The British Chamber of Business in Southern Africa (BCBSA) was invited by the ANC’s Progressive Business Forum, which you can read more about here, to participate in a recent engagement with the Minister (Aaron Motsoaledi) and Director General (Thulani Mavuso) of the South African Department of Home Affairs.
The round-table took place at the Taj Hotel in Cape Town, and the Chamber was represented by our very own Lynn Mackenzie – Relocation Africa’s Immigration Lead – who was eager to engage with the Minister and DG.
The Minister discussed each of the main South African visas applied for – Business, Critical Skills, Intra-company Transfer, Corporate, and General Work – and was open to comments from attendees throughout. On the matter of Business Visas, it was noted that the various departments involved seem to be working well together, with the Department of Trade and Industry performing its due diligence.
Concerningly, consensus among those at the meeting was that there is increasing inconsistency between the Act and regulations, and their implementation, especially in overseas missions.
The transition to permanent residence was a hot topic, with practitioners insisting the process should be made easier. Many who move to South Africa still find themselves stuck in limbo, having to renew visas, while being under the impression they are on the path to gaining permanent residency, which brings with it a host of benefits, and allows the individual to feel more entrenched within South African society – something which the DHA assumedly has an interest in.
The Critical Skills visa list from 2014 is currently being updated, however the attendees’ experience was that the system is already in transition, with the new list being implemented in practice. The DHA did not comment on this matter. It is expected that the Department of Higher Education will give the DHA the new list by March 2020, however DHA has been vague about timelines up to this point. We will endeavour to share more information as and when we receive it.
The DHA claimed during the meeting that turnaround times for visas are an average of 4 to 8 weeks, however attendees noted they have not experienced this. We are hoping that waiting times improve in the new year, as the new systems officially roll out. Attendees were also happy to hear that there is frequent engagement and communication between the Home Affairs, Labour, and Trade and Industry departments.
Practitioners at the meeting expressed the fact that rejections are the highest they have seen in recent years and asked for data relating to this matter. The DG staged that data is available for turnaround times and percentage of applications approved. It was also noted that General Work Visa applications are rarely successful, and people are therefore refraining from applying for them. One attendee suggested to the DHA that this category is abolished entirely.
Finally, some meeting members conveyed their dissatisfaction with the bureaucracy in dealing with the DHA, saying that administrative procedures are, at times, excessively complicated. It is our hope that the DHA will cut down on this element of its practices and be more flexible in the coming years.
To end off the meeting, the Minister said there would be follow-up meetings, and regular engagement with DHA, which we greatly appreciate.
We would like to thank the Chamber for providing us with the opportunity to attend this valuable engagement session and thank Minister Motsoaledi and DG Mavuso for taking the time to hear and provide feedback in these kinds of round-table meetings. Relocation Africa looks forward to what 2020 will bring in the South African immigration space.
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