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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].

SA Home Affairs Visitor Visa Directive

Visitors visas issued in terms of Section 11(2) of the SA Immigration Act to conduct short term work

The first visitors visa issued in terms of Section 11(2) of the SA Immigration Act (issued at the SA Missions), may be approved for a maximum duration of 3 months. Where a further extension is required within the RSA, an extension may be requested for a final period, not exceeding another 3 months.

Any person who has been issued with a visitors visa in terms of Section 11(2) of the SA Immigration Act and has had it extended for a further 3 months, shall not qualify for another visitors visa in terms of Section 11(2) of the SA Immigration Act, within that same calendar year. If such visa is issue with dates which overlap into a new calendar year, the dates falling into the new calendar year must be calculated as part of the new calendar year.

Back to back applications within the same year, by the same applicant, may not be accepted by the SA Missions and applications for extensions will only be accepted once in each calendar year.

It should further be noted that the DHA adjudicators have been instructed that when processing applications for extensions in terms of Section 11(1)(a) of the SA Immigration Ac (from within the RSA), they must ensure that the applicant does not end up having more than 180 days in a year.

For more information about visitor visas, visit the VFS website here.

 

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].

MPs Concerned About Home Affairs’ Contract for Visas

The Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs wants the renewal of a contract to outsource the processing of visas reviewed, likening it to the controversial Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) contract.

The committee recently resolved to write to Minister of Home Affairs Siyabonga Cwele to review the contract with VFS Global.

The committee heard that the contract with VFS Global was renewed for two years in December, without it going through the open tender procurement process. The department initially contracted VFS Global in 2010.

Chief director of immigration services at the department Richard Stolz said the extension of the contract “was legally provided for”. He said there would have been an “immense” reputational risk to the department if there was a discontinuity in their operating model.

But MPs are highly critical of the deal.

DA MP Haniff Hoosen said it destroyed job creation in South Africa because the deal meant that several local companies providing visa services had to close their doors.

ANC MP and chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Tourism Lusizo Sharon Makhubela-Mashele, who also attended the meeting, likened it to the South Africa Social Security Agency’s (Sassa’s) controversial dealings with CPS.

Committee chairperson Hlomani Chauke also subscribed to this idea.

“The extension creates a perception of another Cash Paymaster Services (CPS), which was the only service provider at the South Africa Social Security Agency said to have the capacity to render services. It is even more concerning that the department has extended the scope of work of VFS to establish services in countries it did not have previously,” Chauke said in a statement released after the meeting.

Several MPs said it seemed like the law was amended to deliberately give VFS Global a monopoly.

“Maybe, if we can’t conclude these issues, we must refer it to the Zondo commission [into state capture]. It is part of state capture,” Chauke said.

“Deliberately, you have amended legislation to create this monopoly. It killed all the small players.”

After being castigated by the committee, deputy director general of immigration services Jackie Mckay said: “We note all of the issues that are raised here.”

He acknowledged that it was not the first time that the committee had raised it.

“We take note of it.”

He said before the contract expired, they had started with an open tender process, but in April last year received a legal opinion to not follow such a process.

“That threw a spanner in the works,” Mckay said.

“We have no interest in who is delivering the service, as long as the service is delivered to us.”

Mckay said “serious, serious capacity problems” had been the bane of his existence.

“We just don’t have the staff.”

He said they had approached Treasury on several occasions, to no avail. This did little to appease the committee.

In his statement, Chauke said the committee would like to hear from Cwele about the possibility of going out on an open tender process and his plans to build capacity within the department to quickly process visa applications.

Cwele will be expected to respond to the committee within a week to ensure that the matter is dealt with before Parliament rises.

“While the committee acknowledges that Parliament has no right to inform the department on whom to contract for services, it would be a dereliction of its duty if it did not highlight cases where the department is deliberately breaking its own rules and guidelines,” read the statement.

“It is even more concerning that capacity in key tourism markets, such as Nigeria and India, is lacking, leading to few processed applications impacting on the numbers of tourists coming into the country,” Chauke said.

VFS Global describes itself as the “world’s largest outsourcing and technology services specialist for governments and diplomatic missions worldwide” on its website.

“The company manages the administrative and non-judgmental tasks related to visa, passport, identity management and other citizen services for its client governments. This enables them to focus entirely on the critical task of assessment.”

The company’s headquarters are in Dubai, its parentage is Swiss and it is a portfolio company of EQT, a global private equity firm headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden.

Last week, the committee also asked Cwele to investigate the department’s contract for the automated biometric identification system with technology company EOH.

 

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: PhilippN [1], [2].

Richards Bay Home Affairs Faces More Complaints

The Richards Bay Department of Home Affairs has once again come under the spotlight from disgruntled members of the public, who say the systems are constantly off-line, whether during load-shedding or not.

People wanting to make use of the department’s services, including obtaining ID books or smart cards, birth and death certificates or passports, are left standing in the late summer sun when the systems are down, sometimes with no time frame as to when they will be online again.

One member of the public said this issue has been ongoing for the past two weeks.

‘Many people do not have the money to make the trip numerous times.’

The department acknowledged that load-shedding has contributed to some downtime experienced at the Richards Bay branch, but that this is not continual, nor has the system been offline for two weeks.

‘Apart from that, there is a problem with the central IT server at the department’s Pietermaritzburg head office.

