Kenya, South Africa to Launch Long-term Multiple Travel Visas

Long-term visas will become available for South Africans wanting to travel to Kenya and Kenyans wanting to visit South Africa as of December 1.

The announcement was made by Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba and his Kenyan counterpart Interior Minister Fred Matiang’i on Monday after the two held bilateral talks and took a tour of Lindela Repatriation Centre in Krugersdorp.

In September Gigaba announced that South Africa would be easing some immigration rules including agreeing to visa waiver agreements with more countries in an effort to boost investment and tourism as part of a broader economic turnaround programme announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The two leaders said both countries would continue working on ways to maximise their cooperation and allowing for passport holders to have long-term multiple entry visa arrangements for business people, academics and frequent travellers between the two countries.

“It’s a historic achievement, we made tremendous progress,” said Matiang’i.

He said as of the arrangement would benefit both countries tremendously.

“This is intended to improve trade between the two countries, interaction between the two countries and to support the people between the two nations engaging in various economic activities of mutual benefit,” said Matiang’i.

He told journalists at the briefing that the east African country viewed its relationship with South Africa as critical and that the presidents of both countries – Ramaphosa and Uhuru Kenyatta – had instructed both ministers to work towards removing barriers and impediments to the growing relationship.

“And today we made a huge achievement in removing those barriers, whatever is left, we will be able to sort out in the next three months,” said Matiang’i.

Praise for Lindela

The Kenyan minister said he believed relaxing visa requirements would lead to the most “seamless interaction between South Africa and Kenya in history.”

Matiang’i also praised the repatriation centre, which he said was a “luxury” for deportees waiting to be processed and taken back to their respective countries.

“The minister has taken me through this facility, I am basically floored, shocked that South Africa actually makes this kind of investment to address the needs of deportees,” said Matiang’i.

South Africa’s home affairs minister, in turn, thanked Kenya for its efforts in preventing illegal immigrants from making their way to the country.

“I thanked the minister for the work they continue to do to repel a lot of illegal immigrants destined for South Africa, on a daily basis hundreds of people are being stopped in Kenya who are destined for South Africa,” said Gigaba.

He added that Kenya contributed to keeping the country safe.

Gigaba said the partnership would contribute to tourism in the two countries and support the visions shared by both Ramaphosa and Kenyatta for free movement of people between the countries.

He said academics and business people would be able to get ten-year visas, while frequent travellers would be able to apply for three-year multiple entry visas, a feat Gigaba said would also alleviate administrative pressure on their respective departments.

 

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

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

British High Commissioner Visits Police Station Six Times a Year due to SA’s Visa Rules for Children

The British High Commissioner to South Africa visits a police station at least six times a year – all because of SA’s rigorous travelling with children paperwork requirements.

“From a personal experience, it’s off-putting,” says British High Commissioner to South Africa Nigel Casey, having just had to do so recently when his children went back home.

The High Commissioner was speaking to Traveller24 at the British Airways launch event of the Durban Direct to London flight route, on Tuesday, 30 October.

While he is very excited about the new direct route calling it a “fantastic enabler” of tourism and business, he says South Africa must sort out this confusion around the travelling with minors regulation.

Typically it takes two weeks to get hold of the long form birth certificate for Brits. There is also an affidavit requirement when both parents are not travelling with the children and this needs to be signed or witnessed by a police officer or lawyer.

This all adds to the hassle and cost, says Casey, and “basically takes South Africa out of the market for short notice, quick decision last minute travel”.

As a result, UK citizens are opting to visit Thailand instead, simply because it’s easier.

In fact he says it “breaks his heart” that South Africa is pushing itself out of the last-minute holiday market – because people in the United Kingdom really want to come here, with an estimated 450k British visiting South Africa annually.

“As I said to the Home Minister and Tourism Minister last week at the investment summit, I know that there is so much more potential because a million Brits go to Thailand every year and as a direct competitor for winter breaks from the UK, South Africa has plenty of advantages.

“South Africa is in the same time zone, it has a lot to offer, and is very popular for the Brits who get here. If you wake up on a Monday morning and it’s raining in London and you decide you want to fly to South Africa with your kids on Friday, you’ve got a problem.

“I’m waiting eagerly to see what the details are when it is gazetted, I hope they’ll be very clear because the worst outcome would be ambiguous new regulations saying, well you don’t have to have these but we strongly advise you to have them.

