Level 1 Lockdown Update

for international students

As South Africa has moved to lockdown level 1, below is a comprehensive update regarding to return to campus, visa extensions and visa renewals, and return to South Africa for students who went home before or during the lockdown.
Return to campus
Nelson Mandela University continues to follow strict guidelines from the Department of Health. Staff and students are asked to work or study from home as far as reasonably possible to help curb the spread of COVID-19.
Please return to campus only if you are invited by your department.
In addition, we urge all students to read the Return to Campus Student Guide. In the guide, you will find the following:
  • Academic information relating to the various pathways and new ways of studying;
  • All COVID-19 health protocols – including prevention and surveillance support;
  • Information about wellness and psychosocial support;
  • Online booking links for meals, transport, nutritional support and other important information;
  • Processes to follow if notified to return to campus;
  • Key contacts.
You can download the Return to Campus Student Guide here:
Download Student Guide 2020
For ongoing additional information as further changes are made, please continuously consult the Return to Campus webpage.
Strict health protocols apply to everyone wishing to enter our campuses: screening at entrances, wearing a mask at all times on campus, physical distancing, and hygiene measures.
Visa extension and visa renewals
According to the Department of Home Affairs, all lawfully issued visas for foreign nationals who are currently based in South Africa – including study visas – which expired after 15 February 2020 and during the period of the lockdown in South Africa are deemed to be valid until 31 January 2021.
With the move to lockdown level 1, the VFS Global has informed the universities that they are open for visa and study permit renewals from 29 September 2020. We encourage the international students who are in South Africa and whose student visas have either expired during the lockdown or will expire in 2020, to begin gathering the documents for visa renewal.
Please remember that you need to apply for visa renewal at least 60 days before your visa expires/or before the end of extension until 31 January 2021. If you need to renew your study visa, you need to apply by the end of November 2020.
Please note that only the student visas for students who are currently in South Africa are extended until 31 January 2021. This does not apply to students who left South Africa before or during the lockdown. Students who left South Africa and whose visas expired during the lockdown will have to apply for a new student visa in the South African embassy in their country.

If you are currently based in your home country and you need to renew your study visa, please contact the South African embassy in your home country and check with them when the visa processing will be open. You can contact our office for the acceptance or extension of studies letter that will be part of your study visa application.
More information about renewing your study visas can be found here.
Returning to South Africa
In order to ensure the safety of students and staff, Nelson Mandela University is allowing a gradual return to campuses in order to be able to ensure social distancing. Students in final years and in programmes that require lab or practical work are prioritised for return. Academic departments have strict protocols in place to manage the return of students, with returning students having to receive invitation letters from their departments as well as a permission to return to residences if they are staying in accredited accommodation.
International students who returned to their countries before or during lockdown and who wish to come back to South Africa need to communicate with their departments in order to receive an invitation letter. Students also need to communicate with their residences in order to inform them of their return and receive a permission for return.
The statement from the South African Minister of Department of Higher Education and Training on 30 September 2020 mentions the following regarding the return of international students who are currently in their home countries:
‘With respect to international students who remain outside our country, they will need to meet the requirements of the COGTA regulations – which includes having a test, not older than 72 hours, showing that they are negative for the virus on arrival in South Africa; if not, they will need to go into quarantine at their own expense for at least 10 days before proceeding to their respective institutions.’ 
According to the above statement, if you arrive to South Africa with a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) COVID-19 test not older than 72 hours, you would not need to go into quarantine and you will be allowed to proceed to your destination.
Please contact COVID-19 testing facilities in your home country to find out what documentation you require for testing. In addition, make sure that your test is not older than 72 hours at the time you arrive in South Africa.
If you arrive without a negative COVID-19 test, you would be required to go into quarantine at your own cost. The travellers will be told at the border post where they would go into quarantine. The statement from the Minister suggests that the students would be able to travel to their institutions only after they complete 10 days in quarantine.
Please note that the Momentum Medical Scheme will cover the COVID-19 travel test for international students who need to return to South Africa to resume their studies subject to the following terms and conditions:
  • Ingwe medical scheme membership must be active and in force for the test to be covered;
  • Copy of passport as proof that they left South Africa during COVID-19 lockdown period;
  • Provide travel details (date and mode of travel) back to South Africa and provide proof where applicable;
  • Submit the laboratory report with the COVID result for reimbursement;
  • The COVID test must be conducted by a certified medical practitioner and they need to submit the details (including name, official stamp and signature) of the practitioner who conducted the test.
Students will need to submit all the requirements to in order to receive a reimbursement. Students can contact Momentum via WhatsApp for more info: +27 860 102 493.
Please note that the Momentum Medical Scheme will cover one (1) COVID test for travel per beneficiary and a limit of R850 per test applies. Click here to find out more about the Momentum COVID-19 travel test reimbursement.
International students who are on another medical cover should contact the provider to enquire whether they will reimburse COVID-19 testing.
Please contact us via email at if you have any additional questions.
Email Us