Dear IMCOSA clients, partners and friends,
Herewith please find below our latest updates on the following matters:
Minister Gigaba on current affairs and immigration, discussion with the Minister and the Director of Immigration Services
Exciting Partnerships in terms of Recruitment and Relocation / Home Search
UPDATE ON IMMIGRATION RULES AND POLICIES
- Corporate Workers Can Change to Critical Skills Within SA
- International Medical Aid Accepted for Certain Study Visas
- SAQA Process More Onerous
- Business Unit at Home Affairs, Minister Launches Moetapele Initiative to Improve Service Delivery
- Travelling with Children
- BRICS Multi-Entry Visa, New Visa Centres Opened in India and China
- Business Permit / Visa Conditions, DTI Monitoring Compliance
- Challenges for Parents of South African Children in Getting Visas and Permits
- Spousal Permanent Residence Applications Being Investigated - Procedure in Practise
- Registration of Birth Process - Update
- Being Declared Undesirable, Appeal Procedure
In response to the horrifying anti-immigrant violence that has yet again been shaking South Africa, Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba has made several excellent statements (unlike president Zuma's largely misguided comments). He said: “From the outset, we would like to make the emphatic statement that most foreign nationals in South Africa make a very positive contribution to our society and economy. First and foremost, immigrants contribute towards our country’s economic development by investing in the economy, supplying critical skills including in our health facilities, teaching our children and youth in schools and universities and thus transferring their knowledge and skills to them.” It is comforting to see that this reality is seen at government level.
At an address in Cape Town during February, I had the privilege of being seated between Minister Gigaba and the Director of Immigration Services Jackson Mackay. This gave me the opportunity to raise some pertinent issues and obtain clarity on others, which has opened up some avenues to the benefit of our clients. It became apparent that the Department of Home Affairs' management is quite aware of and trying to tackle some of the issues, but uninformed or in denial about others. All in all, work in progress, but at least with the occasional highlight (see below). The overall review of the migration regime to better balance national security and economic growth, as announced by the president at the State of the Nation Address in February, was confirmed to be under way with an expected completion date of end of 2016.
Whilst challenges remain when it comes to visa and permit processes (poor decision-making, frequent errors and unfounded rejections, inconsistencies, frequent policy changes etc), and whilst they become more varied every week, there is finally a sense starting to emerge that things are settling in and previously murky waters starting to clear.
Immigration and Recruitment Solutions throughout South Africa
We are proud to announce a new and exciting partnership between IMCOSA and Initiate Recruitment! Emerging from the drive to excel within each company’s core competencies, while wanting to offer the best and most efficient packages to clients throughout South Africa, Initiate has entrusted IMCOSA with its clients' immigration needs, and together the companies will provide tailor-made Immigration and Relocation Solutions throughout the business landscape of South Africa. The partnership has led to an expansion of our team and a fortification of our strategic network, and we are geared up and ready to give both our "old" and "new" clients the best available support and guidance through the visa, immigration and recruitment processes.
Initiate contact details: http://www.initiateinternational.com/cm/contact_us
Relocation and Home Search Services
Our partners Sue and Darren McDermott are glad to offer individual and corporate clients professional and personalised Relocation and Home Search Services. The services in the Western Cape area comprise the following: Property Purchase specialised to the requirements of the buyer (as opposed to services of SA property agents), Property Management, Rental Accommodation, School or Nursery Search, Insurances, Banking etc.
Sue and Darren’s contact details: http://spacesa.com/contact.php
IMCOSA’s focus remains on enhancing and utilising our various channels to the Department of Home Affairs and it’s senior officials in order to achieve the best possible immigration and visa conditions for our clients. Please also visit our homepage for latest updates and news. Our consultants will be happy to discuss and explore with you any visa or immigration-related questions, be they around larger strategies or administrative details.
Tel CT office: +27 (0)21 462 3184
Tel JHB office: +27 (0)11 326 5131
As always we look forward to hearing from you, and we thank you for your continued support and interest in the topics at hand! Please find information below in terms of specific immigration topics.
With warm regards on our way to the wintery months in South Africa
UPDATE ON IMMIGRATION RULES AND POLICIES
1. Corporate Workers Can Change to Critical Skills Within SA
Excellent news for corporates, especially in the BPO or technical sectors: Companies and organisations whose staff currently hold corporate worker permits will be pleased to hear that they no longer need to send them home to apply for critical skills visas when they wish to retain them for longer than such corporate worker permits are valid. The directive confirming this was issued in late April.
2. International Medical Aid Accepted for Certain Study Visas
Another piece of good news: Persons with school-going minor children who have medical aid in place for them by an international medical aid provider (e.g. BUPA), no longer need to take up an additional South African medical aid for the children, as is required in the law. A directive waiving this requirement was issued for these cases.
