The ICIR’s senior investigative and data reporter who won the best fact check prize in this year’s African Fact Checking Awards. He could not travel to receive the prize at the ceremony in Johannesburg on October 30 because his passport is still with the High Commission.

Omeje said he applied for the visa on October 11 and even followed up with a letter for expedited visa processing but still have not gotten any response from the High Commission.

Similarly, Ibrahim Alawode who was the runner-up in the student category of the award still has not seen his passport despite all his effort to reach out to the High Commission to get his visa to travel for the award ceremony.

A young journalist, based in Lagos, told The ICIR that she got her visa after two weeks that the workshop she intended to travel for had ended.

Many of the visa applicants who spoke to The ICIR on Thursday said the pattern of delay in issuing a visa is a new practice by the South Africa High Commission as they suggested that it could be a new tactic of preventing Nigerians from visiting South Africa.

A staff of the VFS Global told The ICIR that delays in processing visa application were caused by the absence of a consular officer at the High Commission for about a month.

He said a new consular officer was posted just Thursday last week and there was already a backlog of applications. He said during the period without a consular officer, only emergency visa applications were processed, like those going for medical treatment.

Several calls made by The ICIR to the South Africa High Commissions were not answered and The ICIR reporter who visited the High Commission was prevented from gaining access to the premises by a security agent.

George Edokpa, spokesperson of Ministry of Foreign Affairs told The ICIR on the phone that he was not aware of the maltreatment of Nigerians by the South Africa High Commission.  He, however, referred the reporter to the director of consular services in the ministry, whom he said would be in a better position to provide answers.

The reporter was told at the consular department that “the director was not on seat”.



    It is unclear whether the unnecessary delay in processing visa applications by the South Africa High Commission is a deliberate policy or temporary issue occasioned by the alleged absence of a consular officer.

    At a time that many African countries are implementing visa on arrival for Africans as a result of the push for free trade and movement of people in the continent, this maltreatment of Nigerians by the South Africa High Commission appears to be an insult.

    South Africa, in fact, mostly closes her door to other Africans but more welcoming to the wider world, according to a BBC report.

    “Citizens of only 15 African nations can travel to South Africa without a visa, yet holders of 28 different European passports can enter the country freely,” the BBC report says.

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    1. Likewise mine I submitted since may 18 2022 till now I didn’t heard anything from them .what are wicked act it’s that. I need my passport for another things.for the past 3month now. .so annoyed..

    2. very unfortunate, the same experience here, very discouraging and it appear they are not bother. Since 23rd of May,2022 to date i have not receive my passport

    3. So can I email the high commission directly. This is becoming unbearable, I have applied twice last year and I got denied due to some information they needed. Now it’s 2months since I applied for study permit and I’m yet to hear anything from them. If they don’t want to allow Nigerians to travel to their country then they should stop extorting money from us na

    4. The unfair treatment being melted on Nigerians especially students that have been admitted to South African universities is unimaginable. Something has to be done fast to put things right. After paying many compulsory fees including insurance with valid documents, yet the embassy chooses to delay your visa for unknown reasons.

    5. Petition should be written against the south Africa high commission in Nigeria for their maltreatment. Its unfair and unjustifiable to withhold one’s passport for longer than the speculated time
      Africa to Africa ooo

    6. Hi there , to those that submitted end of 2021 and begining 2022, did you receive your visa yet please?
      In experiencing the same issue. I applied on the 9 of march and until now i have no response.

      Precious why was your study visa declined please?

    7. I’m experiencing similar delays in my short term visitor’s visa application to South Africa. Since February 24th till today, no response from South Africa’s embassy. VFS Global now tells me processing time for my visa is indefinitely at the Embassy’s discretion after collecting non-refundable fees from me. How can I resolve this please help?.

    8. I submitted my passport since, November 4th 2021, haven’t received any message concerning my visa,, it is almost getting 3months now , no response , pls why are they delaying my visa, is unfair

    9. Have applied since November 10, 2021 my passport is yet to be delivered back to me. I am begging south African high commission to please release my passport back to me.

    10. Same as they did to me early June 2021 had to study a course for six month which had started first week of July buh delivered my pass after 2weeks of July yet it was denied reason was very discouraging

      Like what….

    11. Hope those guys have gotten their passports
      Am a victim of SA embassy visa delay since 12/04/19,they should just please release my passport am begging them I promise not to go near their embassy building again biko.


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