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Opinion: South Africa Needs More Visa-free Agreements if it Wants to Stop Losing ‘Passport Power’

Although the South African passport has lost 10 positions over the last decade on the latest Henley Passport Index, the country could play catch-up if a concerted effort is made to secure mutual visa waivers with so-called “high quality nations”.

This is the view of Amanda Smit, managing partner and head of South, Central and East Africa at the UK-based global citizenship and residence advisory firm Henley & Partners.

South Africa ranks 56th on the latest index, which ranks passports in the world according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa. It is based on data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

The UAE, for example, managed to increase its passport’s position on the index by 47 places over the last 10 years to 18th place, Smit told Fin24 on Wednesday.

Looking specifically at the BRICS countries, of which SA forms part, Smit said that, while Brazil and China improved their positions on the index over the past 10 years by nine and sixteen places respectively, India and Russia have also seen the power of their passports decline during that time, dropping by seven and two places respectively.

Smit says one might think the SA passport’s visa free or visa on arrival access to 100 destinations is a lot, but compare that to the Japanese passport (ranked in first place on the index) which offers 191 visa-free destinations.

On top of that, none of the 100 visa free destinations for an SA passport are in what Smit describes as the “most popular” destinations. In her view, that makes it more difficult to be “mobile” for business or leisure purposes.

She also argues that, while other African countries’ passports mainly remained static on the index, the SA passport lost ground.

Among African countries, the Seychelles remains the regional lead, ranking 29th globally with a visa-free or visa-on-arrival score of 151, while Mauritius retains second place with a visa-free or visa-on-arrival score of 146.

“My advice is that, if SA wants to improve the strength of our passport, we must be more proactive to obtain mutual visa agreements with other countries – preferably ‘high quality’ nations,” Smit says.

 

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].

Home Affairs Gazettes New, Tougher Laws for Refugees and Asylum Seekers

Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi has gazetted the Refugees Amendment Act, which came into effect from 1 January.

The amended act has new rules for refugees and asylum seekers in South Africa.

Speaking to Clement Manyathela on the Xolani Gwala Show, Dr Motsoaledi explains the new rules in the act. “We have added more exclusions on when can you get exclude for applying for asylum. In the new act we expel you if you commit fraud because when you defraud documents, you destroy the sovereignty of the country and undermine everything Parliament has done”, Motsoaedi said.

Motsoaledi says changes to the laws are much broader than what has been covered in the media. He explains that the act includes several updated definitions, including what it means to classify as a dependent.

According to Motsaoledi, applicants will be excluded if:

  • They have been involved in Schedule 2 crimes
  • They have fraudulent documentation
  • They were involved in war crimes
  • They enjoy protections from another country

 

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].

SA Home Affairs Has Extended Business Hours for Part of January

The South African Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has announced that it will be extending its operating hours from 2 – 11 January 2019 to keep up with demand over the busy holiday period. In a statement released recently, the DHA said that several of its offices across the country will operate from 07h00 to 19h00.

The department said the decision to extend operating hours came after long queues were experienced in some centers at the same time last year.

“Extending office hours at large offices and selected medium offices will help ensure citizens and clients are not turned away before receiving the services they require,” said department spokesperson Siya Qoza. “This will assist also in managing queues so that people do not spend a long time waiting to be served.”

Qoza further urged citizens to use this opportunity to collect their Smart ID cards if they have received a notification.

“Those who have not applied for their smart ID cards are encouraged to capitalize on the extended hours and accordingly apply with speed, ahead of the general elections,” he said. “All other services will be offered, including applications for and collection of passports and registration of births, marriages and deaths”.

You can find a full list of offices which will offer extended business hours here.

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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].