Visa application South Africa -what is a letter of good cause?

Foreigners who fail to renew their visa on time while they are in South Africa, often find themselves in an unfortunate situation of not having a current status in the country. As per South African Immigration Act No. 13 of 2002, illegal foreigners have to be deported, unless if the Director-General of Home Affairs authorizes that they do not get deported by granting them a letter of good cause, which they have to apply  for while they are in the country. These kinds of circumstances are mostly experienced by foreigners whose visas are no longer valid/have expired and who are then labelled as “foreigners who have overstayed their visa. The immigrant has to meet has to meet the requirements that are outlined by the Home Affairs in order to apply for the authorization order to receive the letter of good cause in South Africa, in order to be pardoned and given a time frame to remain in the country pending a visa application.

The authorization will be judged according to the outcome of whether they can prove that:

  • That they have never been arrested or ordered to depart South Africa;
  • That they couldn’t apply for the visa on time, due to reasons that were beyond their control;
  • That they are in a position to do a visa application. The applicant must keep a complete visa application form ready for submission when their request for authorization is being made.


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As soon as the application of a letter of good cause in South Africa has been received and the applicant has met all the requirements, the Director-General will give the applicant the form 20, which is also referred to as a letter of good cause. The Home Affairs official will grant the applicant the form to confirm the success of the letter of good cause application , then a date will be issued for the applicant to submit a visa application. The rules and regulations that are outlined in terms of the letter of good cause, will determine whether the application will be granted the letter of good cause or not. It is advisable that the applicant should check whether they meet the requirements first, rather than to wait for the application to be rejected and then they fail to make their visa application. If the individual fails to meet the requirements needed In order for them to be granted the “letter of good cause”, he/she will be given a notice to leave the country within a specified period of time.

Visa application-reasons for the application to be denied

The application will not be accepted or considered by the department of Home Affairs, if the visa is about to expire and/or it has less than 30 days left. Foreigners leave their accommodations at wee hours to queue at the Department of Home Affairs, for hours and hours, only for some to have their applications denied by the immigration officer. The foreigner’s  visa application will only be considered if the applicant provides a letter of good cause to the South African Department of Home Affairs that states valid reasoning as to why the application has not been submitted 30 days before the visa expired.

Visa application-What is a letter of good cause in South Africa?, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Capetown, Durban

In sum, language barrier could be one of the main factors that lead to many foreigners finding themselves in a situation whereby they have to apply for the letter of good cause due to the fact that their visas expired without their knowledge as they are not familiar with the native language of the host country or due to unforeseen circumstances that they could not in any way have prevented them from occurring, which will then lead to them not being able to do their visa application. In a case of a foreigner that happens to be in need of translation services, Frenchside will be of assistance.

Multilingual services offered by Frenchside

We are a proudly South African, Johannesburg based Translation and Interpretation Company, that has over a decade of experience and expertise of helping businesses and individuals boost their international appeal with the interpretation and translation services we conduct. If an immigrant finds themselves in a situation whereby they are faced with language barrier, Frenchside will come to the immigrant’s rescue, as we offer detailed visa interpretation as well as making it a point that the applicant is aware of the end date of their visa. If you are an immigrant and you find yourself in a situation where you are in need of visa translation, be sure to contact us, as we give the best service one could ask for.

Contact us for additional information about our Visa translation services at +27 (0) 12-348- 3134 or e-mail us at and we will be more than happy to hear from you, and we will surely answer all the questions you may have.



South African immigration-what is a letter of good cause?
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South African immigration-what is a letter of good cause?
This article gives a brief explanation of what a letter of good and why would one need it. It also states the requirements that they have to meet in order to be granted the letter of good cause and permission to make their visa application while they are in the country.
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