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Visa Service Update for South Africa: VFS Centres Reopen

As per the VFS South Africa website, as of Tuesday 22 September 2020, visa services have resumed at all Visa Facilitation Centres in South Africa.

All categories of temporary residence visas, including applications of waivers of the prescribed requirement, will be accepted. The resumption of other immigration related applications will be phased in over a period of time.

Please note that adherence to all COVID -19 health protocols at all VFS centres are mandatory.

For more information, click here.

 

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

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

South Africa Moving to Level 1 Lock-down: What Are the Changes?

President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that a number of South Africa’s lockdown regulations will be relaxed as the country moves to a level 1 lockdown from midnight on Sunday (20 September).

In a national address on Wednesday evening (16 September), the president said that the country has ‘withstood the storm’ in its fight against the coronavirus and that the data shows a clear downward trend in the country.

However, he cautioned that ‘by any measure we are still in the midst of a deadly epidemic’ and said that the most important task is ensuring that the country is not hit by a second wave of infections as is being seen internationally.

To help prevent a possible second wave, Ramaphosa said that the government will expand its testing to include more categories of people. He said that the government also plans to step up its contact tracing capabilities.

Ramaphosa said that South Africa is also participating in a World Health Organisation initiative to ensure access and distribution to a successful coronavirus vaccine at a lower cost. Local experts are also working on a vaccine.

The South African government has consistently reminded citizens to practice strict hygiene habits, and follow safety guidelines, which include wearing masks, washing and sanitizing hands, maintaining a social distance of at least 2 metres, and working from home whenever possible.

Eased restrictions

As Covid-19 cases decrease, the president said that the country will move to lockdown level 1 from midnight on Sunday (taking effect at midnight, or 00h01 on Monday), with restrictions eased in the following areas:

Gatherings

  • Gatherings will be allowed as long as the number of people do not exceed 50% of the normal capacity of a venue –  up to a maximum of 250 people for indoor gatherings and 500 people for outdoor gatherings;
  • Maximum capacity at funerals has been increased to 100 people;
  • Night vigils are still prohibited;
  • Venues such as gyms and recreational facilities have had limits increased to 50% of total capacity;
  • Existing restrictions on sporting events remain in place.

 

Travel

  • The government will gradually ease restrictions on international travel for business and leisure from 1 October – subject to containment measures. A list of permitted countries will be published and based on the latest scientific data;
  • International travel will only be allowed through the main border ports or through OR Tambo International, Cape Town International, or King Shaka International;
  • Travellers will need to provide a negative coronavirus certificate or will be put into quarantine at their own cost;
  • All travellers will be required to install the Coivd-19 alert level app.

 

Other changes

  • The evening curfew will apply between 00h00 and 04h00;
  • Alcohol for home consumption can be sold between 09h00 – 17h00 from Monday to Friday;
  • On-site consumption will be allowed subject to adherence to the curfew;
  • More government facilities will return.

Ramaphosa said that this will be the ‘new normal’ and that updated restrictions will be gazetted over the next few days, providing more clarity.

New economic recovery plan 

The move to level 1 comes after the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) has agreed to an action plan for South Africa’s economic recovery.

The plan is directed towards building confidence and placing South Africa on a path of investment and growth.

“Social partners have identified priority areas for rebuilding the economy as well as structural reforms and other programmes which will enable sustainable and inclusive growth with an intensive focus on job creation,” the presidency said.

While the final details of the plan will only be announced once it is finalised by cabinet, the presidency said that a core focus will be on addressing Eskom’s structural and funding problems.

“Social partners have also agreed on a social compact which commits government, business, labour and community to mobilising funding to address Eskom’s financial crisis in a sustainable manner – in return for an efficient, productive and fit-for-purpose Eskom that generates electricity at affordable prices for communities and industries,” it said.

Another key pillar of the plan will be infrastructure, with a massive development drive seen as key to driving recovery post-lockdown and creating jobs.

