Answer to a question from a reader

What should I do if my passport is on the V-list?

The short answer

You can contact Home Affairs to appeal your status as a "prohibited person".

The long answer

To be on the V-list means that you are a “prohibited person”, which means that you are banned from entering South Africa. A prohibited person is different from an “undesirable person” as the undesirable person is often a person who has overstayed their visa, and they can usually enter South Africa again after one to five years. 

Section 29 of the Immigration Act 13 (2002) sets out the grounds for someone to be declared a prohibited person, but usually you get put on the V-list for two things:  

  1. Being found with a fraudulent visa, permit, passport or identity document;

  2. Having been previously deported from South Africa.

If you are applying for asylum, they may reject it on the grounds of it being “manifestly unfounded”, which usually means that the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) thinks that you are not fleeing persecution but have come to find work. Whatever the reasons are, DHA must give you written reasons within five days of the rejection, not just stamp your passport with "V-list”.

The Norton Rose Fulbright Handbook on Refugee Law explains that this is because asylum seekers are granted the same Constitutional rights in terms of the Bill of Rights, except for the rights which are specifically granted only to citizens. One of these Constitutional rights is administrative justice (Section 33 of the Constitution). This means that any administrative action of an organ of state when exercising its public power or performing a public function must be lawful, reasonable and procedurally fair.

Le Roux Attorneys note that: “In practice, offending individuals are often told by the Department of Home Affairs (‘DHA’) that they have been placed on the ‘V-list’ or ‘No Entry List’ and no proper declaration of their prohibited status is ever communicated to them.”

Not to give you written reasons for making you a prohibited immigrant, as signified by the V in your passport, is not procedurally fair, and this should be mentioned in your appeal. The only way you can overturn the V decision by DHA is to appeal to the Director-General (DG) of DHA to overturn the decision if there is good cause. The DG has to take into account the reasons for making you a prohibited person, the seriousness of the offence and your personal circumstances. 

You would have to appeal in writing, giving the reasons why you think the DHA V listing was wrong.

Appeals must be sent to

You could ask the following organisations for advice and assistance:

  • Lawyers for Human Rights (Refugee and Migrant Rights Programme) at Johannesburg: 011 339 1960


  • Legal Resources Centre:


  • PASSOP: Cape Town 021 762 0322

Wishing you the best,

Answered on Jan. 17, 2023, 11:40 a.m.

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