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South Africa Adopts New Visa Rules

The reversal of the unabridged birth certificate rule is just one of the many changes implemented by the Department of Home Affairs.

South Africa will implement some changes to its visa system in December 2018 which will likely impact tourism and immigration procedures.

This was revealed by the Department of Home Affairs, which recently published its regulatory amendments pertaining to the Immigration Act of 2002. This official government notice, published on 29 November, has been reported on by Business Tech in the wake of former Home Affairs Minister, Malusi Gigaba’s, disgraced exit from the department.

No more unabridged birth certificates

While Gigaba’s dubious tenure came to an abrupt halt following serious allegations of corruption, mismanagement and Constitutional violations – his time as Home Affairs minister will forever be stained by the unabridged birth certificate debacle. This rule, which required minors entering or leaving South Africa to produce an unabridged birth certificate, has been overturned.

The controversial rule, implemented by Gigaba during the start of his term, allegedly cost South Africa R7.5 billion due to a noticeable drop in lucrative the tourism sector.

The reversal of the unabridged birth certificate rule is just one of the many changes implemented by the Department of Home Affairs, due to take effect on 1 December. Let’s look at some other revised regulations which will affect the visa system in South Africa.

Spousal visa for entering South Africa

Visa applications concerning spouses in a “permanent homosexual or heterosexual relationship” have been revised in the latest amendment of the Immigration Act. The adjustments to the regulatory act define new policies relating to the rights of spouses entering South Africa. The notice makes a few important points:

  • Applications need to prove to the Director-General that the applicant is a spouse to a citizen or permanent residence permit holder.
  • Applicants need to sign an agreement stating that the permanent homosexual or heterosexual relationship has existed for at least two years before the date of application for a relevant visa and that neither of the parties is a spouse in an existing marriage.
  • Documents detailing the financial support the partners provide to each other need to be provided.
  • Both partners to a permanent homosexual or heterosexual relationship may be interviewed separately, on the same date and time, to determine the authenticity of the existence of their relationship.

Travelling with a child

Revised regulations relating specifically to children in transit have been noted in the Department of Home Affairs’ document. In addition to no longer needing an unabridged birth certificate, here are some points for parents and guardians to be aware of when travelling to and from South Africa.

Parent(s), legal guardians, or any other person travelling with a child who is a South African citizen, must produce the following before departing or entering South Africa:

  • a copy of a birth certificate or passport containing the details of the parent or parents of the child
  • a letter of consent from the other parent or parents of the child authorising such person to depart from or enter South Africa with the child he or she is travelling with
  • a copy of the passport, or identity card in the case of South African citizens, of the parent or parents or legal guardian of the child
    the contact details of the parent or parents, or legal guardian, of the child
  • a copy of a court order granting full parental responsibilities and rights or legal guardianship in respect of the child

An unaccompanied child must produce the immigration officer with the following:

  • a copy of his or her birth certificate
  • a letter of consent from one or both his or her parents or legal guardian, as the case may be, for the child to travel into or depart from South Africa
  • a copy of the passport of the parent or parents or legal guardian of the child
    the contact details of the parent or parents or legal guardian of the child
  • a letter from the person who is to receive the child in the country, containing his or her residential address and contact details in the country where the child will be residing
  • a copy of the identity card or valid passport and visa or permanent residence permit of the person who is to receive the child in the country

General work, business, and corporate visas

Visa revisions have also been made concerning foreigners who intend to establish a business or invest in a business that is not yet established in South Africa. These revisions include providing detailed account information and registering with various state institutions, including SARS and the Unemployment Insurance Fund.

Applications for general work visas have also been revised and must include a letter issued to the prospective employer by the Department of Labour stating that:

  • despite a diligent search, the prospective employer has been unable to find a suitable citizen or permanent resident with qualifications or skills and experience equivalent to those of the applicant
  • the applicant has qualifications or proven skills and experience in line with the job offer
  • the contract of employment stipulating the conditions of employment, signed by both the employer and the applicant, is in line with the labour standards in the Republic and is issued on condition that the general work visa is approved.

Corporate visas also need to pass through the Department of Labour, following a similar process by engaging integral state institutions.

To make use of the Department of Home Affairs’ e-services, click here. To find your nearest Home Affairs office, 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].

