Signs of Renewed Expat, Foreigner Interest in SA Housing Market

Due to improved sentiment about South Africa, it would not be surprising to see an increasing demand for SA residential property among foreigners and SA expats, according to John Loos, household and property sector strategist at First National Bank.

This is despite demand levels for SA domestic property from foreigners and SA expats being down significantly compared to 2015 and 2016, according to the FNB Estate Agent Survey for the first quarter of this year.

Estate agents surveyed estimated that 4.3% of total home buying for the two quarters up to and including the first quarter of 2018 was by foreigners.

The survey estimated that the percentage of SA homes being bought by SA expats was 1.51% of homes in the first quarter of 2018, after declining since 2015.

The survey also indicated that the number of buyers from other parts of Africa purchasing residential property in SA has slowed faster than overall foreigner home buying here in recent years. For Loos this could arguably reflect tougher African economic conditions compared to those in more developed countries in recent years.

The estate agents’ estimates about a weakening demand among foreigners and SA expats throughout 2017 reflected “dampened investor sentiment” towards SA in general, according to Loos.

In his view, this was likely caused by the stagnation of SA’s economy over a number of years, uncertainty about the SA government’s future economic policy, and “negative news” about the country such as sovereign rating downgrades to “junk status”.

“However, we have started 2018 with a noticeably more positive mood in South Africa, partly due to the political leadership change in the country following the ruling party’s elective conference in December 2017,” said Loos.

Positivity has also been reflected in a stronger rand and a rise in the RMB-BER Business Confidence Index in the first quarter of 2018.

“We will wait for further quarterly surveys before concluding that foreigner and expat buying levels are picking up meaningfully or not,” said Loos.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, and Remuneration needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: Fin24 [1]. Image sources: [1].

Cape Refugee Centre To Be Reopened

Home Affairs Director-General Mkuseli Apleni says the department will comply with the 2017 Supreme Court order to reopen the Cape Town Refugee Reception Centre.

Last year, the Supreme Court ordered the department to reopen and maintain the Refugee Reception Centre in Cape Town. In its judgement, the court held that the closure was ‘irrational and unlawful.’

The Cape Town Refugee Reception Centre, which was closed in 2012, was at that time the second busiest Refugee Reception Centre in the country.

Addressing the media in Tshwane on Tuesday, Apleni said the department has begun complying with the court order.

“The Department of Home Affairs has no intention to disregard the judicial directive and we will duly respect the judgment. In this regard, we have commenced with plans to comply with the order,” Apleni said.

Apleni said the department has allocated a budget within the ambits of the current baseline.

“We have prioritised the funding and filing of key posts to get the centre operational. However, the department is dependent on Public Works to provide suitable office accommodation.

“To this end, we have engaged the Department of Public Works which, in turn, has issued a procurement instruction to their regional office in Cape Town,” Apleni said.

He said the Department of Public Works provided a project execution plan on 6 April 2018.

“The department will continue to uphold its constitutional obligation to those in need of protection from any form of persecution,” he said.

The Western Cape High Court had initially favoured the Department of Home Affairs to close the refugee office in Cape Town. The Scaralbini centre appealed the matter at the Supreme Court of Appeals, which ruled in their favour.

The Cape Town Refugee Reception Centre was established in 2000 as one of five Centres in terms of section 8.1 of the Refugees Act.

The Supreme Court of Appeal also instructed the Department of Home Affairs to furnish the court with monthly updates on the progress regarding the re-opening of the RRO.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, and Remuneration needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: Town Press [1]. Image sources: [1].

Plans to Improve OR Tambo Immigration Services

Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba says he plans to meet with Transport Minister Blade Nzimande over plans for Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) to deal with long queues and other issues at immigration at the OR Tambo International Airport.

Gigaba held a meeting with officials at the airport on Wednesday morning and walked over to the immigration point of entry.

Gigaba has told ACSA and OR Tambo International management that he doesn’t want to be persuaded against launching pilot projects that could improve services at the airport.

“I’m saying all of this as a way of telling you what I want to see happening. I can’t be persuaded against that.”

Gigaba says plans which include technological systems to eliminate long queues at points were supposed to be implemented during the next financial year, but he wants them to go live sooner.

“Initially the delay was on our side, but I would like them to be brought forward so that we can start piloting them and ensure that we provide quality service to our clients.”

These systems include e-visas, which will enable travellers to apply for visas online, and e-gates, which will allow self-service at airports.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, and Remuneration needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: Masego Rahlaga (EWN) [1]. Image sources: [1].

ID and Cellphone Numbers Leaked on SA Home Affairs Website

A flaw in the Department of Home Affairs website has exposed the details of people attempting to contact the department.

A MyBroadband reader contacted us regarding the issue, after he said several attempts by him to contact the department and alert them to the matter failed.

He found that on the website’s Ask Us page, users were required to complete a form to lodge a query with Home Affairs.

The form requires users to input the following details:

First name
Last name
ID or case number
Cellphone number
Detailed query
It also requires users to complete a reCaptcha form before submitting their details, which at the time of writing was displaying the following error message:

reCAPTCHA V1 IS SHUTDOWN
Direct site owners to g.co/recaptcha/upgrade

Details leaked

When loading the web page, it occasionally delivered a JavaScript error warning before displaying the page and submission form.