3. SAQA Process More Onerous
The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA), which is responsible for evaluating foreign academic qualifications, has started including the documents' verification in its process. This means that foreign qualifications will only be evaluated once the issuing university (or other body) has confirmed in writing that they have, in fact, issued the certificate and that it is genuine. This process is already being followed for qualifications from the DRC, Ghana, Lesotho, the UK and the US. Naturally, such a verification takes time and money, both of which the applicant is expected to bear. The new process will be implemented for all countries from 1 June. Although target processing times remain at 15 working days, major delays and lead times of up to 5 months are to be expected.
4. Business Unit at Home Affairs, Minister Launches Moetapele Initiative to Improve Service Delivery
Home Affairs has announced the creation of a new business unit in Gauteng, which is to look after large corporations' needs. Corporates have to apply for membership and motivate their contribution to the country. Whether the responsible unit, which consists of a handful of officials and is already overloaded, will be able to significantly alleviate companies' visa and immigration concerns, remains to be seen. It may be wise to have a trusted expert join any meetings with Home Affairs in order to be able to put the relayed information in perspective.
On 12 May, a new initiative called "Moetapele" will be launched, a front office and leadership improvement project of the Department of Home Affairs, which aims to improve the way officials work and deliver services to the public.
5. Travelling with Children
Although tourism industry and ministry are still applying pressure on the Minister of Home Affairs, there is so far no sign of another postponement of the new travel rules for minors, set to be implemented next month. From 1 June 2015, a person travelling with a child will be required to carry the child's unabridged birth certificate (NB: a certified copy will be sufficient) and written consent from the parent or parents authorising such travel in the form of an affidavit (dated no more than 3 months prior to the travels), or a court order, if the child is travelling with someone who is not a parent or guardian or with one parent only. For children born outside of South Africa, the respective equivalent to an unabridged birth certificate (showing the parents' details) will be sufficient. If only one parent is registered on the birth certificate and the National Population Register, that parent's consent is sufficient and that parent can travel with the child without any further consent or order.
6. BRICS Multi-Entry Visa, New Visa Centres Opened in India and China
South Africa is intent on ensuring that its BRICS partners are accommodated under the new visa rules. Home Affairs has created a new 10-year multi-entry visa allowing a stay of 30 days per visit, available to business visitors who are BRICS citizens (Brazil, Russia, India, China). Seven additional visa centres have been opened up in India, and 2 in China, which is intended to ease the burden of traveling long distances to visa centres in order to make visa applications.
7. Business Permit / Visa Conditions, DTI Monitoring Compliance
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has developed fairly sophisticated procedures to checks on business permit or visa holders for compliance with their visa or permit conditions. Starting with in-depth desktop research to verify location and appearance of business premises, company registration, SARS compliance etc., the DTI establishes whether the business is up and running and, in fact, conducting the type of business described in the investor's business plan. The officials also conduct site visits in order to get an impression of the feasibility and success of the business, the staff complement etc. So, investors should not be surprised if they receive a call from the DTI, and should accommodate the officials as much as possible - it is important that the DTI gets to see the many legitimate and successful businesses run by non-South Africans, as the officials have been quite frustrated at the poor quality of businesses they have been visiting, which can have a negative impact on their recommendation policies and attitude towards investors.
8. Challenges for Parents of South African Children in Getting Visas and Permits
Home Affairs' blanket rejection of applications for temporary or permanent residence by parents of minor South African children on the grounds that such children are unable to support their parent financially and emotionally, has been continuing. IMCOSA has obtained a senior legal opinion confirming the unconstitutionality of these decisions, and a group challenge has been initiated. A response from the Minister or senior officials is currently being awaited, and legal action may become necessary.
9. Spousal Permanent Residence Applications Being Investigated - Procedure in Practise
In our last newsletter we reported that, as a matter of course, all permanent residence applications which are based on a marriage or spousal relationship to a South African citizen or permanent resident are being investigated to ensure that they are genuine and not based on a marriage or relationship of convenience. This has been confirmed by some of IMCOSA's clients who have experienced house visits and calls for interviews, dragging out their applications. Longer than average processing times should be expected.
10. Registration of Birth Process - Update
From 1 January 2016, the procedure around registering a child's birth more than 30 days after having given birth will become considerably more onerous. Parents who have not yet registered their child's birth with Home Affairs, including children of South Africans born outside the country, should do so before the deadline of 31 December 2015!
11. Being Declared Undesirable, Appeal Procedure
Non-South Africans leaving the country without a valid visa or permit in their passport will still be declared undesirable (even if they have an application pending or other good reasons), but the appeal procedure against those decisions has become fairly reliable and swift, at least for the obvious cases.
IMCOSA - Immigration Consultants South Africa - Visa Services, Immigration Agents