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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 African Department of Home Affairs Update Issued

DEPARTMENT OF HOME AFFAIRS GOVERNMENT GAZETTE, JUNE 10TH 2020.

Lynn Mackenzie, J.D., LLM

Dr. Pakishe Aaron Motsoaledi, the Minister of Home Affairs in South Africa, has issued the following directions in Government Gazette No. 43162, Government Notice No. 416 of 26 March 2020, as amended by Government Notice No. R. 518 of 9 May 2020, hereby, in terms of regulation 4(8), read with regulation 4(10) of the Regulations made in terms of the Disaster Management Act, 2002 (Act No. 57 of 2002) and published in Government Gazette No. 43258, Government Notice No. 480 of 29 April 2020, as amended by Government Notice No. 608 of 28 May 2020;

  1. TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS FOR CITIZENS AND PERMANENT RESIDENTS

South African citizens have been advised to, for the duration of the national disaster;

(a) Refrain from non-essential travel to high risk countries; and
(b) Exercise caution in relation to any other travel outside the Republic.

15.2 A South African citizen contemplated in regulation 41(2)(d) of the Regulations who, at own cost and subject to the capacity available on international flights permitted for evacuation and repatriation, intends to travel to his or her place of employment, study or residence outside of the Republic must provide the Department of Home Affairs, at least five working days in advance of the intended date of travel, with –

(a) a copy of his or her valid South African passport;
(b) a letter of confirmation of admissibility or the validity of the visa or permit,
Issued by the relevant diplomatic or consular mission or authority of the receiving country;

(c) Where transiting through another country, proof of permission to transit through such country; and
(d) Proof of the means of travel and the intended date of departure,
The Department when considering the request to leave the Republic may authenticate the information.

15.3 A South African citizen or a permanent resident who, for any reason, has been outside the Republic during the period of the national state of disaster must for purposes of admission, upon his or her return to the Republic, be subjected to such prescribed screening or examination procedure as the immigration officer, in consultation with a port health official or medical practitioner, may determine, and must be referred for isolation or quarantine, as the case may be.”

17E. SERVICES TO BE RENDERED BY DEPARTMENT OF HOME AFFAIRS UNDER ALERT LEVEL 3

The Department of Home Affairs will render the following additional services during Alert Level 3 of the period of the national state of disaster, in addition to the services mentioned in paragraph 17D:

(a) Late registration of birth; and
(b) Solemnization and registration of marriages”.

DECLARATION OF UNDESIRABILITY

21.1 A person whose visa has expired from 15 March 2020 and has remained in the Republic during the period of the national state of disaster will not be declared an undesirable person in terms of the Immigration Act, 2002 upon leaving the Republic during the period of the national state of disaster up to and including 31 July 2020.

21.2 Any declaration of undesirability that has been issued to any person who departed the Republic on or after 15 March 2020 is hereby set aside.

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accessing or using this document. Relocation Africa will not be liable for any damages or loss arising from using any part of
this document.

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].

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].

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].

SA President Visits Home Affairs Head Office

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa visited the Home Affairs head office in Tshwane recently, as part of his commitment to promote good governance and professionalism in the public sector. Click here to view the video.

On the back of bilateral talks with Nigeria, the President visited a Department of Home Affairs to ensure that asylum seekers were treated properly.

The department had been accused of being slow to issue asylum or other documentation, forcing foreign nationals to live as illegals.

Ramaphosa addressed staff and senior managers at Home Affairs in Tshwane.

“We are about to demonstrate to South Africans and the world that Home Affairs is at that top-level when we introduce the e-visa system which is world-class by any means that you can describe. But at the same time, the people of our country and the rest of the world will be expecting Home Affairs to continue to push the boundaries and push the limits and demonstrate that it can do even better than what we are doing now,” Ramaphosa said.

Ramaphosa met with his Nigerian counterpart Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday during a state visit.

The presidents of the continent’s two biggest economies reached 32 bilateral agreements following the gathering.

While Ramaphosa said that the recent xenophobic violence did not represent the values of either country, Buhari urged his citizens living in South Africa to adhere to the law.

Ramaphosa said South Africa and Nigeria agreed to elevate their co-operation to presidential level to revive relations that were battered by the recent violence.

Flight expenditure for undocumented migrants

Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi confirmed that R8 956 713.41 has been spent on charter flights and/or airlines by his department to deport undocumented migrants for the period April 1 to August 31 this year.

The minister made the revelations in a parliamentary reply to a question asked by DA MP Joseph McGluwa.

McGluwa asked Motsoaledi about the details of the charter flights and airlines as well as the total amount paid in respect of the deportations in both the 2018/19 financial year and since the start of April this year.

For the 2018 to 2019 financial year, R33 070 629.90 was spent on flights for the deportation of undocumented migrants.

DA MP Adrian Roos asked Motsoaledi whether he would engage with the executive mayors of metropolitan municipalities to conduct raids to combat illegal immigration.

To this, the minister replied that he “… has engaged with municipal structures on matters of migration and will do so on a continuous basis”.

“Joint and special operations to combat illegal migration are planned and conducted by law enforcement agencies at national, provincial and local level through inter-governmental security structures. All metro municipalities are represented in local security, provincial and national structures such as the provincial joint operational structures and the national structure,” Motsoaledi added.

 

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