Far reaching changes have been proposed to South Africa’s immigration laws and are due to come into effect imminently.
NEW regulations that will tighten up the rules around immigration, close loopholes for abusers and put in place a new regime for the entry of skilled people have finally been published for comment by Home Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor.
This has been 3 years in the making of the new regulations; these are the first major revision of immigration policy since 2002. They will have a substantial effect on all foreigners wishing to work and live in South Africa as well as the ease with which firms can import staff.
New Regulations changes are as follows:
- All visa applicants will have to present themselves in person when making a visa application and cannot be represented by an Immigration Practitioner or attorney at any Department of Home Affairs office or SA High Commission/Embassy abroad. This will be the rule for first-time or repeat applicants and will apply locally and abroad;
- Changing of status will no longer be allowed from within RSA. Foreigners holding visitor’s or medical treatment visas and corporate work visas will no longer be allowed to apply for a different (longer-term) visa from inside the country. (No longer be able to change their status from within RSA from EG: Visitor to a Work Visa)
- Predicament for unmarried couples:A requirement that in order to qualify for a life partner or spousal visa, an applicants must be able to prove that their partner-relationship is more than five years old;
- Study permits will only be issued for institutions of higher learning (universities), Further Education and Training colleges and primary or secondary schools;
- Applications for an extension or change to a visa must be submitted to the relevant office of the Department of Home Affairs a full 30 days before expiry;
- A zero-tolerance approach to overstaying a visa. Even a one-off offence may lead to being declared “undesirable” for 2-10 years possibly longer. Repeat offenders may be banned entirely.
- Salary benchmarking will no longer be accepted, and the Department of Labour (DoL) must now be used exclusively.
- Intercompany transfers will now be valid for a maximum of 4 years, thereafter the applicant will need to return to country of origin and will not be able to change his/her status from within RSA.
- Critical skills working Visa will replace exceptional skill and quota work permits. Unfortunately the list of professions to be included for this category have not been detailed as yet – and some exceptional skill professions might not be considered “critical”
For more details please feel free to Contact Us to discuss these issues.
Please also visit The Business Day website http://www.bdlive.co.za/national/2014/02/24/draft-immigration-laws-open-for-comment
To read the new regulations please visit: http://www.pmg.org.za/calls-for-comment/draft-immigration-regulations-2014