SA’s revised visa rules: What you need to know

Cape Town – South Africa is overhauling its controversial visa regulations that saw a 6% decrease in arrivals, the worst industry performance since 2009 at the height of the global financial crisis – but the changes are not in effect as yet.

The Cabinet approved recommendations by the Inter Ministerial Committee (IMC) tasked with evaluating the immigration rules and its unintended consequences are expected to be implemented during the next three months.

Cabinet said all other administrative issues affecting the relevant departments will be resolved through inter-departmental engagements, without compromising the safety of the children travelling to and from the country.

Introduced in June, the new rules required visitors to apply for visas in person at South African embassies to have their biometric information taken as well for children travelling in and out of South Africa to produce an unabridged birth certificate, which details the particulars of both the mother and the father of the child.

IMC DECISION TAKEN: Visa requirements for foreigners travelling to SA revised

  • In countries where there is no South African mission, the department of home affairs will accept applications by post.
  • This will apply for tourist and medical visitors only.
  • Postal applications will see biometrics of travellers, including finger prints and photos, captured on arrival at ports of entry.
  • Biometric pilot site ports of entry are OR Tambo Airport, King Shaka Airport, Cape Town International Airport.
  • Countries like China, India and Russia, certain measures will be put in place to ease the process of application, in particular for tourists.
  • South African children travelling out of the country will still be required to submit the current child-travel requirements, including a parental consent affidavits as a means to protect the minors
  • The validity of this affidavit will be extended to no longer than 6 months.
  • Details of parents will also be printed in passports, so that parents whose particulars are printed would therefore not be required to carry the birth certificates. (However the DHA advises that this form of identification still be carried as a form of proof.
  • For inbound travellers, the proof of original birth certificates or certified copies would only be required during the application process, as this is in line with practise in many other countries. (As is the case with the South African Children travelling in and out of South Africa, the DHA advises that this form of identification still be carried and will reserve the right to investigate suspected child trafficking on a case by case basis.)
  • Cabinet also approved changing the term “unabridged birth certificate” to “birth certificate containing parental details”.
  • DHA is also considering long-term multiple entry visas for frequent travellers.

The DHA said, “Cabinet has mandated DHA to put in place the necessary legal instruments to give effect to this decision. The status quo will remain until such time the DHA has provided a legal instrument for this category of travellers. In the meantime travellers are encouraged to comply.”

This article was originally posted here

 

Feeling out of your comfort zone? How to gently stretch yourself

butterflies

Moving to a foreign country inevitably throws you into situations you’ve never experienced before – whether it’s a new language, unfamiliar social etiquette, or the loss of your favourite home comforts. Yet every time we move beyond our comfort zone, we grow, build our confidence, strengthen our resilience. Often we surprise ourselves with what we can achieve!
Psychologist Katie Reindl shares five tips that’ll help you become more comfortable with the uncomfortable…

When you’re on the edge of your comfort zone…

Do you remember the first time you felt butterflies in your stomach? Maybe it was right before you had to give a speech – or was it before your first job interview? I still remember my first experience… I was six years old and my dad was driving me to my first piano recital. I remember feeling confused: I was excited to get to my destination, but I also wanted the car to slow down because I felt anxious. How could a negative and a positive emotion collide like that?

Fortunately my dad put words to my emotions by asking, “Do you have butterflies?” Being so young, I took him literally. “What is he talking about?!” I thought. Seeing the confusion on my face, he explained the flurry of sensations – like butterflies unfolding and fluttering their wings – when we feel uncomfortable. Little did I know that this mix of feelings was something I’d experience many more times in my life.

Have you ever heard the saying “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone?”

As expats, in a “foreign” environment and ripped from our everyday comforts, we are brought back to these feelings over and over again. A wise friend warned me prior to my voyage from North America to Europe that I’d experience this a lot – and often! – in my new environment. I didn’t believe him until I stepped onto the cobblestones of the Prinsengracht in Amsterdam, where I was about to set up my new home.

