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A High Five for FIVA

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VISA Update: Official Statement from FIVA

The South African borders are officially open for business, which means that it’s time to dust off our lenses and service some serious International productions. We are overjoyed by the recent update and extremely grateful to all parties who continue to work hard and long with the South African government to ensure a seamless and safe travel experience for all our overseas clients.

Below is an official statement issued on the 5th of October as well as an update on procedures on 7th of October from our friends at FIVA around VISA Applications and other safety protocols. If you have any questions around this, please contact our Head of Production, Kabelo Seane on kabelo@mrfilmsa.com

We look forward to seeing your beautiful faces soon!

UPDATE: 07 OCTOBER 2020

We have managed today to meet with the team who manages the special permission for business travel from High Risk Countries in order to make sure we understand each other’s processes and work optimally to ensure you get those business permissions out ASAP.

The team checks and collates all the requests received from all business people from all High risk Countries daily, and then once a day the collated approved requests are signed off by a high ranking official before the travel letters are issued.

This is this not just a rubber stamp exercise or an automated process unfortunately.

We have agreed on the following:

  1. Fiva needs to receive all applications for high risk travel permission from you daily before 15:30.
  2. Fiva will then send one email per day at 16:00 to the team approving this with all the requests we received that day.
  3. Once the team receives this they will need minimum 24 hrs to get the letters back to us.( their normal processing time is 3 days but have agreed to reduce for us)
  4. We then once a day after 16:00 will send you the received approvals.
  5. Unfortunately requests received by us after 15:30 daily will only be sent in the next day’s batch.

Please note this excludes weekends as they don’t work on weekends, you thus need to allow more time if your client is traveling on the weekend or on a Monday morning.

We realize this is a painful additional step, but these are the current regulations and neither DHA nor Fiva can unfortunately just bypass this authorization which is required for all business people entering the country for all industries within SA.

Fiva as always will try our utmost to assist where humanly possible to make this as efficient and painless as possible.

STATEMENT: 05 OCTOBER 2020

On Monday 5th October, Rudi Riek, CEO of Fiva, met with several High ranking Officials from the Department of Home Affairs including DDG Mathews who chaired the meeting.

The meeting follows the announcement by Minister Motsoaledi on the 30th of September 2020 in relation to the partial reopening of our borders and how this would impact our industry.

The Department is cognizant of the enormous contribution our industry has made and can make in drawing foreign investment and as such the following was agreed upon:

  1. It was agreed that Immigration Directive 2 of 2020 is still in effect and thus does not require reinstatement, but does require that the department reminds the Missions and Port of Entry that it is valid and that an FOC (Foreign Office Circular) explaining this would be the way forward.
  2. It was agreed that although it would not be possible to substitute the Covid19BusinessTravel@dha.gov.za email request with just the issuance of a FIVA letter, that the Department agrees that FIVA can on a daily basis email the letters it issues for business travellers from High risk Countries directly to the Covid19BusinessTravel@dha.gov.za email address and that such mails would be considered as and treated as High Priority
  3. It was agreed that only the FIVA letter -sent by FIVA to covid19BusinessTravel@dha.gov.za, is required, as FIVA holds all the other documentation on a secured online system. We will not be mailing biometric data.
  4. It was agreed that in the FOC it should be mentioned to the missions that a negative Covid test is not required in order to apply for a visa, but that this test is only required 72 hours prior to departure.
  5. It was agreed that all Health Department regulations in relation to Covid 19 need to be adhered to by Film travellers despite the waivers offered in Directive 2 of 2020
  6. It was agreed that FIVA will engage with the Foreign Office regarding the details surrounding the above as this has been the nodal point of interaction since the establishment of the relationship

There is a lot of information out there at the moment and some of it is unclear and might seem contradictory. I will attempt to provide clarity below.

  • Please read Directive 2 of 2020
  • There is a list of 11 Countries which was released earlier in the week – please note that this does not mean only these 11 Countries are visa exempt – all Countries which were previously Visa exempt prior to Covid, are now Visa exempt again.
  • The only people who need to apply for special permission to travel are people who are coming from Countries which are on the High Risk List – this is both Oversight and Specialists. But again – FIVA will do those requests on behalf of the traveler.

Click here to see which Countries are considered High risk (note this gets updated every two weeks)

Let me give you some examples,

  • If you are a Producer from Germany (currently medium risk) and you have a Fiva Letter – you can proceed straight to your flight without needing a visa or special permission.
  • If you are a producer from the UK (currently high risk) , you need a FIVA letter, and Fiva needs to obtain permission for you to travel – and you need both of those before being able to fly.
  • If you are a specialist – nothing changes, you need to apply at a mission as per directive 2 of 2020 – the only difference is, Fiva would have obtained additional permission for you prior to you applying for your visa – which you need to take with to the mission.
  • If you live in a visa non exempt Country, Directive 2 of 2020 applies – everyone needs a visa – but those from a high risk non visa exempt country also need special permission before going to apply for the visa.

Health and other requirements:

In Addition to the requirements as per Directive 2 of 2020 and this new requirement for special permission that Fiva obtains for you, EVERYONE needs to comply with the following COVID 19 Requirements:

  • You must have a certified PCR negative test no older than 72 hours prior to departure with you. This needs to be a physical document which is signed and dated by a medical professional. (Fiva Would suggest that you consider making a certified copy of this and keeping both documents very safe – without it you will have no end of trouble)
  • You must have Travel insurance and present this at port of entry – the travel insurance must include cover for a covid test and potential quarantine expenses.
  • You must have proof of accommodation on paper when reporting to port of entry – this proof of accommodation must match that which you stated in your FIVA letter.
  • You must have a FIVA letter printed in colour and presented at Port of Entry.
  • You must download the Covid19 App upon arrival.
  • Productions must stick to strict Covid Protocols on Set

The only times you would potentially quarantine are:

  • If you arrive at Port of entry without a PCR test or with an outdated or incorrect (not signed or dated by a health Professional) PCR Negative test – you will be forced into mandatory Government Quarantine at your own cost.
  • If you arrive at port of entry and you show symptoms of Covid19, and you present a properly certified PCR negative test- you will be tested again and you will have to self Isolate at the accommodation you have indicated in your accommodation booking.

It is false information that travelers from High Risk Countries automatically need to quarantine

Previously obtained Long-term Visas 

  • If your traveler has an S11.1.b.4 visa which was issued prior to Covid19, and the visa is still valid the following applies: 
  • If the traveler is from a High Risk Country, they need to first obtain permission to travel again – Fiva can do this on your behalf.
  • If the traveler is from a low or medium risk Country then their visa is valid and they can travel.
  • Both examples however, like everyone else need to abide by the health Protocols.

There are bound to be many more questions and our office stands ready to attempt to answer them. In closing the Foreign Office Circular has not yet gone out and our hope is it will go out by tomorrow, however because our directive 2 of 2020 is still in place, FIVA is authorized to resume issuing letters, making appointments for you and assisting you like we always have. As always we do expect some teething problems at missions and potentially port of entry but stand ready to assist you.

Thank you for your patience

Sincerely
Rudi Riek
CEO FIVA
081 525 0690