South African Asylum Processes Undergoing Review

For Azama Damas, a matric drop-out, the march to Parliament yesterday was about highlighting the plight faced by fellow matric pupils who were refugees in South Africa.
The march coincided with World Refugee Day which is observed on June 20 each year to honour the spirit and courage of millions of refugees worldwide who have had to flee their homes and countries due to violence, war and other conflicts.

The 19-year-old Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) national was supposed to be doing her matric at Focus College in Wynberg.

She had hoped to be admitted to Stellenbosch University next year. Instead she is heartbroken at home as she doesn’t have documents.

Damas came to South Africa at a young age with her late father who had a permanent residency. Her father died four years ago. Her mother is in DRC but cannot afford to travel to South Africa.

“I also cannot afford to go back home and besides I don’t want to go back, things are horrible there. That’s why my father came here the first place. My father passed away in 2014 waiting for Home Affairs to put me on the system.”

The Voice of Africans for Change was at the forefront of the march which saw people from about six countries.

They protested for their human rights and called for the Department of Home Affairs to “stop defeating the ruling of the Supreme Court of Appeal” and reopen the refugee reception office in Cape Town.

The Supreme Court of Appeal last year ordered the department to reopen the reception refugee office in Cape Town by March 31 of this year.

The office was yet to open, the group said.

Nijimbere Luqman, 32, from Burundi, said he was forced to leave his home due to war, persecution and violence.

“I have been here since 2016 I cannot work and my son cannot go to school because we don’t have papers. I have been surviving through the help of other people. We are not treated like humans here. We are suffering. My wife was left behind and was supposed to follow but to date I have not got hold of her. I think she might have been killed in the ongoing political war.”

Making a speech at Constitution Hill, Johannesburg, yesterday, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said that over the years South Africa had become one of the largest host countries for refugees worldwide, with more than 126000 refugees recorded since 2009, and many more asylum seekers.

“As we stand #WithRefugees, we must reflect on the enormous disruption and difficulty faced by refugees and displaced persons, and highlight the need to assist them by providing a safe place, and welcoming them into our communities, our schools, and our workplaces.

“South Africa remains committed to protecting refugees and strengthening our institutional arrangements in this regard.

“Accordingly, we are in the process of updating our policies and regulations with regard to international migration and refugees.

‘‘We intend further to strengthen our capacity to speedily process asylum claims through various interventions which are complemented by our new international migration policy which seeks to address the challenges occasioned by the large number of economic migrants who abuse the asylum seeker process to regularise their stay in South Africa,” Gigaba said.

He said in recent years, “spurious asylum” applications by economic migrants overwhelmed the system, resulting in inordinately long wait times for decisions for applicants.

“This made it extremely difficult to identify and respond to the needs of genuine refugees.

“Our new international migration policy presents a new approach to better manage irregular and economic migration, through regularisation of existing migrants already residing in South Africa, and creating new visa options for citizens of neighbouring countries to reside in South Africa legally.”

 

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: Okuhle Hlati via IOL [1]. Image sources: [1].

SA Immigration Changes Gradually Progressing in DHA

Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has bemoaned red tape and a ministerial revolving door that make it difficult to push through policy changes.

Gigaba, who himself has been public enterprises minister, home affairs minister and finance minister, before moving back to the home affairs portfolio, told a Black Business Council (BBC) roundtable in Sandton on Friday: “The biggest problem the ANC needs to address is that a vision can’t be carried by an individual but needs to be carried by an institution. The vision must be sustainable even if the individuals aren’t sustainable.”

In references to the various cabinet reshuffles in the past few years, he said: “We don’t even know whether we’re still going to be here to carry out these visions.”

While the Department of Home Affairs had ambitious plans to make the department completely paperless, to review critical skills work permits and to manage SA’s borders, it was difficult to make changes, he said.

“The immigration act couldn’t deal with a number of challenges, we need a new policy framework,” he said.

“Red tape makes it difficult for decisions to move speedily. To get something approved takes over a year. Things that need to move quickly, take forever.”

Critical skills

One of the problems that needed to be addressed was that students from other countries who study scarce skills in SA are then lost to the workforce because they struggle to get documentation allowing them to stay.

“The manner in which the last white paper was drafted, didn’t allow us to attract critical skills. Students who studied critical skills here would leave and we would lose those skills,” said Gigaba.

Changes that are in the works would allow students to skip certain stages to get permanent residence immediately, he said.

