SA gives BRICS port of entry visas – Feb 26 2015

Cape Town – Business and diplomatic travellers from South Africa’s Brics partners – Brazil, Russia, India and China – are to receive a port of entry visa into South Africa, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said on Thursday.

Malusi Gigaba

Malusi Gigaba

“… I have approved the issuance of port of entry visas to Brics business executives for up to 10 years, with each visit not to exceed 30 days,” he told the Cape Town Press Club.

The visas had been in effect since December 23 last year.

“This applies to diplomatic, official or service, and ordinary passport holders.”

Gigaba said the relevant individuals would receive a long-term visa allowing them multiple entry into the country for the duration of the passport’s validity, not exceeding 10 years.

The department would continue to meet a turnaround time of five days for short-term business visas.

It had consulted extensively with the Brics business council and the trade and industry department.

Gigaba said the four countries presented an “important investment potential”.

Together with South Africa, the countries comprised 40% of the world’s population.

 

“Business people from Brazil, Russia, India, and China want to come to our country, buy and sell an increasing array of products and services, and invest in our companies and growth sectors,” he said.

“At home affairs we are completely committed to enabling this by facilitating the efficient entry of these commercial visitors, and will continually look for opportunities to improve in this regard.”

Gigaba smiled when asked if his announcement would anger countries that had a long-established trading relationship with South Africa.

“No, every good thing must start somewhere,” he said.

The same arrangement might well be extended to other countries who had “significant investments” locally.

“These are issues that you undertake as you improve your systems.”

Visa law review to help boost tourism – February 20 2015 – Cape Times  Melanie Gosling

SOUTH Africa’s visa regulations will be reviewed to ensure the stringent requirements do not become an obstacle to unlocking the massive tourism potential, Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom said yesterday.

Speaking at Kirstenbosch to mark the botanical gardens’ milestone of attracting more than a million visitors last year, Hanekom said South Africa’s visa requirements needed to strike a balance between protecting the country and helping combat crimes like human trafficking, while ensuring these measures did not negatively affect tourism.

“We will be carefully examining the whole visa requirement issue, finding the right balance,” Hanekom said at a media briefing.

With him was TalebRifai, secretary-general of the UN’s World Tourism Organisation, who echoed Hanekom’s views on visa regulations, but said he was not suggesting South Africa compromise on safeguarding the country.

“We’re on the side of homeland ministers and the security people, but they should not make it a nightmare for visitors to get a visa,” said Rifai.

He questioned the wisdom of South Africa’s visa requirements, which meant “every tourist from China or Russia or other rising markets have to travel to embassies, pay more money, sit there, standing in lines” to apply for a visa to visit South Africa.

The country’s visa requirements, introduced in May, mean tourists have to present themselves for “in-person biometric data collection” when applying for a visa. This has met with criticism from the tourism industry.

Rifai said visitors to Australia could buy a visa online.

David Scowsill, chief executive of the World Travel and Tourism Council, said the US had recognised the negative economic impact of their stringent visa requirements and were changing them.

“Since 9/11, the US has lost $600 billion in tourism because their State Department was not issuing visas, they were treating everyone as terrorists.” Scowsill said the US tourism industry had made sure President Barack Obama knew about the losses, with the result that there had been a change in US visa requirements in the last three years.

“You have an enormous opportunity to grow tourism in South Africa, you have everything which an international tourist can enjoy, but there are some practical issues which you need to fix. One is a visa system which inhibits people from coming to see this country,” Scowsill echoed.

Another was encouraging other airlines to South Africa. He understood the dilemma of wanting to support the national carrier, while seeing the need to bring in other airlines, but it was one which needed to be resolved.

He believed South Africa should develop an “open-skies” agreement with other African countries with high tourism potential, such as Tanzania.

Western Cape MEC for Tourism Alan Winde said tourism was the fastest-growing sector in the province and had grown by 7.8 percent in the last five years. Tourism jobs were “great multipliers”, with several indirect jobs being created for every direct job in tourism

http://www.iol.co.za/capetimes/visa-law-review-to-help-boost-tourism-1.1821144#.VObrYCxPlKo

Zuma clips Gigaba’s wings : February 13th, 2015 by Andrew Moth 

GigabaOn a night when there were no winners, the biggest loser during President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation Address in Parliament last night was Malusi Gigaba, the Minister of Home Affairs.

Under fire for months because of the department’s visa regulations that discourage foreign leisure and business travel to South Africa, Gigaba sat stony-faced as Zuma announced a review of visa regulations.

Zuma said: “To attract foreign skills for our growing economy we will dialogue with various stakeholders on the migration policy. We will also prioritize the review of visa regulations to strike a balance between national security and growth in tourism.”

Zuma struck a second blow at the Department of Home Affairs later in his address when he announced that banks will become involved in the ambitious programme to issue new smart ID cards to all residents of South Africa.

It is widely accepted that the Department of Home Affairs is one of the most dysfunctional government departments. Staff in its offices work in appalling conditions and are overwhelmed by mountains of paperwork and by the fact that many people who need assistance cannot speak, read or write any of South Africa’s official languages.

