IMCOSA Immigration & Consulting South Africa
UPDATE ON IMMIGRATION MATTERS
21 November 2012
Dear Clients and Partners,
With this final newsletter of 2012, we would like to bring you up to date with changes and challenges that we are currently facing in relation to the Department of Home Affairs. These may seriously affect you / your clients / your organisation and its employees, and I urge you to read the following carefully and to contact our consultants with any questions you may have.
Home Affairs Update
The new (acting) Minister Naledi Pandor has her work cut out for her. In the short time since her appointment, she has been inundated with complaints about poor service delivery, excessive processing times, lack of accessibility and transparency and poor quality of decision-making. It appears that she is intent on resolving the problems, but what exactly, and when, to expect is written in the stars.
During the last months, processing times for temporary residence applications have become longer again and are currently at an average of at least 6-12 weeks. There is hardly any movement regarding permanent residence applications. On a cautiously positive note, there are early and as yet unconfirmed signs of improving response times to enquiries and action coming out of that.
However, the Department has come up with a number of policy changes that pose a critical and serious threat to large numbers of foreigners in the country, as well as to the companies and organisations employing them. All of the listed policy changes are highly contestable and currently being contested:
- Holders of corporate worker permits are no longer to be allowed to change their status or the conditions of their permits from within the country (i.e. change jobs, change position with the same employer, leave their employment for another legal activity such as studying or residing with their South African partners). They are to return to their home country and apply from there.
- Holders of corporate worker permits are no longer to be allowed to extend their permits from within South Africa. They are to return to their home country and apply from there.
- Holders of intra-company transfer permits are no longer to be allowed to change their status to a general work permit from within the country, even if they have been issued with a “waiver”. They are to return to their home country and apply from there.
- Applications for corporate permits by companies and organisations (including extensions of previous corporate permits) are being blocked by the Department of Labour and viewed with resistance by Home Affairs.
- Applications for waivers are not being processed, and the Minister now has to sign each one, which is being used as an excuse for the delays.
- Visitor’s permits with “authorization to work” (section 11(2) permits) are still issued very restrictively, extensions or repeated applications are disallowed.
- Time spent in the country whilst holding corporate worker permits or intra-company transfer permits is not to be counted towards the minimum of five years required to qualify for permanent residence.
In general, queries raised on applications and reasons provided for rejections thereof (if any are given at all) are becoming increasingly capricious.
Fortunately, thusfar no clients of IMCOSA have received a negative outcome to their applications as a result of these policy changes. This is mainly due to the fact that it is our policy to adapt to changes very swiftly and to advise clients about the various available routes as well as the risks and benefits attached to each of them.
Legal action against the Department
According to media reports of earlier this month, the Department of Home Affairs had to pay about R 46 million in legal costs for action taken against it. Numerous court cases are pending or have been decided, and the trend is for applicants and employers to increasingly rely on judges rather than the responsible administration to take proper, sound and timeous decisions.
Although senior officials have asked for patience in awaiting the Department to sort out its numerous shortfalls, it appears more and more likely that IMCOSA, together with other entities, will take part in legal action fairly soon.
Change of Legislation
There is no further news in this regard, the status quo remains as per our previous newsletter.
In spite of some disconcerting news in this letter, we can assure you that IMCOSA is fighting the necessary battles on your behalf and that we will keep you informed about the developments.
Seeing that the end of the year is around the corner, we would like to take this opportunity to wish you and those dear to you a joyful and restful break and, for those who have them, happy Christmas celebrations.
May you be able to look back onto this year with contentment and peace of heart, and to start 2013 with fresh energy and exciting goals, as we intend to do!
Julia Willand and the IMCOSA Team
IMCOSA Immigration & Consulting South Africa
Western Cape (021) 462 3184 / Gauteng (011) 326 5131 / www.imcosa.co.za
Date sent: 2012-11-21
By: IMCOSA Immigration & Consulting SA
IMCOSA - Immigration Consultants South Africa - Visa Services, Immigration Agents