A new white paper on immigration was passed in 2017 but implementation will take the next two years.

It is intended to make criteria for immigration clearer, and make it easier to apply and submit documentation.

Criteria for permanent residents to acquire citizenship will also be made clearer.

It also aims to create a clearer distinction between the citizenship process and the refugee regime, and to create a more durable refugee system.

“We are also looking at introducing long-term visas for low-skilled migrants from the Southern African Development Community region,” Gigaba said.

“It will … provide them with documentation and ensure they are integrated into society.”

Gigaba said economic migrants abused the asylum-seeker system instead of seeking regularization.

 

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: Sunita Menon via BusinessDay [1]. Image sources: [1].

10 Million Smart IDs Issued to SA Citizens in Past Five Years

A total of 10 million smart ID cards have been issued to South African citizens in the past five years, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gibaba said on Wednesday.

“When the first card was issued, in 2013, around 38 million people had green-barcoded IDs. I am pleased to announce, we now have issued 10 million smart cards. This, in spite of challenges in infrastructure, systems and staffing,” Gigaba said in a media briefing ahead of tabling his budget vote in Parliament.

The 10 millionth recipient of the ID smart card, Nomthandazo Maweni, was present in Parliament where a ceremonial handover of her new identity card was done.

Gigaba said while the department had come a long way, it would probably have to revise its target of totally eradicating the bar-coded IDs in the next five years.

“Of course, if you look at where we started in 2013, we have been picking up momentum but it is likely that we would not have reached 38 million conversions by 2023,” he said.

 

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

Sources: Chantall Presence via IOL [1]. Image sources: [1].

Home Affairs Clamps Down on Illegal Immigrant Employment

It is now a matter of when and not if companies employing foreign nationals will be audited by the Department of Home Affairs (DHA).

The arrest of at least 25 illegal foreign nationals at the beginning of May by the Cape Town Police, accompanied by officials from the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), sparked a scramble among the local business community who are concerned that they may unknowingly be employing foreigners who are working in the country illegally.

Marisa Jacobs, immigration specialist at Xpatweb, says that considering recent arrests that have been made, HR professionals, managers, business owners and CEOs need to make sure that systems are in place to ensure that expatriates are legally employed within their business.

“The Department of Home Affairs has warned that they will be increasing the number of audits and investigations among South African companies that employ foreign nationals. This isn’t an empty threat and they are clamping down on foreign nationals who contravene the act as well as employers who are illegally employing foreigners. Anyone who is deemed responsible for the appointment of the person could face repercussions which means that everyone from HR managers to CEOs could face fines or imprisonment,” says Jacobs.

Pitfall no.1: Employees job titles don’t match work visa job titles

Making sure that an employee’s job title matches the title on their work visa is a vital step to ensuring that foreigners are complying with the Act. “It can happen that a company employs a foreign national and that the employee is promoted or moved within the business. When an employee changes jobs and their job title or position changes, their work visa may no longer comply with the conditions thereof.

The process to update the visa so that it is in line with the work contract is relatively simple and straightforward, but it’s a step that many employers overlook, and this can put them at risk to non-compliance,” says Jacobs.

Pitfall no.2: Information on permits don’t match DHA system information

If a company has employed a foreign national already in possession of a visa, the company may not know if the worker’s visa is legitimate, whether it was obtained in the correct manner or even if it was issued by the DHA.

“In this case, we recommend that employers contact the DHA to check what information is on the system. This additional check beyond looking at a work visa is needed to ensure compliance with the Act,” says Jacobs.

Pitfall no.3: No skills transfer plan

Another potential pitfall that companies should take note of is the condition relating to the transfer of skills. Certain categories of work visas for foreign nationals stipulate that the skill that is being imported needs to be transferred to local citizens. If a company is audited by the DHA, the company may be asked to present their skills transfer plans.

“One of the main reasons South African businesses employ foreign nationals is because we don’t have the skills, knowledge or expertise within our borders. Having a skills transfer plan in place is a great opportunity for local employers to upskill their employees and give them an opportunity to learn from foreigners so that they can cultivate the skills that are needed within their business as well as the country. Besides requesting a copy of the company’s skills transfer plan, DHA may further request to interview people who have been earmarked to learn from the foreign nationals,” concludes Jacobs.

 

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

Sources: IT-Online [1]. Image sources: [1].