However, on these occasions the form was already completed with the details of a previous user – allowing anyone to view their name, ID/case number, cellphone number, and the nature of their query.

MyBroadband managed to replicate this issue multiple times, and each time we were presented with the personal details of a person’s query submission.

A redacted screenshot of the form information exposed due to this issue is shown below.

It is unclear how many users were exposed in this manner, and if the reCaptcha issue was the cause of the data leak.

Home Affairs – No comment

MyBroadband reached out to the Department of Home Affairs for comment on the matter, but it did not respond. The Ask Us web page on the Home Affairs website has been taken offline following the publication of MyBroadband’s report.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, and Remuneration needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: Jamie McKane (MyBroadband) [1]. Image sources: [1], [2].

Temporary Visas Available to South Africans in 2018: Categories and Prices

Over the years, countries around the world have changed their visa policies and rates, in accordance with many factors, such as global and local economies, political preferences, migrant crises, and tourism sector performance.

Below you can find the costs for applying for a visa in 2018 in a number of countries that are popular among temporary workers, travelers, students, and business visitors.

The below prices do not include delivery fees and other fees as part of each country’s application process.

United Kingdom (info)

The United Kingdom offers visas in a number of different categories, including Standard Visitor visas (granting entry for between 6 months and 10 years), a number of Business Visas, and a variety of Special Visitor Visas.

United States (info)

A popular class for US visas is Class B, which may grant an applicant entry into the country for up to 10 years. A variety of other temporary visas are available, each with their own periods of validity. Other classes for the US include Transit, Study, and Work.

New Zealand (info)

Outside of its temporary visa class, which may grant an individual entry for up to 9 months, New Zealand has a Limited Visa class. With a Limited Visa, you can visit New Zealand temporarily, to achieve an express purpose. Once you’ve achieved your purpose, you must leave New Zealand. You can’t usually apply for other visas while in New Zealand on a Limited Visa, although you may be granted another Limited Visa in keeping with a need to spend more time in the country for the express purpose that the initial visa was granted for.

Australia (info)

Australia offers temporary visas across a number of categories. These include Tourist and Business Visitors, Working Holidays, Medical Treatment, Transit, Student, Training, and Temporary Work Sponsorship. Online applications are available through the government’s ImmiAccount system.

Approved Destination Status (ADS) is an arrangement between the Chinese Government and another country, that lets Chinese holiday travellers visit a country in a tour group.

The eVisitor program allows those with a passport in certain countries to obtain a Visit Visa for free. The list of eligible countries can be found here.

An Australian Study Visa is for those who wish to study full-time in a recognised education institution. A Training Visa is for those who wish to take part in workplace-based training to enhance their skills in their current occupation, area of tertiary study, field of expertise; or participate in a professional development training program.

A Temporary Activities Visa allows entry for specific activities, each with their own assigned duration. A list of such activities can be found here.

A Bridging Visa can be granted for someone who has applied for an associated substantive visa through ImmiAccount, for which a decision has not yet been made.

United Arab Emirates (info)

The visit visa or entry permit into the UAE requires sponsorship from a citizen, resident or investor. Nationals and residents in the UAE can apply online and acquire 90-day /30-day UAE entry permits or visit visas for their families, friends and relatives through the Ministry’s website- eServices section and the UAE-MOI app on smartphones.

If you have relatives or friends residing in the UAE, they can sponsor your non-electronic UAE visa. They can apply for your entry permit at the office of and the relevant General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) under Ministry of Interior. Its office is located in each emirate. Links to the local GDRFA offices can be found here.

Tourist visa is a special category of visa under visit visa, which could be obtained for eligible individual tourists around the world. The visa permits the holder to stay for duration of 30 days. The visa requires sponsorship of UAE airlines, hotels and tour operators who bring in visitors. The renewal and visa processing fee of tourist visas depends on travel agency that covers for you. Information about Emirates visa services can be found here, and information about Etihad visa services can be found here.

The Service Visa applies to the following categories and their families accompanying them: company manager’s representatives, sales managers, account auditors, company or establishment delegations required to carry out a commercial activity in the UAE, consultants requested by companies operating in the UAE that are required to carry out an urgent task.

Finally, the UAE’s airlines handle 4-day transit visas, valid for 14 days from the date of issue.

Shengen (info)

A Shengen visa covers members of the European Union (except the United Kingdom) and a number of other countries. Member states are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Liechtenstein. Countries including Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, and Ireland are soon to be part of the agreement.

Some tips when applying for visas include:

  • Checking whether there are multiple ways to apply, with different fees, such as is the case in the UAE.
  • Making sure you have all the required documents ready (check the number of copies needed).
  • Taking along multiple forms of ID, just in case.
  • Ensuring that the website you are using to apply through is legitimate. Scam sites are an unfortunate reality.
  • Scheduling any appointments on a day when you have some extra time, in case things take longer than expected.
  • Noting the duration that the visa you are applying for allows you to stay in the country you are visiting, and how long it is valid for.

Happy travelling!

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, and Remuneration needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Image sources: Igor Ovsyannykov (via Unsplash) [1].