Dear Clients, Partners and Friends,
It is almost spring time (though the Western Cape may not be feeling this quite yet), and even on the immigration front there seems to be a welcome hint of rejuvenation and increased activity...hopefully the start of a positive trend.
Home Affairs Update
The buds, sprouts and fresh green shoots:
- The Department of Home Affairs' so-called "Track & Trace" (T&T) system is back on line and we are pleased to report that, after some initial errors following the upgrading of the system, there have been no significant problems or delays through the implementation of the new system.
- Similarly, the upgrading of the Johannesburg regional office of Home Affairs has not led to the expected delays or logistical challenges.
- Incredibly, even the waiver processes are showing very positive movement, with results being received and the backlog seemingly cleared.
- And just as applicants for permanent residence started to seriously run out of patience after waiting for results for 2, sometimes 3 or more years, a backlog-fighting unit has been established at Home Affairs' Head Office, which has the task of clearing 20 000 files by the end of the year. If successful, this should lead to a considerable relief.
The wilted foliage underneath:
- Processing times for temporary residence applications are still at a tedious 8-12 weeks.
- Although the "Track & Trace" system is working again, the 3 weeks offline have caused a backlog of capturing applications on the system that is starting to be felt at this moment.
New Immigration Laws (or the Ghost Thereof)
August has come and almost gone, and there has been no further news in the matter. As a reminder of why the implementation of the amended legislation is an important issue in the first place, herewith a word of caution regarding some changes it will bring when it does come into effect:
• Removal of section 46, which provides that registered Immigration Practitioners, advocates and attorneys may represent applicants before the Department of Home Affairs. The concern is that this removal 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 a much greater risk of being exploited and defrauded. Note: Immigration advisors will continue to exist and practise; however, there will be no more formal recognition in the immigration laws, therefore the advice is that persons should look very closely at factors such as the amount of experience an immigration firm has, what sort of qualifications and reputations the advisors and managers have, how long the firm has been in the industry etc.
• Application in person: The proposed section will require all applicants to be present in person and handing in the (prepared) application at the submission process, whereby currently applications can be lodged via courier or through legal representatives. (This in an attempt to curb any attempted misrepresentation.) The fact that clients may have to be present in person can be inconveniencing and challenging: Offices of Home Affairs may not be easily accessible to the applicants, queues are long, conditions usually poor, advice provided over the counter often incomplete or inaccurate. Furthermore, there are language and cultural hurdles. Note: With the above in mind IMCOSA will in the case of the implementation of the legislation accompany clients during the submission of the application and limit their required involvement with the Department of Home Affairs to a minimum, thereby continuing to survey and accompany the complete application process from start to finish.
• Effective abolishment of exceptional skills permit and replacement of quota by the critical skills permit. Exceptionally skilled and/or experienced individuals will be losing the option of a very flexible work permit. Note: There will be alternative work permit options, but they will be considerably less flexible and possibly more onerous in their requirements.
Fitting with the upcoming summer season, IMCOSA has entered into a strategic partnership with Engel & Völkers, in order to be able to accommodate any property purchase or property rental requirements of our clients by industry specialists. Contact us if you require any assistance in this regard, we will make sure that you are attended to at the highest level of service and the friendliest possible rates.
We remain with the very best wishes for a productive and successful four months that are left in 2013 - time will fly!
Julia Willand and the IMCOSA Team
IMCOSA Immigration & Consulting South Africa
Western Cape (021) 462 3184 l Gauteng (011) 326 5131 l www.imcosa.co.za