Advise your clients: South Africans still need visas for the US!

South African passport holders still require a visa for travel to the United States, the US Consulate in Johannesburg has confirmed.

A hoax news article, which is spreading rapidly on social media, states that President Donald Trump has wavered visa requirements for South Africans travelling to the US to ‘strengthen ties between the US and South Africa’.

“This is a fake report: nothing has changed in terms of visa requirements for South Africans travelling to the United States,” a spokesperson for the US Consulate told ASATA.

The fake news website where the article was originally published ‘’ also states that Mauritius was shamed as the most unfriendly country in the world by the World Tourism Organisation and that Ethiopia has banned all marriages until 2018. Needless to say, neither of these articles is true.

Numerous ‘fake’ news articles have circulated over the past few months. The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) last year even issued an alert to readers to beware “an alarming trend by fake news websites to publish inaccurate information under the guise of news”.

Travel agents are advised to consult TIMATIC if they have any doubts with regards to the truthfulness of visa reports. TIMATIC will assist travel agents will the latest up-to-date passport and visa information.

There are also certain telltale signs that news reports are fake. Head of policy at Media Monitoring Africa Thandi Smith was recently quoted in Huffington Post South Africa as saying there are 5 signs that people should be on the look-out for.

1) Check the URL and make sure it is in line with the news page or media house. A fake news site can sometimes have a number in it instead of letters to create confusion.

2) Check the spelling of the account name. Although it might look legitimate, the accounts are often not spelled correctly, or have alternative spellings.

3) A genuine article will usually have sources and people that you can research. Google the names. A fake news site will have anonymous sources.

4) Reputable media houses will have credible adverts on their pages. Fake news sites often have pornographic adverts. That should raise red flags.

5) Research the author of the article you’re reading. Use Google to see other works produced by the journalist named. That will give you an indication of the authenticity of the story.