South Africa – The forthcoming immigration changes

Visa South Africa 2014
Visa South Africa 2014

We have been waiting since 2011 to see the new immigration regulations come into effect and it now seems that the political will is in place to see them published in the first half of 2014.

Below we discuss in brief the announced prospective changes, whom it may effect and what you should do.

Removal of section 46 – this relates to the applicants professional representation and its removal will see the immigration industry become unregulated. This is not, we feel, a prudent route for the DHA to take and at Intergate we strongly believed tighter regulations were required.

Whilst clients can seek some solace in the normal recourse of law and South Africa’s strong consumer protection act, this development does leave the onus on the client, more than ever, to ensure they make the right choice when it comes to appointing an immigration company. The lesson is a simple one – ensure you do your homework before appointing your representation for immigration applications.

First time applications must be made in the country of origin – a great many applicants still travel to South Africa on a tourist visa and then apply for their permit at one of the local DHA offices. This will no longer be possible and first time applicants will in future have to make such applications in their country of origin. This will see the large workload the DHA currently has being dispersed to it’s network of embassies and consulates.

Whilst this will effect all new applicants in reality it does other than being South Africa into line with common international best practise. The correct planning will see this have little impact on new applicants and may even see better turn around times.

More of a concern is those who have made plans to make applications in South Africa in the near future, time is of the essence and applicants who do not apply in the very near future run the risk of having to travel to their country of origin to make a submission.
Business permit criteria is due to change – muted changes include the exclusion of undesirable businesses, increasing the amount of South African employees the business must commit to and reducing the period of time the investment into the business must be made by.

We do not have the confirmed details at this stage so further comment is difficult. If you are thinking of applying for a business permit we strongly suggest you contact one of our client managers so we may look at your individual situation and ensure we keep you informed of developments.

Work permits categories – when published the new regulations will see the withdrawal of quota and exceptional skills work permits. Apart from the obvious fact that no applications will be accepted under these categories once the regulations are published current holders of these permits may will be most effected.

Many current holders of these permits may have been expecting to simply ‘renew’ their permit on expiry – this will no longer be possible. If you do hold a quota or exceptional skills work permit we strongly suggest you contact us as soon as possible so we may review your options.

New work permit – the critical skills work permit will be introduced and the DHA has said it will publish the critical skills list on March 1st, 2014. It is hoped this will be an accurate reflection of the much needed skills South Africa currently lacks but until the list is seen further comment is difficult.

If you are unsure in any way of the impact of the new regulations on your situation please either email us or telephone us on +27 (0)21 424 2460.