British Airways confirmed it does not allow customers to travel to South Africa without these travel documents. If there is one thing the High Commissioner would like clarity it is this regulation going forward. “There are many people who make decisions about their holidays quite late on, and this will open up a whole new market.”

Hamish Erskine from Dube Trade Port in fact confirmed the new direct Durban route leveraged on analysis showing an average 100k British-based travellers made their way to SA and travelled through Durban annually, with clarity on the regulation for minors, certainly able to boost these figures.

Hamish Erskine from Dube TradePort confirmed new route leveraged on analysis showing average 100k British-based travellers making their way to SA and travelling through Durban.

Direct commercial gains

Overall the head of the British High commission – of which British Airways is one of its largest investors – is optimistic about the direct commercial gains via the cargo opportunities with this direct route.

“The link is going to really open up a lot of potential and possibilities and expansion for our existing relationship and I’m absolutely thrilled that it’s happening.”

Casey says it bodes well for business travel with a number of big British companies headquartered Durban – Unilever, Ilovo sugar (a big employer here and elsewhere in the region) Smith and Nephew, a pharmaceutical company. Also, a number of big British Companies which have headquarters elsewhere have subsidiaries here like Turner and Townsend being key examples.

Business and tourism enabler

“KwaZulu-Natal has a fantastic tourism offer, parts of it are known to people in the UK who have come to South Africa before. But there is an important job to be done in selling the KZN offer and marketing it quite aggressively in the UK because really you have everything South Africa offers in one place.

“Beaches, diving, game parks, hiking in the Drakensberg, you’ve got history of the battle fields and it’s all in one place. The fact that people can now fly here rather than have to fly into Joburg, fly or drive down, saves a lot of time and a significant chunk to any ones holiday. It is going to be huge selling point for the city.”

But if anything British Airways has shown its commitment to the South African market as a whole.

The airline flies a twice-daily service from Heathrow to Johannesburg and daily to Cape Town year-round, having recently increasing its service between London and Johannesburg to 18 flights a week. It also doubles the Cape Town schedule during the South African summer season and also adds three weekly flights from Gatwick.

Paolo de Renzis, Commercial Manager for Europe, Corporate Sales and Africa, Levant at British Airways & Iberia says there is also the possibility to expand the direct Durban offering going forward. Surprisingly, De Renzis does not foresee any negative impact for the Comair operated British Airways domestic route from Joburg to Durban, which would usually be the connector for travellers from the UK.

BA’s new direct flight to Durban set to grow business and leisure travel. Paolo de Renzis, British Airways & Iberia commercial manager for Africa says he does not foresee it impacting domestic Comair – Joburg to Durban capacity.

Sihle Zikalala, Minister for the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs says, “Having direct flights between Durban and London will undoubtedly spur growth in both tourism and trade for both destinations. We are certain that South Africans will embrace the opportunities offered by the direct flights from Durban ensuring that we fully benefit from these new connections.

General Manager of King Shaka International Terence Delomeny confirmed Durban is poised to exceed the 6 million international mark and show a significant 8% annual growth in passenger numbers.

British Airways is offering a launch special from Durban with discounts of to 11% on return fares. World Traveller launch fares start from R7 740.

 

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

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: Blake Guidry [1], [2].

Minister Malusi Gigaba Officially Re-opens Port Elizabeth Refugee Reception Centre

Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba, on Friday officially re-opened the Port Elizabeth Refugee Reception Centre, which is now housed in a new building.

In 2011, the Department of Home Affairs closed the Port Elizabeth Refugee Reception Centre after apparently uncovering abuse of the system by migrants.

It had also argued that it made sense that new asylum seekers make their applications at South Africa’s ports of entry – and not when they are already inside the country. It also pointed out that most asylum seekers did not use Port Elizabeth as a point of entry.

However, the Supreme Court of Appeals ruled that the closure of the centre was unconstitutional following a legal challenge brought by human rights activists. That is despite the centre serving a relatively small percentage of asylum seekers.

Still, the closure left many local refugees and asylum holders in despair as they were forced to travel to Pretoria regularly for their asylum checks.

Home Affairs tried to appeal the ruling, which was dismissed with costs by the Constitutional Court.

Thereafter, the Department of Home Affairs together with the Department of Public Works decided on a new location to build the new office with assistance from the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality.

