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Our Key Takeaways: Home Affairs Round-table in Cape Town

The British Chamber of Business in Southern Africa (BCBSA) was invited by the ANC’s Progressive Business Forum, which you can read more about here, to participate in a recent engagement with the Minister (Aaron Motsoaledi) and Director General (Thulani Mavuso) of the South African Department of Home Affairs.

The round-table took place at the Taj Hotel in Cape Town, and the Chamber was represented by our very own Lynn Mackenzie – Relocation Africa’s Immigration Lead – who was eager to engage with the Minister and DG.

The Minister discussed each of the main South African visas applied for – Business, Critical Skills, Intra-company Transfer, Corporate, and General Work – and was open to comments from attendees throughout. On the matter of Business Visas, it was noted that the various departments involved seem to be working well together, with the Department of Trade and Industry performing its due diligence.

Concerningly, consensus among those at the meeting was that there is increasing inconsistency between the Act and regulations, and their implementation, especially in overseas missions.

The transition to permanent residence was a hot topic, with practitioners insisting the process should be made easier. Many who move to South Africa still find themselves stuck in limbo, having to renew visas, while being under the impression they are on the path to gaining permanent residency, which brings with it a host of benefits, and allows the individual to feel more entrenched within South African society – something which the DHA assumedly has an interest in.

The Critical Skills visa list from 2014 is currently being updated, however the attendees’ experience was that the system is already in transition, with the new list being implemented in practice. The DHA did not comment on this matter. It is expected that the Department of Higher Education will give the DHA the new list by March 2020, however DHA has been vague about timelines up to this point. We will endeavour to share more information as and when we receive it.

The DHA claimed during the meeting that turnaround times for visas are an average of 4 to 8 weeks, however attendees noted they have not experienced this. We are hoping that waiting times improve in the new year, as the new systems officially roll out. Attendees were also happy to hear that there is frequent engagement and communication between the Home Affairs, Labour, and Trade and Industry departments.

Practitioners at the meeting expressed the fact that rejections are the highest they have seen in recent years and asked for data relating to this matter. The DG staged that data is available for turnaround times and percentage of applications approved. It was also noted that General Work Visa applications are rarely successful, and people are therefore refraining from applying for them. One attendee suggested to the DHA that this category is abolished entirely.

Finally, some meeting members conveyed their dissatisfaction with the bureaucracy in dealing with the DHA, saying that administrative procedures are, at times, excessively complicated. It is our hope that the DHA will cut down on this element of its practices and be more flexible in the coming years.

To end off the meeting, the Minister said there would be follow-up meetings, and regular engagement with DHA, which we greatly appreciate.

We would like to thank the Chamber for providing us with the opportunity to attend this valuable engagement session and thank Minister Motsoaledi and DG Mavuso for taking the time to hear and provide feedback in these kinds of round-table meetings. Relocation Africa looks forward to what 2020 will bring in the South African immigration space.

 

Relocation Africa offers a range of Immigration-related services across Africa. To find out more, 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’s e-Visa Pilot Is Live

The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has started with the testing and piloting of the electronic visa application system, the e-Visa.

The DHA revealed their plans at a briefing recently.

This follows President Cyril Ramaphosa’s promise at this year’s Africa Travel Indaba in Durban, to introduce a world-class e-visa system and reduce the red tape that travellers face when visiting the country.

Ramaphosa said at the time: “We must reduce the onerous and often unnecessary bureaucratic red tape that tourists who want to visit our countries face. This requires us to streamline our tourist visa regimes.

“As South Africa, we are committed to working towards the African Union’s goal of visa-free travel and a single African air transport market. We are in the process of radically overhauling our visa dispensation for the rest of the world and introducing a world-class e-visa system. The challenges are going to be ironed out,” he said.

DHA revealed in a statement that the decision to introduce the e-Visa provided many benefits. “It is reliable, client-friendly and convenient for visa applicants, airlines, trade partners and Home Affairs officials.

“Once fully rolled-out, prospective visitors will apply online for visas, at home, office or place of work. It will lessen administrative burdens, including those involved in receiving applicants at visa offices, printing visa stickers and returning passports to applicants.”

It also revealed that the department was testing the new system with Kenya.