This comes after the presidency published a list of ‘priority infrastructure projects’, which is expected to pave the way for the beginning of private investment in a R2.3 trillion programme over the next decade.

To watch the President’s speech, click here.

 

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

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

Nigeria Update: Guidelines for Visa Re-validation and Migrant Travels

Lynn Mackenzie, J.D., LLM

Courtesy of  Advocaat Law Practice

Upon resumption of international flights in Nigeria on September 5, 2020, the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) issued guidelines for visa revalidation and migrant travels affected by the suspension of international flights and closure of airspace. The guidelines provide as follows:

  1. All migrants in Nigeria, whose Permit expired between March 23, 2020 to September 5, 2020 will upon presentation of their confirmed return tickets, be granted a free extension to enable them to depart the country on, or before September 15, 2020.
  2. All migrants in Nigeria, whose Permit or Visitors’ pass expired before March 23, 2020 will pay overstay penalty for the number of days stayed before the suspension of international flights and border closure, which commenced on March 23, 2020.
  3. All resident migrants whose residence permits expired, while outside the country from March 23, 2020 shall be allowed entry into Nigeria with the expired permit on or before September 25, 2020. These returning migrants are required to renew their residence permit within thirty (30) days of their arrival in Nigeria to avoid sanctions under the relevant Immigration laws.
  4. All migrants who processed payments for Visa on Arrival (VOA) and other categories of visas from the Nigerian Missions before March 23, 2020 are to apply for revalidation. A copy of the previous payment must be sent to; Cisevisa@immigration.gov.ng no later than September 15, 2020.
  5. All migrants who obtained VOA pre-approval Letters and other categories of visas from the Nigerian Missions before March 23, 2020, whose approvals/visas expired before September 5, 2020, are to also apply for revalidation. The revalidation process requires that copies of the expired pre-approval letters/visas be sent to cis-evisa@immigration.gov.ng not later than September 15, 2020. These categories of migrants will not be required to make fresh payments.
  6. VOA and e-Visa payment portals have been activated to enable intending migrants to Nigeria process entry visas as from September 5, 2020.
  7. Migrants who have obtained Temporary Work Permit (TWP) approval addressed to Missions that are closed for visa issuance should submit a complaint through cisevisa@immigration.gov.ng. The NIS will, upon receipt of the complaint, revert with appropriate options for visa issuance.
  8. All intending passengers are required to register via a Nigerian International Travel Portal online accessed through https://nitp.ncdc.gov.ng/onboarding/guidelines.
  9. While on the portal, passengers are required to complete the ‘Health Declaration/SelfReporting’ form, upload COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test conducted in the country of departure and make payment for a repeat PCR test to be done upon arrival in Nigeria, with the options of where and when to carry out the test.

The content of this article is provided for general information purposes. The provision of this article does not constitute legal advice or opinion of any kind; no advisory or fiduciary relationship is created between Relocation Africa and any other person accessing or using this article. Relocation Africa will not be liable for any damages or loss arising from using any part of this article.

 

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

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

Relocation Africa Nigerian Immigration Interview With Kunle Obebe

Lynn Mackenzie, our Immigration Lead, recently had the privilege of interviewing Ola Alokolaro, from Advocaat Law, about Cameroon and Sierra Leone’s immigration landscape.

To listen to Lynn and Ola’s conversation about immigration in the current context, click here to view the recording, or view it below.

Kunle’s bio

Kunle is recognized as the foremost Nigerian lawyer in immigration, employment and labor matters and is frequently sought after as local counsel for large international companies. He is said to be the “the first port of call” and has a “long standing reputation” in the market (Who’s Who Legal – Nigeria 2014).

Kunle advises multi-national corporations, Fortune 500 companies, high net-worth individuals and Nigerian companies on issues relating to regulatory compliance with particular reference to expatriate and Nigerian employee work authorization in and out of Nigeria and corporate and commercial law.

He is a certified Global Mobility Specialist and a regular speaker at Nigerian and international conferences/seminars on regulatory compliance and emerging corporate immigration issues in Nigeria.

