VFS Global has said that they have processed a lot more visas in 2023. Image: canva

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Visa applications from South Africa have significantly increased

VFS Global has reported that there was a massive surge in visa applications from South Africans looking to travel in 2023.

09-07-24 11:17
VFS Global has said that they have processed a lot more visas in 2023. Image: canva

Visa applications on the rise

VFS Global, which, in South Africa, manages visa application centres for the Department of Home Affairs, recently reported that in 2023, visa application volumes globally were at 80% of 2019 levels, while South African volumes alone neared pre-pandemic levels at 94%, with 25% more applications being processed.

According to Travel News, this translated to 24,1 million applications globally in 2023 when compared to 2019’s 30,31 million.

Nadia Wick, VFS Global Head of Operations of Southern Africa said that based on these trends they expected the surge in international travel in 2022 and 2023 would continue in 2024.

“Outbound travel has rebounded last year to near pre-pandemic levels, with tourism, family visits, and educational as well as business trips being the common reasons for outbound travel from South Africa,” Wick said as per Travel News.

VFS also revealed that South Africa’s top outbound destinations in 2023 were Canada and Australia, as well as the Schengen destinations of Italy and the Netherlands.

VFS to process Ireland-bound visas going forward

In other recent news, Ireland’s government announced that South Africans and Botswana nationals wishing to visit the country would now require visas.

Giving the reason for this new decision, the Irish Department of Justice Minister Helen McEntee, said a significant number of International Protection applications had been received from nationals of Botswana and South Africa in recent years. 

Up until now, travellers from South Africa and Botswana have not needed visas to enter Ireland as both have been designated as ‘safe countries of origin’ for International Protection purposes.

A ‘safe country of origin’ is described as a country where someone seeking asylum is unlikely to face threats of persecution, torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or indiscriminate violence, and are the only countries on the list of ‘safe countries’ that do not currently require visas. 

The Irish Department of Justice will establish three Visa Applications Centres, located throughout South Africa, with visa service provider VFS Global, who will process these new visa applications.