White Paper on Immigration

Why you should care about the White Paper on Immigration

Touted as a “complete overhaul”, the Ministry of Home Affairs published the extensive new “White Paper on Citizenship, Immigration and Refugee Protection” in April 2024. Placing the blame for backlogs, irregular migration, inefficiency, fraud and corruption everywhere but in its own back yard, it is a pre-election attempt to distract from the Department’s failure to deliver. 

How does this affect you?

  • Permanent residence may no longer be permanent, but instead limited in duration.
  • Intra-Company Transfer Visas, Corporate Visas, and Relatives Visas are amongst the entirely sensible (and very much distinct) visa categories that are earmarked for being scrapped. What they may be replaced with, and whether their holders will continue to be welcome in South Africa, has been left unclear.
  • If you are, or employ an asylum seeker or refugee, prepare for significant curtailments: The proposal is for asylum seekers’ and refugees’ rights to a) work, b) education, and c) free choice of residence to be removed, amongst other things. One may imagine refugee camps along the borders. Companies depending on language and other skills often found amongst asylum seekers and refugees, may expect to have a harder time recruiting. 
  • The proposed changes will not solve persistent backlogs in visa, permanent residence and asylum & refugee processes. The enormous project envisaged will almost certainly make them worse. The changes will not do away with corruption or improve the quality of decision-making. As a result, taxpayers’ money will continue to be spent in the millions on lost court cases. 

A counter-example: The Westen Cape government, through a team of consultants, has embarked on a stakeholder engagement project to identify key challenges and devise practical solutions in the immigration domain. IMCOSA was invited to participate in the process as one of the stakeholders, and we were pleased to experience pro-active, hands-on and transparent efforts to improve the system.

Past White Papers on migration have not been translated into law. One can only hope that, post- elections, this latest iteration will face a similar fate.

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