At first, when you feel the butterflies, your immediate reaction is to run away or resist (the classic “flight or fight” survival mechanism). As easy as it would be to seal the lid on the jar holding those butterflies, and to run away from the discomfort that a foreign experience creates, is this what we really want? No, we want to grow… and to learn how to work through these uncomfortable times. For it’s true that when we are placed in new situations, our body and mind start to flourish and ignite.

So the next time you come face-to-face with the uncomfortable, remember these 5 tips:

1. AWARENESS: Get in touch with what you are feeling – physically too! Your body provides essential information about your inner world. Acknowledge your body’s responses – like those butterflies – for they are a resource to help you trust yourself through this new experience.

2. FEELING: Understand your emotions and what is driving them. Step back and think about why you are feeling the specific emotions you’re experiencing.

3. MEANING: Think about the value of working through this stressor and what meaning you may eventually gain from this experience.

4. MINDSET: Turn your fear response into courage. Trust that you have the strength and confidence you need to execute this task.

5. REFLECT: Take time for reflection, either via a journal or telling a friend about your experience.

Remember that some days will be better than others, so don’t get down on yourself if you just want to run away. Return to the pointers above and you’ll be taking the first step towards turning these stressful situations into opportunities to grow your own wings.

“Let’s set the butterflies free today… try something to make your butterflies come alive. You don’t have anything to lose.”
“What if I fall?”
“Oh but my darling what if you fly…”
~Erin Hanson

 

This article was originally posted by Expat Nest here

Malusi Gigaba’s unabridged loss is South Africa’s victory by Stephen Grootes

Last Friday was a day to remember. Students will remember it for their victory over the government, President Jacob Zuma will remember it as the day he was forced to cave in, and the African National Congress for their inability to successfully hijack a march. But for South Africa’s tourism industry it was a red letter day; the day the industry was saved. And for South Africa’s economy it was the day proper governance won out against massive egos and dark, impenetrable threats about ‘national security’. For Malusi Gigaba, it was a day of personal humiliation. By STEPHEN GROOTES.

There are many beautiful places in the world to visit. South Africa is indeed a stunningly beautiful country. But not the only one in the world. And it is on the other side of the world. It does not take a genius to understand that we don’t need to make visitors’ lives more difficult than they already are.

Six months ago we warned Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba he was going to have a huge battle on his hands around his insistence on new travel regulations. We said he was going up against not just one industry but several, and that the combined weight of the airline, tourism and travel industries would be ranged against him. Later, when Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom broke Cabinet protocol and went public with his criticism of the regulations, this writer suggested Gigaba might win out, not because he was right – and he was catastrophically wrong – but simply because he appeared to have more power within African National Congress (ANC) structures.

That was despite the fact it was clearly insane to demand that people wanting to travel here first travel thousands of miles to the nearest South African facility to apply for the biometric visa, that it was virtually unprecedented to declare that children must have their unabridged birth certificates with them as well as their passports, and that the damage to our economy was plain and visible for all to see.

But, on Friday, the Cabinet proved both Gigaba, and this writer, very wrong. In a long and complex statement, it revealed that almost all of the new regulations were being dropped. In a lengthy release, it was explained that some changes are being introduced immediately, some over the next three months, and some over the next year or so.

There are many changes, but at the risk of over-simplification:

  • the demand for unabridged birth certificates to be brought with children coming here is being quietly dropped (but people will be urged to bring them, and will have to use them to apply for visas);
  • those needing visas will be able to apply through the postal service or use an accredited tourism company, depending on where they are; and
  • biometric information will be captured at international airports as they arrive.

Crucially, the demand that South African children travelling out of the country must have their unabridged birth certificates will remain, but the wording around the document will be changed, to make it slightly easier. And school principals and those running sports teams will be able to sign consent forms to allow the children out of the country.