He is the Managing Partner and Chair of the firm’s Dispute Resolution, Immigration and Employment & Labour Practice Groups at Bloomfield Law Practice.

 

We would like to say a huge thank you to Kunle for his insights. We hope you enjoy the recording.

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

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].  

Updated Level 2 Lock-down Rules for South Africa: Flights, Home Affairs, Transit, and Weddings

Government has gazetted a number of directives which clarify and update a number of rules around the country’s move to a level 2 lock-down.

This includes changes around events such as weddings, rules around travelling as well as a new list of services which will be offered by Home Affairs.

These changes are outlined in more detail below.


Home Affairs services

Home Affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi has confirmed that the following additional services will be available at Home Affairs offices during the level 2 lock-down:

  • Applications for first issue of Identity Card or Green Barcoded Identity Documents;
  • Applications for Identity Cards or Green Barcoded Identity Documents by persons who have been issued with a Temporary Identity Certificate during the national state of disaster, which certificates have expired;
  • Applications for amendments of personal particulars;
  • Applications for rectification of personal particulars;
  • Back Office records retrieval services.

The directive also states that all temporary identity certificates issued during the period of the national state of disaster that have not yet expired on the date of commencement of this Directions, are hereby extended up to 31 October 2020.

Weddings and other events 

Tourism minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane has published a new directive clarifying the rules around weddings and other events.

The regulations state that attendance at a venue for a wedding, exhibition or any other function is limited to 50 persons and all hygienic conditions and physical distancing measures must be adhered to, for the limitation of exposure of persons to Covid-19.

The directive further states that the person organizing the wedding, exhibition or function and the owner or manager of the venue must ensure compliance with the requirement relating to physical distancing of at least one and a half metres and the wearing of a cloth face mask, a homemade item or another appropriate item that covers the nose and mouth, by all attendees.

Other requirements include:

  • Set up screening stations at entrances to facilitate the screening of persons before entry;
  • Not allow access to a person who is not wearing a cloth mask, or homemade item that covers the nose and mouth or another appropriate item to cover the nose and mouth;
  • Ensure that every person wears a cloth face mask, a homemade item or another appropriate item that covers the nose and mouth at all times except when eating or drinking;
  • Ensure that every person sanitizes before entry;
  • Sanitize microphones and podiums after use by every person.

Flights 

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula has published a new directive indicating that domestic passenger flights are permitted at the following airports:

  • Bram Fischer International Airport;
  • Cape Town International Airport;
  • East London Airport;
  • George Airport;
  • Hoedspruit Airport;
  •  Kimberly Airport;
  •  King Shaka International Airport;
  •  Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport;
  • Lanseria International Airport;
  • Margate Airport;
  • Mthatha Airport;
  • OR Tambo International Airport;
  • Phalaborwa Airport;
  • Pietermaritzburg Airport;
  • Port Elizabeth International Airport;
  • Richards Bay Airport;
  • Skukuza Airport;
  • Upington International Airport.

The directive also confirms that all international passenger flights are prohibited, except those flights authorized by the Minister of Transport.

Public transport 

In a separate directive, Mbalula  confirmed that all long-distance intra-provincial and inter-provincial travel by private vehicles and public transport services are permitted.

  • Minibus, midibus or minibus taxi -type services are permitted to carry not more than 70% of their maximum licensed passenger-carrying capacity for long-distance intra-provincial travel and inter-provincial travel;
  • Bus services are permitted to carry not more than 70% of their licensed passenger-carrying capacity for long-distance intra-provincial and inter-provincial travel;
  • Bus, minibus, midibus, minibus taxi -type services, e-hailing services, meter taxis, shuttle services, chauffeur driven vehicles and scholar transport vehicles are permitted to carry 100% of their maximum licensed passenger capacity for short-distance travel;
  • Rail operations are permitted to carry not more than 70% of their licensed passenger capacity.

The directive also confirms that the transportation of liquor is now permitted.

 

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

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].