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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.

 

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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].

Tourism Minister Puts Visas Back on the Agenda

Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom is to meet with Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba to put South Africa’s unresolved problematic visa regime back on the national agenda.

Speaking at a Wesgro briefing in Cape Town today (Tuesday), he said dealing with the visa issues would be top priority in coming months. He already had a date for “a robust engagement” with Home Affairs and he was “quite hopeful that we will be able to address some of the visa issues”.

“We think the situation has changed, because we have a President who really sees the importance of tourism and who is going to be supportive.” He also suggested that Minister Gigaba might have gained a different perspective during his tenure as Finance Minister.

“While being the Minister of Finance, he was able to look at the economy very seriously, knowing very well that unless we do all sorts of smart things, we are not going to get economic growth. So I think things have changed somewhat. He has already indicated a real interest in expanding online visa applications and also (to increase) more visas on arrivals. So that will all form part of the discussions.”

Minister Hanekom criticised as “national stupidity” and “retrogressive” the Department of Home Affairs’ decision in December 2016 to impose reciprocal visas on New Zealand visitors. This was done during Minister Gigaba’s first tenure as Minister of Home Affairs. It was in response to New Zealand’s announcement in October 2016 to impose visas on South Africans travelling to that country.

“The notion of reciprocal visa requirements is unwise to say the least. It’s not very smart to retaliate.” He cited as an example that Russian arrivals to South Africa had increased by more than 50% last year after Russia was granted a visa waiver to South Africa, whereas arrivals from New Zealand declined by 17% during the same time “for no other reason than the visa requirement”.

Minister Hanekom said he would also again table South Africa’s requirement for unabridged birth certificates, which he said, was “costing South Africa heavily”. “Even the little bit of advance that we have made in China and India by not requiring people to go in person to collect their visas, is not enough. We need to do a lot more. It is still too difficult to get visas for South Africa. We also need to pay attention to the three-month limitation on visas and we need to pay attention to the long (immigration) queues at airports.”

He said addressing all these issues would make a huge difference in bringing more tourism to the country.

 

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.

Source: Hilka Birns, Tourism Update.