Port Elizabeth Refugee Reception Office opened

Home Affairs Director-General, Mkuseli Apleni, officially opened part of the centre in June 2018, which has been operating ever since, but new applications were not accepted.

Following the opening on Friday by Gigaba, from Monday morning new asylum seekers and refugees will be allowed to use the state-of-the art Refugee Centre.

“Refuges are properly documented – for one to be called a ‘refugee’, by law, they must have undergone the process of status determination, which commenced with asylum applications,” Gigaba said in his address.

“Not all immigrants are refugees, but all refugees are immigrants, and whereas there are some immigrants, who may not be documented, but it is blatantly untrue that all immigrants in South Africa are undocumented and thus ‘illegal’.”

Economic migrants

He added that as government they aim to strengthen the capacity to manage the challenges to the asylum system occasioned by the number of economic migrants, who take advantage of the asylum seeker process to regularize their stay in South Africa.

Speaking on behalf of all refugees, Nassir Musa, from the East London Refugees Association, said: “This centre is going to help to ease the constraints we had on the previous office because there was not enough space and were having difficulties in assisting the asylum seekers.”

Although Musa hasn’t used the centre yet since it was opened in June, he said that he was very excited, adding that it was a top-class refugee centre.

Speaking for the Eastern Cape refugee centre that deals with social cohesion and migrants, Sweetness Spullen, said: “We receive a lot of complaints from refugees and asylum seekers, who were depending on other Provinces for their needs.

“This will make their lives easy because now they will be able to get services here.”

 

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

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

Relocation Africa will be Attending SARA Conference 2018

Relocation Africa is looking forward to attending this year’s SARA Conference as an exhibitor. The conference will take place at the Wanderers Club in Johannesburg,  South Africa, from 1 to 2 November 2018.

This year’s conference will focus on the LIMITLESS impact that total reward practitioners can have on the success of their organisations, society and country at large. The South African Rewards Association will also have its Reward Awards Banquet on 3 November.

The conference will host a number of interesting seminars, including:

  • Unlocking the limitless opportunities of our youth for our companies, society and the nation.
  • AI and the Evolution of HR.
  • The Moral Underground – how ordinary citizens change our futures.
  • Economist: SA and the world – risks, challenges and opportunities.

We invite all attendees to stop by our exhibition stand: R04. We will also be hosting a professional photographer next to our stand, who will be taking free photographs of conference attendees, which they will be able to use for their websites, LinkedIn profiles, and so forth.

To view the conference program, click here. For more information about the SARA conference, click here.

To arrange to meet with our Director, Rene Stegmann, or our Immigration Director, Tracy du Plessis, during the conference, email marketing@relocationafrica.com.

 

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

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

SA Constitutional Court Issues Asylum Seeker Ruling

An application for leave to appeal against a decision of the Supreme Court of Appeal was settled this week in South Africa’s Constitutional Court. The case concerns the question whether asylum seekers, including those whose applications for refugee status have been refused, are eligible to apply for other visas and immigration permits in terms of the Immigration Act. The applicants also sought an order setting aside a Department of Home Affairs (Department) directive, Immigration Directive 21 of 2015 (Directive), which requires Departmental functionaries to refuse all applications for temporary and permanent residence visas made by the holder of an asylum seeker permit.

The order issued is as follows:

  • Leave to appeal is granted.
  • The appeal is upheld and the order of the Supreme Court of Appeal is set aside.
  • To the extent that Immigration Directive 21 of 2015, issued by the Director-General of the Department of Home Affairs on 3 February 2016, imposes a blanket ban on asylum seekers from applying for visas without provision for an exemption application under section 31(2)(c) of the Immigration Act 13 of 2002, it is declared inconsistent with the Immigration Act 13 of 2002 and invalid.
  • To the extent that Immigration Directive 21 of 2015, issued by the Director-General of the Department of Home Affairs on 3 February 2016, prohibits asylum seekers from applying for permanent residence permits while inside the Republic of South Africa, it is declared inconsistent with Regulation 23 of the Immigration Regulations, 2014 published under Government Notice R413 in Government Gazette 37697 of 22 May 2014 and invalid.
  • There is no order as to costs.

While this is good news for SA’s asylum seekers, it remains to be seen what the Department of Home Affairs’ reaction to the judgement will be.

To read the full case details, click here.

 

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

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].