UPDATE ON IMMIGRATION MATTERS
· HR / corporate representative: kindly forward to staff & management within your operation
· This newsletter also appears in the News section of our website www.imcosa.com
· Deutsche Version im Newsbereich unter http://www.imcosa.co.za/de ab 02. Oktober 2014
Dear Clients, Friends and Partners,
It is time for action - Amidst the mess and worrisome news having come out of Home Affairs during the last months, a first, minute and hard-won ray of light has appeared on the horizon, hopefully signaling more to follow: the postponement of the travel requirements for children to 1 June 2015 (see below for details). Home Affairs Minister Gigaba's announcement of the postponement was the very first public admission that he was hearing the calls from industry, business, and fellow politicians, in this case IATA, Tourism South Africa and the Minister of Tourism. The Minister has expressly invited stakeholders to engage with him on concerns relating to the Immigration rules and their implementation, and at this stage this seems to be an important route. So, if you or your organization are negatively affected and concerned about current immigration and visa rules (including any of the points listed below), please consider doing one or all of the following:
b) contact any professional associations, business bodies, chambers of commerce, universities and/or other; government department that you may be affiliated with and ask them to approach the Minister on your behalf
c) use any media channels available to you, either individually or together with other affected parties.
IMCOSA will gladly assist with providing any contact details or other support that may be needed.
1. Traveling with Children – Changes Postponed
The requirement for children to present unabridged birth certificates when traveling to or from South Africa has been postponed until 1 June 2015 in order to allow travelers sufficient time to obtain the relevant birth certificates. It is still advisable to apply now seeing that processing times can be as long as 6-12 months.
2. "Overstay" Still Leading to "Undesirability"
Persons leaving the country without a valid permit or visa in their passports are still being declared "undesirable", even when they had applied for an extension or change of their permit in good time (but not yet received the outcome due to the backlogs on the side of Home Affairs). However, the appeals process that has been put in place for these cases has become quite efficient and appeals are now processed within 2-5 working days.
3. Critical Skills Visa Largely Dysfunctional
The critical skills visa, punted as one of the major achievements of the new laws, is practically dysfunctional due to the fact that:
a) Many professions falling under the critical skills list have no SAQA-recognised professional bodies which would be able to register them and confirm their skills; and
b) Even in the fields where the relevant professional bodies do exist, most are not authorised and/or do not have the processes and resources in place to be able to provide the registrations and recommendations required of them by the immigration legislation. Consultation with these bodies has only started taking place at the end of September.
4. (Non-) Extensions of 2-Year Intra-Company Transfer Permits
Another example of a common sense-lapse/blackout is Home Affairs' interpretation of the law that on the one hand allows new intra-company transfer visas to be issued for up to four years (perfectly correct thus far), but on the other hand does not allow holders of 2-year intra-company transfer permits (issued under the previous laws) to extend their status, or even leave the country to apply for another 2 years from there – no exemptions granted. This is although since 2007 such extensions have been granted by way of an exemption, from inside the country.
5. High Rate of Rejected Applications
Since the legislative changes of May 2014, the number of rejected applications has gone up dramatically in the industry. A concerning trend is for rejections to be based on the "post-May 2014" laws, in spite of the application having been made prior to such date and therefore needing to be considered under the "pre-May 2014" laws and policies. In addition, there are countless obvious errors in the decisions, again with a glaring lack of common sense or regard for existing case law or the constitution. As an effect, the appeals section is hopelessly over-loaded and appeals can easily take 12 months and more to be adjudicated.
6. Extension of Special Permits for Zimbabweans
As of 1 October and until 31 December 2014, Zimbabweans who currently hold a so-called "DZP" (Dispensation for Zimbabweans Project) permit, may apply for an extension thereof until 31 December 2017, the so-called "Zimbabwean Special Permit" or "ZSP". Existing DZP permits will become invalid from 1 January 2015. A fee of R 870 will apply per person, whereby it remains to be seen whether this is including or excluding the fee charged by VFS (usually R 1 350 per person).
- About 200 officials have been identified to process the up to 245 000 applications, and one may therefore expect further processing delays in other visa categories.
- Seeing that South African police clearances will be necessary for the ZSP applications, the increased number of applications may also slow down the processing on the side of the Criminal Record Centre.
Let us know should you or your employees need assistance in this regard.
7. Sectors and Investment Amounts for Business Visas
The minimum investment amounts for business visas, as well as the supported and undesirable sectors have been published. New applications for business visas will only be possible in certain sectors and generally with an investment of at least R 5 million. Extensions of business permits will be considered differently. Please contact our consultants for details in this regard. Business visas will no longer be issued in "undesirable" industries, such as second hand motor vehicle imports, exotic entertainment and security.
8. Related Topics
- As of 1 January 2015, it will be harder to register the birth of a child more than 30 days from the day of the birth. It is advisable to apply immediately after the birth, and hospitals offer assistance with this process.
- In a rather bold move, South Africa has implemented a visa restriction for UK officials and diplomats, ostensibly in an effort to convince the UK government to lift visa restrictions for South Africans.
9. Beyond Immigration - IMCOSA Team Challenging Its Boundaries for Charity
The IMCOSA Cape Town team is excited, and somewhat daunted, to have entered the 2014 IMPI Challenge. The IMPI is a tough, muddy and sometimes scary trail run/obstacle course event which the team will brave to raise funds for Educo Africa. Educo serves young South Africans in one of the most challenging times of their lives. They help youth to both discover their potential and to live their potential by becoming contributing members of society and generating their own income (see www.educo.org.za for more).
Please consider backing us on this challenge and thereby assisting youth in overcoming their own obstacles! All you have to do is click on the following link and make your contribution. The IMCOSA Impis will appreciate it! http://www.backabuddy.co.za/champion/project/imcosa-educo-impi-challenge
We will continue monitoring and - where we can - influencing developments in the immigration world and will keep you informed about the most relevant changes. For the most up-to-date information, please keep checking the news box on our website, too. Recent information on a number of aspects - although unconfirmed - appears to be vaguely positive, so without unduly raising hopes, I dare to say that there are indications of the self-regulation of the larger immigration system possibly (and very slowly) starting to take effect.
Our consultants await your emails and calls in terms of any questions, concerns and service needs that you or your organisation may have. As always we look forward to hearing from you.
Julia Willand and the IMCOSA Team