South Africa: Policy change on asylum seekers faces legal challenge

china-distressed-companies-south-africa-620x350What does the change mean? Pending the outcome, employers should be aware that foreign nationals applying for asylum in South Africa continue to be work authorized but must be immediately terminated if their applications are refused and they no longer have the option to apply for work permits while in South Africa.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate.
  • Who is affected: Companies employing asylum seekers in South Africa; foreign nationals in South Africa with outstanding asylum applications.
  • Business impact: If an employee’s asylum application is refused, the employment must be terminated and any subsequent work permit application must be submitted overseas.
  • Next steps: Employers should review the immigration status of their South African workforce to determine the level of risk exposure. BAL can assist in the process.

Background:The number of employers impacted by the recent change in DHA policy is potentially significant, given that an estimated 10 percent of the South African workforce are foreign nationals with outstanding asylum applications. Nearly 870,000 new asylum applications were submitted to the DHA between 2008 and 2013.