“As part of the pilot, a team of DHA immigration and IT officials visited Kenya. This team is scheduled to return to Kenya next week, on December 9, 2019. The first Kenyan tourist who applied for the visitors’ visa on the new e-Visa system arrived yesterday (Saturday) afternoon and more are expected this week as part of the pilot.

“We are continuously monitoring this pilot process to ensure that user experience is not compromised,” the statement revealed.

China, India and Nigeria will be included to the pilot early next year, which will run until March 2020.

 

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: PretoriaTravel [1], [2].

No More Unabridged Birth Certificates Required for Minors Travelling to South Africa

SA’s tourism industry is celebrating, as the Department of Home Affairs finally made a U-turn on rules related to unabridged birth certificates for minors travelling to the country.

Home affairs minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi confirmed in a Moneyweb Radio interview last week that unabridged birth certificates will no longer be required for foreign children travelling to South Africa.

“We have given the instruction that […] it’s no longer wanted. You don’t have to carry it, you don’t have to produce it,” he said in response to a question on the issue from Moneyweb’s SAFM Market Update business show host, Nompu Siziba.

“The argument from Home Affairs was that it was to stop child-trafficking,” added Motsoaledi. “Then we said no, no let’s not trouble tourists with this. Let’s find our own way of fighting child-trafficking, rather than using this method, which interferes with tourism.”

Motsoaledi, who was appointed home affairs minister following the general election in May, has had to deal with the issue which dates back to when Malusi Gigaba held the position.

Despite moves to relax unabridged birth certificate regulations in recent years, it has remained a thorn in the side of the tourism industry and has badly affected foreign tourist arrivals into SA since coming into effect some five years ago.

During his interview, Motsoaledi did not go into detail on how soon the controversial rule will be abolished. However, industry bosses from the Tourism Business Council of SA and the Southern African Tourism Services Association (Satsa) say an official announcement is expected as soon as this week.

TBCSA CEO Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, who was at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa and other business and government leaders last Monday, tells Moneyweb that the matter was discussed at the forum.

“We were told that unabridged birth certificate regulations will finally be abolished, and we’re delighted at the news … However, the minister needs to have written confirmation sent to the International Air Transport Association (Iata) in order for this to be effective,” he adds.

Tshivhengwa says the sooner Home Affairs and Iata meet and finalist the matter the better. “I understand that the Home Affairs Department’s Immigration Advisory Committee will be meeting on October 16, so I expect an announcement soon after that.”

“This issue has been a concern for us in the tourism industry for years and tourism operators into SA have said that they’ve been losing as much as 30% in business due to unabridged birth certificate requirements. However, the impact is likely to have been much worse if you consider would-be international tourists being turned off by this additional red-tape. They would not have bothered and chosen to go elsewhere,” he adds.

Satsa’s CEO David Frost, who has vociferously criticized the regulations from the start, hailed the government’s U-turn.

“We welcome the fact that it will finally be abolished, but it has taken too long and has done a lot of damage. It will take time for the tourism industry to fully recover from this,” he says.

“The private sector drives the tourism industry, and the government should have spoken to us before embarking on the changes five years ago. They never wanted to hear us then, but we are glad that they have finally heard us. This will be one major hurdle out of the way, but we have our work cut out for us to put SA back on the international tourism map,” he adds.

 

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 Africa’s New e-Visa System

South Africa will pilot its new e-visa system in the coming weeks as it aims to attract investors and people with skills that are critical to building the economy.

Speaking to BusinessTech recently, Department of Home Affairs spokesperson Siya Qoza said that the pilot will be relatively limited to begin with as it aims to test the resilience of the system.

“The pilot will be conducted with Kenya first at the OR Tambo and Lanseria airports,” he said. “At the end of the month, we will evaluate the project and look at which other countries to expand the e-visa system to.”

Qoza added that the system is quick and has been designed to be as user-friendly as possible.

He estimated that the entire application process would take around 20 minutes, provided the applicant has all of the necessary supporting documents ready for submission.

Should one of the required documents be missing, applicants can resume the process exactly where they left off at a later date, he said.

Other changes

Minister of Home Affairs Aaron Motsoaledi said that his department is also lowering turnaround times for critical work skills visas, which are now issued within four weeks in 88.5% of applications.

