from Africa in Transition

South Africa and New Zealand Reciprocally Eliminate Visa Exemption

December 15, 2016

Blog Post

More on:

Sub-Saharan Africa

South Africa

Immigration and Migration

Politics and Government

New Zealand

In October 2016, the New Zealand government withdrew the visa waiver arrangements for South African passport holders. It said the decision resulted from the number of South African visitors who used the visa waiver to visit family and friends in Zealand, rather than traveling to New Zealand for business or tourism. It also said that some South African visitors were overstaying the three month visa waiver limit or did not return to South Africa. The New Zealand government also cited the number of visitors who presented counterfeit South African passports and were denied entry by the New Zealand authorities.

In December 2016, the South African government announced that it was in turn withdrawing the visa exemption for New Zealand passport holders. The home affairs minister said that South Africa’s visa waiver policy was based on reciprocity.

South Africa and New Zealand are both members of the Commonwealth; white South Africans have long looked at New Zealand as a possible immigration destination. According to the 2013 New Zealand census, 54,279 or 1.36 percent of the country’s population had been born in South Africa. South Africa was the fifth largest source of New Zealand immigrants: ahead of it was the United Kingdom, China, India, and Australia. Over 90 percent of South African immigrants have arrived in New Zealand after the end of apartheid. The majority of whom are white.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, in absolute numbers the white population of South Africa is larger now than it was at the end of apartheid. Though, whites at about 8.3 percent of the population are a smaller proportion of the total population than in 1991 (according to the last census prior to the end of apartheid whites represented 11.7 percent of the population ). Whites continue to immigrate to South Africa, notably from the U.K.

The tit for tat withdrawal of the visa exemption by the two governments does not appear to have larger significance beyond New Zealand’s effort to eliminate visa abuse. South Africa’s action appears to be purely reciprocal.