The world is currently going through a period of many uncertainties and concerns due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As we stand - almost in the month of September, a full 5 months after the pandemic hit - some countries have started to open their borders again, while others are still under strict lockdown, with South Africa being one of them.
So what is the current Student Visa situation in South Africa? Are the embassies hosting Visa appointments? And when will we be able to travel internationally again, without any extra red tape to deal with?
Here is a little more information that we, at Aspire Atlantic, have gathered over the past few weeks.
Consular Section: Student Visa Processing
Due to ongoing precautions against COVID-19, the US Consulate in Johannesburg remains closed for non-immigrant Visa interviews, and it is not clear when they will return to normal operations.
The Durban and Cape Town US Consulates, however, do have limited availability for Visa interviews. Aspire Atlantic is constantly checking the available dates, and as of this morning, the 4th of September 2020, these are the available dates for each Consular Section:
Travelling to the United States with an F-1 Student Visa:
Over the past few months, no interprovincial travel was allowed without an official travel permit. International travel wasn’t possible at all. These restrictions have been lowered now that we are on Level 2 of lockdown. According to the Government of South Africa, the Department of Home Affairs is not requiring individualized letters from the US Embassy or Consulate for South African citizens wishing to travel to the States for study, provided they hold a valid US visa and travel documents. Nonetheless, it is advised that any student who has their F-1 Visa should still contact the Department of Home Affairs to confirm whether there is any additional information required to obtain permission to depart South Africa.
Please remember - the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has final authority regarding admissibility into the United States at the port of entry. You must have a valid visa for your purpose of travel. The Embassy does not provide additional documentation related to your admissibility into the United States. Moreover, holders of US visas must ensure their travel route does not transit through one of the countries subject to travel restrictions under the Presidential Proclamation found here (including much of Europe, the UK and Brazil).
The United States supports international education and welcomes foreign students and exchange visitors. But even though it is possible to obtain your F-1 Student Visa, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect countries differently. Challenges to any international travel at this time may include mandatory quarantines, travel restrictions, and closed borders. It is important to remember that foreign governments may implement restrictions with little notice, even in destinations that were previously low risk.
For assistance regarding Student Visas, here are the contact details to the US Consulate Offices:
To all students who are interested in studying in the USA, and who plan to use sport to make that a reality: there is no better time to start planning for your future than RIGHT NOW. Sign up for an evaluation to see if Aspire Atlantic can help you achieve your academic and sporting dreams today!