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Film industry South Africa applicants for work-authorization visas will no longer have to apply in person but can send an agent or proxy to apply on their behalf. This is a huge step forward in the film industry visa situation and comes thanks to the team at FIVA (Film Industry Visa Assistance) and their successful negotiations with the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) to overcome the visa processing challenges faced by our industry.

The DHA have also agreed to a 5 working day turnaround for visa processing unless there is a valid reason why this is not possible. Both these conditions will have huge impact on time-restricted talent who are among those still required to get work authorization visas when coming to shoot in South Africa. As most readers will know, the requirement of Directors, DP’s and photographers from visa-exempt countries to apply for work authorization visas was dropped last year: a vital step forward & a heartening indication of the DHA’s recognition of the importance of our industry and of their willingness to work with us.

Other international crew members who still need work authorisation visas include talent, camera operator, stylist, make-up artist etc.

Any visitor from a non-visa-exempt country will of course still be required to get a visa regardless of their role in the production.

Here is a full summary of the new concessions for applicants of work authorisation visas in this latest directive:

  • Film industry South Africa applicants no longer have to apply in person but may apply through a proxy or agent (various terms and conditions apply regarding letters of authority etc)
  • Embassies will ensure that visas are turned around in 5 working days unless they have a valid reason why this cannot be achieved. NB the normal turnaround time applies where applications are made at VFS Centres (Eg UK VFS Centres where turnaround time is 7-10 working days).
  • Applicants may apply in whichever country they are in even if on holiday; they are no longer required to apply in the country in which they are resident
  • Those embassies which insisted on appointments must now accept walk-in’s (eg Dublin, the Hague)
  • Work authorization visas will no longer be specific only to the South African service company who is “sponsoring” the application (ie a visa will not mention the sponsor company by name)
  • If an applicant has been issued with a 90-day Work Authorisation visa in the past then on their second application they will be granted a 3 year multi-entry visa.

FIVA was established when the film industry came together 5 years ago to petition the DHA after they ended the visa exemption system that we had been operating under for many years. Since then the FIVA office has issued over 44,000 letters for clients from 138 countries and negotiated many changes and improvements, earning the trust of the DHA and proving themselves to be an invaluable asset to the film industry.

Next on the visa wish-list is for FIVA to be integrated into the e-visa system, something that would literally change the world of film industry visas as we know it.

We are incredibly grateful to the CEO of FIVA Rudi Riek and the incredible team behind him who work so tirelessly for our industry; they do this industry proud and are yet another example of what makes the film industry South Africa service industry such a force to be reckoned with . Read also :

– Beccy Kellond, Marketing / Partner Moonlighting






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