The spokesperson said there is nothing that each individual home affairs branch can do to rectify the problems with the central server, but that the Richards Bay technicians are hassling the technicians in Pietermaritzburg in their bid for feedback.

Five things to do to make your trip to Home Affairs easier:

1. Phone the branch beforehand to ensure it is operational

2. Find out the quietest time of day or quietest day of the week

3. Do as much of your application online as possible

4. Apply for your document in good time

5. Ensure you arrive at the office early in the morning

 

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].

Tracking Your South African Visa Application in 2019

VFS is an acronym that stands for Visa Facilitation Services. There are a number of companies to facilitate this process such as an Indian company known as VFS Global, which also handles other passport issues. Established in 2001, this private company is now, as the name suggests, in most parts of the world. So, what is the procedure for VFS tracking in South Africa?

VFS South Africa

In line with the changing South African immigration regulations, the Department of Home Affairs contracted the services of VFS Global, an external organization, in opening of Visa Application Centers across the country. These centers are located in Bloemfontein, Durban, Cape Town, Johannesburg, George, Nelspruit, Kimberly, Port Elizabeth, Mangaung, Pretoria, and Rustenburg. This move eradicated the need for applicants to submit visa applications to the Department of Home Affairs regional offices but instead encourages physically handing in of biometric data and applications at the VFS centers. Applying for South Africa Temporary Residence Visa or Permanent Residence permit? Here is how you can track your application after following the application procedure.

VFS tracking South Africa

Now, you have prepared your application, correctly followed the application steps, and after submission, you can track the progress of the process. Here are the simple steps for VFS South Africa tracking 2019.

  1. Visit VFS Global South Africa website.
  2. Click on the “click here” button and then enter the required reference number.
  3. You will be redirected to the page where you will be required to enter the tracking or AURN number and your last name.
  4. After feeding these details, click on submit and you will get information on your application’s progress.

Depending on the outcome of the application, you can collect the decision yourself, or send a representative to the Visa Facilitation Centre with the required details to collect the decision.

How long does it take to get a visa in South Africa?

Depending on the category of visa application, Temporary Residence Permit applicants can wait for a minimum of 8-10 weeks for the process to be carried out. On the other hand, Permanent Residence Permit applicants have to wait for 8-10 months. Since each application is evaluated individually, processing time varies. So, note that South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs does not give a specific length of time to process visa applications. How long does it take to get a visa to go to South Africa? For those in other countries, there is no standard period but it all depends on the visa policies in your country.

Visa costs in South Africa

Different countries have different regulations as well as varying payment systems and rates. In South Africa, visa payments are done online. If you have all the supporting documents, fill the online application form and pay the mandatory pre-pay minimum amount of R1,350 to secure and schedule your appointment online. This pre-payment can be made:

  • Online through the secure online portal using a debit or credit card
  • At Standard Bank, you will be required to download and then complete the online generated bank receipt and then deposit the cash into the nearest Standard Bank or make an EFT payment through a secure online portal.

It is important to note that after paying the amount, you can visit your online application form after three business days to schedule your appointment. For the Financially Independent Permanent Residence applicants, you will be required to pay R120,000, which should be deposited into the account of the Department of Home Affairs prior to the issuance of the permit, and the proof of payment forwarded for attention to the relevant email addresses.

What are the requirements for South Africa visa?

For those outside South Africa, the requirements for each country vary but there are some general things that you must have. These things include:

  1. A valid passport that has at least three clear pages. It has to have a validity of at least one month when you leave South Africa.
  2. A photocopy of the bio-data page of the passport and a professional passport size photograph.
  3. Self-employed people need to have letters from their business, certificates of ownership, and registration of the business. Retired people must present proof of retirement.
  4. A completed application form.
  5. A copy of a yellow fever certificate.
  6. A return ticket that can be verified or something similar.
  7. If you are going to work, you need a signed proof of employment from the employer.
  8. A non-refundable fee that you will be informed of during the application. The fee does not include the VFS service fee.

Above are the mandatory requirements. Anything else aside from this will be unique to the type of visa you want. For those in South Africa, to get the temporary or permanent residence permit, here are the steps to follow:

  1. Complete the appropriate online form and then pay the required pre-pay fee to schedule an appointment. Have all the documents required for the application.
  2. Go with your printed online application form, appointment letter, proof of payment, valid passport or travel papers and the supporting documents to the Visa Facilitation Centre on the day of the appointment.
  3. At the centre, collect a token and wait for your turn. After the application process, you will be given an acknowledgement receipt which you should keep safe as it will be needed for you to be given the decision later on.

Note that you will have to register your photograph and fingerprints at the Visa Facilitation Centre, and select whether you will personally collect the decision or send a representative.

The Hout Bay neighborhood in Cape Town, South Africa. SA is a popular destination for international tourists and for those looking to start a new life in a diverse country, with an economy full of promise, a rich history, and great weather for outdoor activities.

Can you travel to South Africa without a visa?

This depends on the passport you have. For example, people with US passports are free to visit South Africa without a visa if they are visiting for a period of less than 90 days. Other countries that have a similar privilege to the US include the UK, Norway, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, and many more. Regardless of the type of visa, VFS tracking in South Africa should be able to assist you anytime.

And there you have it. You now hopefully have a deeper understanding of VFS tracking in South Africa, as well as of the related costs and visa application processes. Hopefully your application is a success.

For more information straight from the VFS South Africa website, click here.

 

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: Julie Kwach via Briefly [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2], Sofia M [3].