By comparison, business and general work visas are issued within eight weeks in 98% of applications, he said.

“The department has also located visa services within the offices of various investment facilitation agencies around the country.

“In addition, visa requirements have been simplified for countries such as China and India, which are key markets for tourism to South Africa,” he said.

South Africa recently waived visas for travelers from Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, New Zealand, Cuba, Ghana and Sao Tome and Principe.

While countries such as Qatar and Ghana already have visa-free or visa on arrival agreements with South Africa, it would be considered a serious boon if South Africans could travel visa-free to countries such as the UAE and New Zealand.

Home Affairs said it was currently in talks with these countries on two main issues.

“We have entered negotiations with these countries with the first priority being an implementation date for visa-free access to South Africa,” it said.

“Once this has been confirmed, our second priority is reciprocity.”

 

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].

Two Major Durban Tourism Developments

Durban, an already popular tourist destination, sitting in South Africa’s third largest municipality, has two new ways of boosting travel through its borders.

Cruise Terminal

Managing Director of MSC Cruises South Africa, Ross Volk recently revealed that MSC Cruises will begin building its Durban Cruise Terminal in November. The terminal will eventually be 4516 square metres in size.

The news was confirmed at an exclusive media launch held at MSC Cruises head office in Sandton on 20 August. The new R200 million cruise terminal at South Africa’s busiest cruise port is due to be completed in 2021.

“MSC Cruises is committed to growing the cruise tourism sector in the country and Africa at large. We are investing heavily in infrastructure as well as training, which includes the new Durban Cruise Terminal that will also house the MSC Shosholoza Ocean Academy,” Volk said.

He added that the multi-user terminal will make Durban an even more desirable destination for cruise ships from all over the world.

“It will substantially boost tourism numbers, create thousands of jobs and lead to supplier development. The construction of this state-of-the-art terminal is an exciting project that MSC Cruises is proud to be a part of. The design phase took a little longer than we anticipated, but it was vital that we got this right as we want the Durban Cruise Terminal to be an iconic destination,” he said.

According to Tourism Update, the MSC Cruises fleet currently comprises 16 ultra-modern, innovative and elegantly designed ships.

It is said to be the world’s largest privately-owned cruise company and the number-one cruise line in South Africa, Europe, South America, and the Gulf. The company reportedly achieved 800% growth in its first 10 years, building a global reputation in the industry and one of the youngest cruise fleets at sea.

At the media launch, Angelo Capurro, the group’s Global Executive Director also said that South Africa is an important market for MSC Cruises and reflects its broader growing investment in cruising globally.

“In fact, in South Africa for the next cruise season starting in December, we will have two ships operating. The bigger MSC Musica with the capacity to carry 3 200 guests will be homeported in Durban, while MSC Opera will be homeported in Cape Town and have a capacity for around 2 500,” Capurro stated.

Coach Route

Intercoach has announced they are now running a route from Durban to Mozambique. With no direct flights between the two locations, it’s often an awkard transfer at Johannesburg that has to facilitate those who travel by air. But last year, things got a little easier on this commute.

The Maputo-Catembe Bridge was inaugurated by the President of Mozambique, Filipe Nyusi, on Saturday 10 November 2018. The three-kilometre-long suspension bridge, which extends 680 metres over Maputo Bay, has been lauded as a Southern Africa’s latest and greatest engineering feat, giving SA a direct route to the capital city of Maputo.

With this bridge now in place, it have shaved hours off of the journey time. And Intercape are ready to pounce upon the opportunity. Here’s everything you need to know about the new service.

Return tickets are around R600, which is multiple times cheaper than a flight. The trip takes 9.5 hours, has 12 stops, and officially opens on 6 September.

Four hours into the journey, passengers can grab refreshments and stretch their legs at the Hluhluwe PetroPort, before embarking on the remaining five-hour trek.

Border crossings, meanwhile, will take around 40 minutes. It’s essential you have the correct travel documents and your passport with you, in order to make any inspections run as smoothly as possible. You can no longer buy a visa on the Mozambique border, and travellers will have to sort theirs before departing.

 

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: flowcomm [1], [2].