The Department of Home Affairs was quick to rush out a statement, explaining how it “welcomed” the changes, and agreed with the Cabinet on the major issues. But it was the reaction of the tourism bodies that showed how much of a victory this was for them, and the scale of the defeat for Gigaba. Tourism Business Council chairperson Mavuso Msimang (who had previously been scathing in his criticism of Gigaba in the way that only a former Home Affairs director-general could be) congratulated and thanked the Cabinet, explaining that this is pretty much exactly what they wanted. He said it showed the “patriotism and maturity” of ministers. Other tourism figures echoed those comments, saying that now the job of rebuilding had to start. No doubt they celebrated as the students did on Friday night, just with slightly more expensive tipples.

Up until Friday’s statement, it had appeared that Gigaba had the upper hand. In public, he had been both bombastic and personal in his defence of the regulations. He had claimed that the rapid decline in visitor numbers was due to the tourism industry’s “failure to market the country” correctly. There were claims from his department that the tourism industry “was putting money above children”, with the implication that they would be happier making money than preventing children being trafficked. And there was the comment that revealed that the department was making a complete mistake of governance, by saying that the regulations, and their financial cost, would all be justified, if it stopped just one child from being trafficked through the country.

Of course, Gigaba was completely missing the point that governance is all about quantifying risks, and managing competing interests and problems. Missing from his rhetoric was any hint of reasonableness, or link to reality: there was no acceptance of our porous borders, of how easy it is to move between South Africa and, say Zimbabwe or Mozambique, without bothering with a border post.

All in all, this was bad politics. Every time he spoke on this issue, Gigaba raised the stakes for himself, he painted himself into a corner by refusing to accept any criticism of the regulations, and he came across as uncaring and not prepared to listen. It was his way or the highway. Which makes his humiliation all the greater.

Gigaba has often been seen as someone who could, one day, be president. There was been talk of a 30-year reign for KwaZulu-Natal, with President Jacob Zuma, then Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and then Gigaba as president. At other times it was claimed that Gigaba would run a ‘super-ministry’ which would be centred around public enterprises, a suggestion that he would be next in the line of succession after the deputy president.

Instead, Hanekom, who has occupied important posts in the party (including of course chairing its disciplinary committee during the expulsion of Julius Malema), has emerged the victor. He only went public with his criticism of the regulations after essentially being dared to by Radio 702’s John Robbie. And when he did so, he came armed with facts and figures. Then, clearly, he won a huge game of back-channel politicking. It will be some time before the facts emerge about what really happened in Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s inter-ministerial committee, but Hanekom has shown he is someone not to tangle with.

Another possible result of all of this is that it would seem unlikely at this point that Gigaba will back any bid by Ramaphosa come the ANC’s 2017 conference.

It is not just Gigaba who loses face here. His director-general, Mkuseli Apleni was also vociferous in his defence of these regulations, and he too is now wiping yolk from his face.

And Home Affairs spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete has perhaps been even more aggressive than Gigaba himself, both in words and in tone. While it’s understandable that tempers will flare under this kind of pressure, it’s important to ensure one does not come across as aggressive. Tshwete has the kind of background (and surname) that makes some think he too could enter the Cabinet one day. He is certainly very professional to deal with, and has a great capacity for work. However, this episode may be an important lesson for him not to over-spin the matter.

There are other implications for this about-turn by the Cabinet. It should not be forgotten that it had approved the original regulations. The damage to the economy was completely foreseeable, so why did the same people who reversed their decision make it in the first place? Did no one pay attention? Did they just go with Gigaba because they felt he was the coming man, and Hanekom was not?

And then there is the criticism that is now being voiced more and more often that no impact assessment was carried out by the government before these regulations were brought in. Surely someone neutral should have been asked to investigate what the impact would be? There was such a storm of negative reactions from every side of the political, business and public arenas. Did the Cabinet really have to wait for the damage to be done before understanding how wrong it all was?

In reality, this episode shows just how badly policy is made in this country. Facts and figures were thrown out the window because of the political personalities involved. Unfortunately, the economy, and the world, rely on facts and figures.