Showing that he has no faith that the department will be able to manage the task of issuing new ID documents to tens of millions of people, Zuma said: “To further improve access to identity documents, citizens will from this year be able to apply for the new smart ID card at their local bank due to partnership between the Department of Home Affairs and some banks in the country.”

Once seen as a highflier destined for great things, Gigaba has been Minister of Home Affairs since May 2014 but it appears that Zuma has lost confidence and patience in him and the Department of Home Affairs’ most senior officials.

Another controversial part of Zuma’s address concerned his hopes for foreign investment, it is difficult to reconcile these expectations with the fact that foreigners will no longer be able to invest in property in South Africa as he announced last night. It is not clear how that will affect foreign businesses and individuals who currently own land in South Africa.

Intra-Company transfer visas in order to continue international assignments

The communication serves as a policy directive with regard to the extension of international assignments, as well as to deal with subsequent international assignments.

 

 

Please read the following link for the official directive no 19 of 2014.

Intra-Company Transfer Visa

SA’s dysfunctional work permit system – Mangosuthu Buthelezi

prince-mangosuthu-buthelezi

IFP leader writes on the obstacles placed on employers trying to bring in skilled labour from abroad

 Dear friends and fellow South Africans,

Having served as Minister of Home Affairs for the first ten years of democracy, I retain a keen interest in migration issues, particularly as they affect the economic growth and development of our country. I was therefore concerned when last year’s legislative amendments to the Immigration Act included a requirement that could only obstruct the entry of skilled workers and ultimately deter investment.

It seems that legislative amendments by the Department of Home Affairs, and delays in administrative justice by the Department of Labour, have ensured that skilled foreigners applying to work in South Africa face a long and uphill battle.

When the Immigration Amendment Act came into effect in May 2014, several immediate problems caught the spotlight. Some were ‘resolved’ by delaying implementation, such as the need to obtain full unabridged birth certificates when travelling with one’s children. Other problems, however, are escalating.

One such problem is the need for work visa applicants to obtain a certificate from the Department of Labour that effectively confirms that no South African could do what they are being hired to do, and that they are not going to do it for less money or under worse conditions than a South African would.

When I entered Home Affairs in 1994, immigration legislation required a complete transformation, for it was predicated on the apartheid mind-set of keeping everyone out unless they fit a narrow and racist description of “desirable”. The laws we inherited were woefully incapable of bringing skills and investment into a democratic South Africa at the speed and to the extent that we both needed and sought.

Among the many challenges and obstacles we were confronted with as we engaged immigration reform was the fact that the Department of Labour was ill-equipped to certify that each and every foreigner applying for a work permit had the required skills and would not be taking a job away from a South African. This had to be determined another way, which was more efficient and shifted the administrative burden onto the employer themselves.

Thus we inserted the requirement for an employer to prove that no suitable South African could be found to fill the position they intended to fill with an appropriately skilled foreigner. This was achieved by advertising the position. The mere fact that an employer would accept a greater administrative burden to employ a foreigner than they would to employ a citizen suggested that a need did in fact exist for the skills that foreigner provided.

Thus, under the legislation I piloted, the Labour certification was removed and work permits were expeditiously issued.

Unfortunately, the Department of Home Affairs has seen fit to bring back the requirement for a certificate from the Department of Labour, while retaining the burden on the employer to advertise and prove the need to employ a foreigner.

Unfortunately, again, the Department of Labour is still ill-equipped to provide certifications and is struggling to cope with a backlog of applications for certificates. Without the certificate, a work visa application cannot be submitted. Thus months are being added onto what is already a drawn out process. Not surprisingly, skilled workers move on, taking their skills where they are both needed and wanted.

But there is an added dimension to the problem at the Department of Labour. On 12 December 2014, the Johannesburg Regional Office of the Department suddenly stopped accepting applications. That section “closed”. A printed notice was simply placed flat on a counter-top saying, “Please note that submission of applications is closed and will re-open on the 12th January 2015. Thank you.”

Nevertheless, on 12 January 2015, applicants were turned away by security who explained that the relevant section was “still closed”.

In terms of administrative justice and the responsibilities of Government, one wonders how an office of a government department can summarily close, without any notice, for a full month, presumably for the holiday season. Is South Africa only interested in economic growth and development for 11 months of the year?

Work visa applicants have had to wait a full month just to be able to request a certificate, and will still need to wait while the backlog of certificates is processed before theirs can be issued. Only then can they apply for the actual visa at Home Affairs.

This, really, is the tail end of a lengthy process, considering that the position must first be advertised and applicants vetted, a police clearance certificate must be obtained, proof of qualifications must be evaluated by SAQA and translated by a sworn translator, and the employer must provide several written undertakings as well as a contract that is conditional on the work visa being granted.

It would be fair for skilled foreigners to question whether Government is intentionally obstructing their entry into South Africa. But it seems more likely that Government has simply fallen into the trap, yet again, of adding more bureaucracy in the misguided belief that it will close all the loopholes. In truth, the greater the administrative burden on Government, the less efficient the process becomes.

If we want greater economic growth and development in South Africa, we need to empower individuals and civil society, rather than deferring all power and responsibilities to the State.

Yours in the service of our nation,

Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP

Issued by the IFP, January 14 2015