Related Immigration Topics
General Immigration Developments & Legislative Changes
The current South African immigration laws were implemented with the Immigration Amendment Act and renewed Immigration Regulations in May 2014.
The amendments brought about a few positive changes and clarifications, but at large they are not - as widely claimed - making it easier for skilled foreigners to come to and work in South Africa. With a few exceptions, the opposite applies, and the visa application process has become more onerous, time-consuming and sometimes costly.
After a turbulent few months following the implementation - due to a lack of preparation, communication and training on the part of the responsible government department -, things have started settling down somewhat. The critical skills visa, amongst other categories, has opened up a number of additional avenues for qualifying individuals to obtain work visas for up to five years at a time. Other processes are becoming easier and faster as processes settle into a rhythm.
The Minister of Home Affairs has publicly stated that the implementation of the law changes will be closely monitored and necessary adjustments be made. Also, there are numerous court cases against the Department of Home Affairs pending or being prepared, so further policy and procedural changes are on the cards for 2015.
Submission of Application
IMCOSA handles submission of applications both in South Africa and in the country of origin of the applicant. An application can be processed and finalised in the country of origin or may need to be referred to the Department of Home Affairs’ Head Office in Pretoria, South Africa, depending on the details of the submitted application. Since the amendments of May 2014, applicants need to appear in person each time they make an application.
Applications for extensions or change of status by individuals already in South Africa are submitted to the nearest Visa Facilitation Services (VFS) centre locally IMCOSA will accompany clients to the interviews and guide them through the process. It is paramount that any such applications are made at least 60 days prior to expiry of the existing permit or visa.
Since the legislative changes of May 2014, it is no longer possible to enter the country as a visitor or tourist and to make an application for a work, study, retirement or other longer-term visa from here. Such applications need to be made prior to arrival in the country of citizenship or residence.
It is still possible to extend a 30- or 90-day visitor's visa from within the country, once.
Deposit / Return Flight Ticket
Prior to the latest legislative amendments, most applications for temporary residence were to be accompanied by a deposit to the value of a return air ticket to the applicant’s country of origin or usual residence. Such deposits are no longer requested by the authorities, and persons qualifying for a refund (i.e. those who have either left the country and do not intend to return, or those who have obtained permanent residence) are encouraged to submit their claims to Home Affairs as soon as possible. All those deposits which are due for refund will be forfeited if not claimed back by 28 February 2015.
Overstay, Leaving "on a receipt", Undesirability
When a person leaves South Africa without a valid visa or permit in his or her passport, he or she will be declared "undesirable" for a period of between 12 months and 5 years, depending on the length of time between expiry of the last visa and departure, and on whether or not this has happened before. Fines are no longer issued in these cases, and foreigners should therefore be even more mindful of the expiry dates of their permits or visas and see to their extension in very good time.
Persons whose previous permits or visas have expired, but who have applied for an extension or change thereof and by the time of their departure not received an outcome, are seen as having "overstayed" in the same way as those who did not even bother to make an application in the first place - they are equally declared "undesirable". However, appeals in this sort of scenario are usually processed fast and generally successful.
For more information on waivers and appeals of decisions to declare a person undesirable, please contact us.
Almost all temporary visas can be extended from within South Africa. It is to be noted that all applications for extension or for change of status are to be submitted at least 60 days before the expiry of the current visa. Applications submitted after such date can be rejected, even if good cause for the late submission was shown.
Customs & Imports
1. Permanent residence holders may on their first entry into the country import their household goods and personal belongings free of charge. Furthermore, they may import a vehicle subject to the following conditions:
(a) ownership of the vehicle over at least 1 year prior to import
(b) vehicle may not be sold or transferred within 2 years after entry;
(c) no left-hand steered vehicle registered or purchased after 1 January 2000 may be brought into South Africa.
2. Persons awaiting their permanent residence permit may make a provisional payment to the amount of +/- 50% of the resale value of the household goods. In the case of a 20 ft. container the payment would amount to +/- R15,000, in that of a 40 ft. container a payment of +/- R30,000 would be required. The provisional payment will be refunded upon receipt of permanent residence.
3. Persons in possession of a temporary residence permit (i.e. work, business or retired persons permit) may also make the provisional payment mentioned under point 2. Since the provisional payment needs to be renewed more or less every 6 months, this option will only be viable if a permanent residence permit is likely to be issued or applied for in the foreseeable future. Importing a vehicle in this case is possible against payment of a deposit of +/- 105% of the vehicle’s value, which deposit is refunded once the vehicle is exported again.
4. If none of the mentioned permits or applications are available, the goods will be taxed with value added tax as well as the usual import duty of between 25 and 45% of the respective value.
The larger South African medical aid providers offer similar services to their European counterparts and usually at a lower cost. In South Africa there is no public medical aid insurance and no legal obligation for an employee to be registered with a medical aid scheme.
By law South African medical aid providers are obliged to accept all applicants who are willing and able to pay their fees. However, costs for existing conditions may be excluded from cover for a period of up to 1 year. Often a general waiting period of 3 months is applied. Furthermore foreigners may be charged certain additional fees.
Similar to their European counterparts, South African medical aid providers offer various insurance schemes providing varying types and degrees of cover. Having registered with a medical aid scheme, the specific healthcare providers (hospitals, medical practitioners etc.) may generally be chosen freely. Most schemes provide cover during international travels for up to 90 days.
There is no legal obligation on the side of a South African employer to cover all or part of the medical aid payments, so any such payments are within the discretion of the employer and can be negotiated with them. Many employers cover half of their employees’ monthly payments.
For more information, please see:
Schooling / Education
1. Michael Oak Waldorf School Cape Town
Phone: +27 (0) 21 797 9728
Fax: +27 (0) 21 797 1207
2. Cedar House
Physical address: 5 Ascot Road, Kenilworth, Cape Town, 7708
Postal address: P O BOX 2365,Clareinch,Cape Town, 7740
Principal: Dave Campbell
Phone: +27 (0) 21 762 0649
Fax: +27 (0) 21 761 8556
3. South African College School (SACS)
Address: S A College High School, Private Bag, Newlands, 7725
Phone: +27 (0) 21 689 4164
Fax: +27 (0) 21 685 2669
4. Windsor High School
Address: Smuts Road, Rondebosch East , 7780
Phone: +27 (0) 21 696 2974
Fax: +27 (0) 21 697 4775
5. Westerford High School
Address: Main Road, Rondebosch, Cape Town, 7700
Phone: +27 (0) 21 689 9154
Fax: +27 (0) 21 685 5675
6. Rondebosch Boys High
7. Bishops School
Address 65 Camp Ground Rd, Rondebosch
Phone: +27 (0) 21 689 5708
8. International School of Cape Town
Address Postal: Private Bag 14 , Hout Bay
Address Physical: 161 Main Road, Rondebosch
Phone +27 (0) 21 686 2589