New Critical Skills list – not just yet!

We have previously reported here about an updated critical skills list that was to be implemented on 1 April and of which we have seen the 2018 draft.

To date, the existing list is still in force and effect – although some officials have started applying certain aspects of the draft list, which is of course irregular. According to public statements by a senior official, the new list will be published for public comment during April, and input from business and the wider public will be sought before finalizing it. One hopes that feedback received will, in fact, be heard. For instance, the removal of the category of “Corporate General Manager” has been met with substantial resistance, which is not surprising seeing that this occupation is amongst the ones in “highest” demand, according to the Department of Higher Education and Training’s 2018 National List of Occupations in High Demand.

We currently do not expect any changes to the list before June or later this year. Keep checking this newsbox for updates on opportunities to comment on the list.

Hidden conditions on permanent residence permits

How long since you last looked at your permanent residence certificate, properly? Are you sure there are no conditions on it that you were or are meant to fulfil?

Thus far, Home Affairs has no effective system to monitor compliance with permit conditions. Once you have received your ID document, and if you are lucky enough to never lose that or your original permanent residence certificate, chances are that you will not be asked for proof of compliance. But with ever-changing procedures, policies and the ubiquitous risk of loss of documents, it is wise to stay on top of the obligations that you have towards government. Perhaps you had to prove that your relationship was still intact, or that your business was still running? Maybe your child has turned 21 and needs to confirm his or her status? Do you know how much time you are allowed to be away in order not to lose your status (since 2003, not more than 3 uninterrupted years)?

If IMCOSA supported your permanent residence application, it is likely that we will remind you of any upcoming conditions. However, we cannot guarantee this and the onus rests on you to ensure compliance.

It is always best to clarify these matters before they blow up at the most inconvenient times. If you are unsure or require any support in this regard, our team will gladly assist.



Asylum seekers and refugees may now apply for visas and permits locally - within limits

In response to the Constitutional Court judgment of late last year, the Department of Home Affairs has finally issued a directive regarding the local application by asylum seekers and refugees for visas or permanent residence.

The directive is not as clear as it could be (neither is the wording of the judgment), and also not entirely in line with an internal instruction to VFS (Visa Facilitation Services) by the Chief Director of Permitting.

As reported here last year, the judgment found that persons holding asylum seeker permits, awaiting outcomes on their appeals to rejected applications for refugee status, or who are recognized refugees, may apply for any category of permanent residence from within the country if they meet the criteria. The court also found that these persons may apply for temporary residence visa locally, if they meet the criteria AND if they first apply for and obtain an exemption (so-called “waiver”) from the requirement to apply from their home country. In paragraphs 61 and 62, it also clarifies that applications of this nature can be made even if the applicants – due to their situation as refugees – do not have valid passports.

Certain aspects of the judgment are not yet being implemented, e.g. the right to apply without a valid passport (as confirmed by the judgment) is being disputed by some senior officials. It will take some time until a consistent practice has developed here.

What appears clear – and we now have confirmation that VFS is implementing this – is that asylum seekers can apply for exemption/waiver of the requirement to return to their home countries to make an application for visa or permit. Whether the same is applied to recognized refugees, is not yet clear. If and when the waiver is granted (this currently takes 3-6 months), an application for visa or permit can be made.

Keep visiting our newsbox for updates on the matter.

New Travel Advisory – At last almost back to normal

The latest travel advisory relating to the documentary requirements for traveling across South African borders with children, was issued in late March and contains further relaxations. The key points contained in it are now:

  1. Foreign children traveling with both parents no longer need to present a birth certificate.
  2. South African children returning to South Africa with their parents need not present a birth certificate.
  3. South African children not traveling with both parents have to present the full set of documents, including: passport, birth certificate (unless the passport contains the parents’ details), parental consent letter, parents’ ID or passport copy and contact details, and if applicable, divorce decree showing sole custody, adoption order, court order, death certificate.
  4. All unaccompanied children, regardless of their nationality or visa status, need to carry full supporting documents as above.
  5. Foreign children with valid visa for South Africa and traveling with at least one parent need not supply the supporting documents.
  6. Foreign children from visa exempt countries (i.e. who did not have to apply for a visa before their travels) who are not traveling with both parents are “strongly advised” to carry the supporting documents. However, if the documents are requested and not available, the child will be given 24 hours to produce them.
  7. Where family members have different surnames, carrying proof of the relationship is recommended, but can be brought within 24 hours.
  8. In the case of school tours, all supporting documents (parental consent letter, birth certificate, death certificate, court order, copies of parents’ passports or ID’s)  may be replaced with a letter from the school principal.
  9. No supporting documents are needed in case of direct transit.  

E-Visas and E-Gates: tech revolution slowly reaching Home Affairs

Some of the new developments announced by Home Affairs in 2018 are due to be piloted in the course of this month. E-visas (which means online applications and no more need to personally go to the embassy or consulate) were to be available for people applying from New Zealand from April, but at the time of writing, no such option exists on the New Zealand VFS site for South Africa yet.

The idea seems to be to extend the e-visa process to other types of visas and beyond the holiday or short-term business visa, which will eradicate many issues experienced with missions. We are holding our breath!

Similarly, e-gates (machines performing facial recognition and taking fingerprints, as well as checking passports) are to be piloted now for adult South African citizens traveling without children at Cape Town International airport, to be followed by OR Tambo  and King Shaka International airports. The services will then gradually be rolled out to other travelers.

These are exciting developments that will hopefully make traveling easier and smoother and thereby attract more tourists and business to our shores.