In this case reality, and South Africa with it, have won, and Gigaba has lost. DM

Statement on Cabinet decision on the immigration amendment acts and regulations

The Department of Home Affairs has welcomed Cabinet’s decision regarding the recommendations of the Inter-Ministerial Committee the President had established in August 2015 to look at the unintended consequences and mitigating factors relating to the implementation of the Immigration Amendment Acts (2007 and 2011) and Immigration Regulations, 2014. The law, as amended, will remain with adjustments to be made in implementation, to make it easier for people to comply.

In terms of the decision, on the requirement for travellers to apply for visas in person, in countries where there is no SA mission, the Department of Home Affairs will receive applications, including by post, and capture biometrics of travellers on arrival at ports of entry. To address concerns around the geographical spread of countries like China, India and Russia, certain measures will be put in place to ease the process of application, in particular for tourists.

With regard to the travelling of children Cabinet approved four processes. Child-travel requirements for outbound travelling will stay, including proof of parental relations through unabridged birth certificates, and, as necessary, parental consent. In respect of inbound travel where visas are required, it will still be required that original birth certificates and, as necessary, parental consent or certified copies are submitted during the visa application process. Requirements regarding unaccompanied minors will remain, like providing copies of the identity document or valid passport and visa or permanent residence permit of the person who is to receive an unaccompanied minor.

For visa-exempt countries a strong advisory will be issued, with travellers advised to have proof of relationship and consent from the absent parent/s or guardian/s, in case they are asked to provide such on arrival. Cabinet has mandated DHA to put in place the necessary legal instruments to give effect to this decision. The status quo will remain until such time the DHA has provided a legal instrument for this category of travellers. In the meantime travellers are encouraged to comply.

The decision to retain the IMC on Immigration Regulation will greatly assist in dealing with whatever difficulty might arise as a result of the implementation of its recommendations until such time that the main decisions have been implemented.

In order to implement Cabinet decisions on this matter, the Department will do the following:

In the next three months,

·         Implement the capturing of biometrics at ports of entry starting with a pilot at OR Tambo, King Shaka and Cape Town airports, 

·         Look at introducing an Accredited Tourism Company Programme for countries like China, India and Russia, 

·         Consider a long-term Multiple Entry Visa for a period exceeding 3 months and up to 3 years for frequent travellers (for business meetings), business people and academics, 

·         Principals will issue letters confirming permission for children to travel on school tours,

·         Extend the validity of the parental consent affidavit to 6 months.

Within a year,

·         Add visa facilitation centres, including in Zimbabwe, United Arab Emirates and Botswana,

·         Consider a visa-waiver for India, China, Russia and other countries,

·         Look at issuing visas on arrival for persons travelling to SA having in their passports valid visas for the UK, USA and Canada or any other country that applies stringent checks on visitors to their countries, to ease travel for tourists,

·         Consider granting a certain category of frequent travellers (business and academics) from Africa a 10 year Multiple Entry Visitor’s Visa,

·         Open two Business Visa Facilitation Centres in Durban and Port Elizabeth, in addition to the centre recently opened in Sandton,

·         Print parents’ details in their passports so that they do not have to carry birth certificates.

In the long term, one year and beyond,

·         Install systems for pre-flight checks at international airports,

·         Upgrade Advance Passenger Processing systems and implement Passenger Name Record, to enhance risk assessment,

·         Finalise automation of the visa and permitting system

These measures will ensure the balance between national security and economic interests of the country. Child safety will not be compromised.

For more information please contact Tracy@relocationafrica.com

Good news for Tourism in Africa

We had a series of questions for Steuart Pennington as he reflected on the proud achievements for the African continent and its infinite possibilities after a four-day walk on the wild side at the Wild Coast.

Question: Has Ebola reinforced the negative stereotypes and narrative about Africa?

Answer: Ebola has had both a negative and a positive impact on travellers to Africa. On the negative side, it had an impact on tourism as there was a disruption in air connectivity because some airlines withdrew services to West Africa. It also stopped those travellers who are by nature anxious from visiting other parts of Africa that were not affected by the outbreak. On the positive side it showed how African governments and civil society could respond to a crisis in the spirit of Ubuntu.

