Over the years we have learned a lot about the VISA application process to get our GSP participants travel ready. Our team does its best to assist our participants get through the process by providing critical information, documentation and advice to speed up and make the process as fluid as possible.
Four key points are important to remember throughout this process, and we encourage our participants to ensure that they do these 4 things to make the process flow more easily:
- TIME. Give yourself time. The sooner you start the VISA application process the better. Do not leave anything to the last minute.
- CHECK. Not every foreign national needs to apply for a VISA. Some countries are exempt. To check if you will need to apply for a VISA, click here. If you have to apply for a VISA check that you have all the documents you need according to your country of citizenship/country of passport issue.
- CERTIFY/NOTARIZE. Make sure that your documents are certified/notarized. Embassies are strict about this so please make sure you have gone to your local notary public (might be a police station or attorney).
- PACK. We provide a detailed packing list and instructions to guide our participants on what to pack for the camp. We continue to have instances every year where many participants still come poorly prepared and without having read the packing list. It is critical that our participants read and follow the packing list so that they have everything they need for the camp.
The following documents are supplied by the Academy for the VISA application process:
- An invitation letter confirming attendance, dates of the session applied for, and the address of the location of the program. This serves as the statement confirming the purpose and duration of your visit to South Africa.
- Participant letter confirming that all expenses in terms of accommodation and meals will be covered by ALA (based on your program fees).
- Completed Department of Home Affairs BI-84 form (Non-Exempt Visa Application)
- Confirmation of Guardianship for minors.
- Copy of Identity Document of GSP Vice-President who stands as guardian while students attend the program
In addition to these documents, participants also need to submit the documents required according to their country of passport issue. These include, but are not limited to:
- A passport valid for no less than 30 days after the expiry of your intended visit
- Your passport must have at least TWO unused pages for entry / departure endorsements
- Certified/Notarized copy of passport
- 2 x colour passport-sized photographs
- In the case of minors we recommend you refer to the Home Affairs website to ensure you have required documents based on your situation. In the case of a minor traveling alone, the following is required:
- Parent Affidavit http://www.dha.gov.za/files/ParentalConsentAffidavit.pdf (certified/notarized proof of guardianship or custody)
- Certified/Notarized copies of unabridged birth certificates (in the case of minors)
- 3 months’ bank statements
- Proof of medical/travel insurance
- Flight itinerary if travelling by air
- Yellow fever vaccination certificate (for some countries)
Once participants have their VISAs in order, we encourage them to begin planning their packing. The GSP is held over the winter season in South Africa. The packing list we send to all our successful applicants details what participants must bring with them in order to be most appropriately dressed and prepared for the program. We strongly recommend that our participants use the list to guide them on what to pack. Flip-flops and shorts may not always be the best clothing options during the program.
The most important things we encourage our participants to prepare and bring with them are the following 4 things:
- A great ATTIDUDE. The experience is challenging and we encourage our participants to be willing to learn and willing to be taken out of their comfort zones all while having fun.
- A spirit of ADVENTURE. Our participants will spend time outdoors and having a spirit of adventure will help them explore their boundaries and develop insight.
- Stepping out of comfort zones can be a fearful thing around people you don’t know. We invite our participants to be willing to engage and willing to be brave in order to see themselves learn and grow.
- We love questions and GSP is about asking them and listening to self and others to find the answers.