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SA Home Affairs Update: Change of Status Revision; Reciprocal Travel Visa Revision

The South African government has recently announced two immigration- and visitor-related changes.

Change of Status

Foreigners who are spouses or children of South African citizens or permanent residents may now apply for change of status/condition from within the country, if they are currently in SA on normal visitors visas, without first applying for waivers.

Reciprocal Visa

At the Budget Vote 2019, the SA Minister of Home Affairs announced a new list of countries on South Africa’s visa-free list. The additions, to boost tourism, include Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Ghana, Sao Tome and Principe, and New Zealand.

 

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].

Plans for South Africa’s New e-Visa System

A new digital system for visa applications is on the cards for October.

The e-visa is part of government’s overhaul to make it easier for tourists to travel to South Africa, as well as for companies to acquire employees with scarce skills. President Ramaphosa made the commitment during his State of the Nation Address last Thursday.

“We’ll make good on our ambition to more than double international tourism arrivals to 21 million by 2030,” Ramaphosa said. “This will be achieved through the renewal of the country’s brand introducing a world-class visa regime and a significant focus on key markets.”

Ramaphosa’s commitment has been well received by business, but the industry says more is needed. “We welcome the fact that he said we’ll put in place a world-class visa system,” said Banking Association of SA CEO Cas Coovadia.

“What we would have liked him to say was that current visa system that’s impeding tourism will be suspended immediately.” Tourism accounts for about a tenth of the economy and employs about 1.6-million people.

The latest data shows an increase of more than 4 percent year-on-year in April. Home Affairs says the new visa system will enable investment. The department further stated that the visa system should also make it more efficient to admit people with scarce skills and it won’t compromise the country’s security.

“We’re now at the stage where we’re doing functional testing, once that’s done we’ll do a proper pilot with a few countries,” said Home Affairs Acting Director-General Thulani Mavuso “Once that’s completed we’ll go into production.”

Currently, citizens from 59 countries don’t need to apply for a visa to visit South Africa and this figure is set to increase soon. Tourism is a major impetus for growth and job creation and the e-visa will hopefully make travelling here easier.

 

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].

What You Can Expect From South Africa’s Updated Identity System

The South African government is currently working on an updated national identification system with the ultimate goal of building a ‘future-fit’ Home Affairs.

Speaking at an ID4Africa conference earlier this month, International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor said that the system will provide a single source of information about all clients, using both biographic and biometric technologies.

“The new national identity system South Africa seeks to build will serve as a master source for civics and immigration management,” she said.

“The modernisation of South Africa’s Home Affairs, when fully and successfully implemented, will re-engineer and automate most of the key processes of the department and yield a significantly enhanced national identification system, and a credible national population register.”

Some of the key elements of the system include:

  • Records of persons throughout their lifespan;
  • Birth, marriage and death records of residents (citizens, permanent residents, asylum seekers and refugees);
  • All persons entering the country will have their biometrics captured during the visa application process or at the point of entry;
  • Processing and storing of asylum seekers and refugees’ applications;
  • Records of visitors who enter and leave the country;
  • Records of illegal persons in the country.

Pandor also promised that the new system will be more customer-centric and will be a secure environment.

“With the advent of the fourth industrial revolution, the ultimate goal is to utilize technology in bringing government services closer to the people, where they live,” she said.

 

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 Home Affairs Asks United Nations HRC for Help with Refugee Backlog

The Department of Home Affairs has approached the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to help it clear the 150 000 refugee status appeals backlog, according to Director of Asylum Seekers, Mandla Madumisa.

Madumisa was speaking at the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) on recently, GroundUp reports.

The SAHRC subpoenaed Acting Home Affairs Director-General, Thulani Mavuso, to address complaints that the department takes an inordinately long time to process asylum applications and permanent residence permits.

SAHRC chairperson Bongani Majola, said his institution had struggled to engage with Home Affairs for the past year so a subpoena was necessary.

Majola said: “Home Affairs is a central structure that affects so many people’s lives.”

A working relationship should be established between the commission and Home Affairs so that individual cases could be dealt with efficiently, he said.

Progress

Majola asked Home Affairs representatives if any progress had been made on the backlog of refugee appeals.

Madumisa said a consultant from UNHRC was appointed and started in May. The consultant would assess the situation at Home Affairs and would come up with a comprehensive plan to deal with the backlog.

“By the end of July the department will receive that report and we will have a clear way forward on how we will deal with the backlog,” he said.

Mavuso said Home Affairs also struggled with the verification of information when it came to spousal visa applications. He said the turnaround time for the department is currently eight months but he said it was looking into extending it to 18 months.

“Eight months becomes a challenge because an adjudicator cannot touch an application before the inspector can put a stamp on the verification of information including supporting documents,” he said.

He said this meant that the inspectors would need to do various interviews and confirm that the information presented to Home Affairs is verified.

“You have cases where people submit police clearance documents but the documents have been totally manipulated… so because of the constraints on the ground of the inspectors, we will have to ensure that the [turn around] period increases,” he told the panel.

Mavuso said the turnaround time depended on whether the information provided was easily verified.

SAHRC commissioner Angie Makwetla asked Mavuso whether Home Affairs kept the applicants informed on the status of their application “because a person can’t wait from 2016 to 2018 and not know what is happening”.

Jackie McKay, Deputy Director General of Immigration, responded: “We would love to do that. In fact any good department would do that. But I have 22 people who deal with all of these cases… I’m working my staff to the bone.”

He said Home Affairs did not have systems in place that could automate those updates but he said it was currently working on a system that would make it more efficient.

 

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].

Home Affairs Focusing on People Working in South Africa on the Wrong Visa

The Department of Home Affairs has published its first directive for 2019, aiming to clamp down on foreigners working in the country on ‘business trip’ visas.

According to Marisa Jacobs, director at Xpatweb, the directive clarifies that Section 11(2) visas are not to be used continuously and are specifically to allow for ‘short term project resources in South Africa’.

“The issuing of this directive indicates a common misuse of the visa category by employers where they are making use of the relaxed nature of visa requirements of this category to bring resources into South Africa and then continuously extending or applying for new visas when they should, in fact, be pursuing a long term work visa,” she said.

“The directive now sets out clearly that the visa may only be applied for once in a calendar year and only extended once for a period not exceeding three months. The maximum period is thus six months.”

Misrepresentation

According to Jacobs, there is a broad misrepresentation by business travelers – especially those travelling from visa exempt countries – who enter South Africa on a holiday/business visa while in fact conducting work in South Africa.

“When an employee comes to render employment services in South Africa, make sure they get a valid short-term work visa,” she said.

“Do not take a chance and tell the immigration official this is only a business trip, when the purpose is work.

“It is easy to be compliant and not worth the risk. The process takes 5 – 10 working days and the short-term visa is issued for three months and may be extended in South Africa for a further three months.”

Consequences of working on a Business Visa

Where an expatriate is found on your premises conducting work without the necessary authorization on their visa to conduct such work, the Immigration Act clearly sets out the implications for both the expatriate and the employer, said Jacobs.

This includes arrest and deportation for the foreign national and a fine and/or arrest for the employer depending on the offence, she said.

“The issuing of the above directive points to a more vigilant Department with their eye on individuals and businesses who do not comply with the conditions of their visas.

“This is a good time to ensure all employees are compliant and your organisation is in the green.”

 

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].