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I was previously declared undesirable in South Africa for a period of 12 months from June 2014 to June 2015. For background, I overstayed my visa by 12 hours 4 days after the visa laws changed in 2014. I didn't appeal because I would be studying back in the USA for 12 months and was given legal advice that I did not need to spend up to 36 months and hundreds of dollars appealing it if I did not want to return to South Africa during the period for which I was banned.

Flash forward to 2017. I have gotten a job back in South Africa and qualify for a Critical Skills visa. I have completed all necessary paperwork, spent dozens of hours and hundreds of dollars gathering paperwork and called several embassies in the US to confirm that my prior "undesirable" status would not be an issue for this current application. All embassies confirmed that since the ban on entry was for 12 months and expired in 2015, I would be fine with my current visa application. Confirmed this 2 months ago with DC, Chicago and New York.

I arrived yesterday in DC to submit my critical skills visa application. Only then did the consulate decide that I needed an additional letter from DHA confirming that my undesirable status was no longer in effect. I have contacted DHA overstay appeals office, but I am concerned that since my overstay was so long ago that they will not write the letter I now apparently need. SA consulate in DC seemed to think that if I was once declared undesirable, no matter for how long, then I was always "undesirable" without a letter from DHA even after the 12 month period listed on my paperwork had passed.

Will my critical skills visa application be fine without this letter? Am I really considered "undesirable" forever without a DHA letter despite the fact that all of my paperwork says 12 months?

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Seems I'm able to answer my own question here! I'll outline the steps in this process so that hopefully anyone else undertaking it will be less confused.

1) Make sure you have all documents pertaining to your overstay (passport(s), DHA-46 Form 19, prior attempts to appeal, etc.)

NOTE: In addition to including documents from step 1 on your application, you'll need to use these documents apply to have your name cleared by DHA even if your period of undesirability has passed.

2) Email all documents from step 1 to overstayappeals@dha.gov.za.

3) Call to confirm the receipt of your documents. Beware, they hardly ever answer these phones. I had over 100 attempts over two days and only got an answer once. Do not give up and do not assume any of your emails will be answered without a follow up phone call! Be persistent. Make sure you talk to Hilda when you finally get someone to answer. I tried several different numbers I found referring to overstay appeals on the internet. I'll list here: +270124064528 +270124064985 Two more numbers can be found here: https://m.facebook.com/Overstay-Appeal-RSA-Forum-to-help-persons-that-overstayed-879724122115082/

4) Eventually, you will get an email letter from DHA stating that your undesirability has been waived. You will NOT be able to apply for a visa or re-enter South Africa even after your undesirability period has passed without this waiver!! I was already in DC to submit my visa application when I discovered I needed this letter so I ended up hounding various people at DHA until I had several people working on getting this letter. It took me about 3 days in total to get the waiver letter.

5) Include all of the documentation regarding your overstay ban with your visa application. Do not hide anything. Be open and honest and people are willing to work with you on it.

This process is for an overstay/ declaration of undesirability that has already passed without attempting an appeal while the ban on entry was in effect. I can't speak to how to appeal an active ban on entry. However, I would give the same advice of calling repeatedly until you speak to someone about your situation and get a firm timeline on the completion of the waiver or appeal process.

If you call your South African embassy and they do not mention this letter, assume you need it anyways. I spoke to every embassy in the US and they all had different things to say and no one was quite sure until I physically got to the office in DC.

Hope this helps!

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