Question: How has the narrative about Africa as a place to live in, work in and invest in changed over time? If yes, what has inspired this change?

gdp_growth

Answer: We have seen tremendous progress in the past two decades. In the same way that South Africa has normalised its relations with the outside world, so have other African governments become more investor friendly, which has resulted in a win-win situation with foreign direct investment in mines and farms prompting infrastructure spending on roads, rail and electricity, which has benefited the investors and the local communities. As an example think of the Nacala railway that links the central province of Tete in Mozambique with the deep water port of Nacala in northern Mozambique through Malawi. The driving force for the railway line was getting the coal from the Moatize coal field to market, but it also opened tremendous opportunities in tourism and agriculture as previously unconnected areas were linked with the world. This linking with the world is also one of the benefits of social media as the younger generation share their experiences. For instance I connected with a young American student as she asked whether it was safe to travel from Cape Town to Cairo. I said it was and her blogs encouraged others to follow in her footsteps as she did not have one anxious moment during her whole trip even though she traversed countries such as South Sudan. The reality is that Africa is rising in part because of the demographic dividend as we have a young vibrant population, although more needs to be done in education. That is why foreign direct investment has switched from exploiting natural resources to investing in retail, banking and education. Shoprite for example will almost double the number of new store openings in the rest of Africa this year to 35 from 20 last year. There will be ten African economies this year which will rank amongst the fastest growing in the world at above 7%, while the International Monetary Fund predicts between 6 and 7% growth for Sub-Saharan Africa. As to what inspired this change, I guess it started with China’s need to source raw materials for its factories, but it could not get these without investing in infrastructure. That engendered healthy competition amongst other countries so we have American, Brazilian, Chinese, Indian, Japanese and Russian companies competing for access to raw materials, while the international hotel groups have seen a demand for upmarket business travel hotels, which has prompted investment plans of some $2bn in new hotels. I am told that the value of repatriated funds from the African diaspora is US$60bn per annum, or around five times that of Chinese investment. That is why we have people like Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote investing in cement plants in Benin, Cameroon, Ghana, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo and Zambia. The worry is whether other well-educated talented Africans are building their own businesses in Africa. On the political front there have been a similar number of changes. According to Freedom House the following changes have emerged over the past four decades: In 1972 there were three democratic elections as opposed to 40 post-2007; In 1972 there were 24 coups, there have been 5 post-2007, with 32 out of 54 Heads of State have been democratically elected, 24 are serving their first term and 16 their second term. In 2014 32 African countries were included in the Global Competitiveness Report, up from 20 some 12 years ago.

Question: Which companies/individuals/events would you say have inspired this change?

Answer: That is a difficult one as there are so many actors that have helped to change the perception regarding Africa. In that regard we should not discount what Nelson Mandela and our peaceful transition to a democracy meant for the rest of the continent. The second example of changing the narrative was that of Rwanda after the genocide of 1994. Instead of wallowing in self-pity and revenge, the Rwandans have embraced change and position themselves as the champions of reform, regularly topping the World Bank’s list of reformers when it comes to the ease of doing business.

Question: So what more still needs to be done?

Answer: The biggest challenge going forward is regional integration as although Africa consists of 54 countries most are small countries and need to link up the elephants in their vicinity. Almost 80% of African GDP is generated by only six countries, namely Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa. The Tripartite Free Trade Agreement, which was launched in Egypt in June 2015, pulls together three regional economic blocs, namely the Southern African Development Community (SADC); the East African Community (EAC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and we need more of that regional co-operation.

Question: How can the hospitality industry change the narrative about Africa?

Answer: What I am seeing is an increasingly fragmented travel market. There are the business travellers who want comfort and convenience in the major business centres. There are the leisure travellers who want value for money and a good time with their family and friends. Then there are the adventure travellers who seek out new experiences. All of these together provide the demand for a vibrant hospitality industry and it is the shared experiences of these diverse groups that will shape the narrative on Africa.

 

The original article can be viewed here