Change in South Africa Immigration Laws One Step Further - 09 September 2011

The much-debated and –criticized amendments to the immigration laws are now one step closer to coming into effect. The Immigration Amendment Act, No 13 of 2011, was published on Friday, 26 August 2011 and is now law.

A number of points remain a major concern, including:

· Removal of section 46, which provides that advocates, attorneys and registered Immigration Practitioners may represent applicants before the Department of Home Affairs. The concern is that the removal of section 46 will lead to the legitimization of corrupt and unethical "consultants", taking away from foreigners the tool to differentiate bone fide practitioners from illegitimate ones, putting them at risk of being exploited and defrauded.

· Application in person: The proposed section will require all applications to be submitted in person, where applications can currently be lodged via courier or through attorneys, advocates and immigration practitioners or their staff. It is a common occurrence for counter staff at offices of Home Affairs and at foreign missions to give poor or incomplete advice. Furthermore, there are language and cultural hurdles to be overcome. Immigration Practitioners have been shouldering the negative and tedious parts of the immigration process for their clients in order to ensure that the latter's experience of moving to South Africa is a positive one, and we are now working on the various means of ensuring that the immigration process into South Africa remains as smooth and efficient as possible also under new legislation.

· Effective abolishment of exceptional skills permit and replacement of quota by the critical skills permit: South Africa will be losing an important tool to attract highly valuable individuals, we are however investigating best possible alternatives in general and on a case-to-case basis.

In terms of section 27 of the Amendment Act, this piece of legislation will come into effect on the day to be determined by the president and published in the government gazette. It is to be assumed that this will only be once the Immigration Regulations, which provide the detail of the law (including specific requirements and procedures) have been finalised. No draft of such Regulations has yet been made public, and rumour has it that not much work has been done on this up to now.

It may therefore take anything from two weeks to two years until the law becomes effective (the last amendments of 2005 have still not) and IMCOSA will keep you updated on the progress.

IMCOSA - Immigration Consultants South Africa - Visa Services, Immigration Agents