Refugee children miss school to renew asylum permits

Refugee children miss school to renew asylum permits
12 September 2017 – Groundup
“My mom says I should be strong, but my feet always hurt from standing in the long queues” – grade 4 child
Chido, Esther and Irvin, aged 12, ten and six respectively, are missing school. Instead of going to class they are queuing at the Desmond Tutu Refugee Centre in Pretoria to renew their asylum-seeking papers.
“I grew up in these long queues, coming to get our asylum papers,” says Chido. Her family is originally from Zimbabwe but Chido was born in South Africa. To date her family has not yet been granted refugee status.
She says they usually arrive at the centre as early as 4am. Sometimes they have to come back to get their papers processed. This might mean missing school for days.
Esther, who is in grade 4 at a school in Pretoria North, says she has missed exams before because she had to be at the center to renew her papers.
Irvin, who is in grade 2, says, “My mom says I should be strong, but my feet always hurt from standing in the long queues. I’m always sad when we have to come back here.”
“There is nothing we can do because we need the permits for school. My mom is afraid that we might get arrested if we do not renew our permits,” says a young Ghanaian national in the queue.
“At school they need these papers or else they will chase me away,” says a grade 6 learner who attends school in Orlando.
“Home affairs laws should make life easier for our children,” says Ditto, a Somali national who only gave her first name. She has to bring her two toddlers, aged two and three.
“I hope my refugee status will be approved before my children start school,” she says. “I don’t want them to miss classes coming to the center.”
Spokesperson for the Department of Home Affairs David Hlabane said refugee children are accorded their parents’ status. This, he said, is valid for four years and they are expected to return with their parents 90 days before their permit expires.
But while Hlabane’s claim is true for people granted refugee status, it is not the case for people renewing their asylum status. People not awarded refugee status have to renew their asylum-seeking permits every one to three months.
In the long queue are small children, restless and bored, some crying and screaming. Some asylum seekers journey long distances and traveling with small children adds to the hardship.

“Maybe a small playground should be set up to keep our children entertained,” suggests Ditto.
Some asylum seekers in the queue suggest that Home Affairs should only require small children to present themselves on the first application and not have to return for renewals. Others suggest school children be allowed to renew their asylum papers during school holidays.
Hlabane said, “Home Affairs is not aware of refugee children waiting in queues to renew refugee permits. Please assist in establishing at which Refugee Reception Office this happens in order to allow us to look into the matter.”

Home Affairs wants one authority for SA ports of entry

Home Affairs wants one authority for SA ports of entry
Ewn – 21 September 2017
JOHANNESBURG – The Home Affairs Department says it wants to introduce one authority to manage South Africa’s ports of entry in order to create better efficiency.
South Africa’s ports of entry are currently managed by over 18 entities including the police, the South African Revenue Services and Home Affairs.
It says that this is just one of the new policies contained in its white paper on migration management.
South Africa’s ports of entry are currently managed by over 18 entities including the police, the South African Revenue Services and Home Affairs.
The department’s Jackie McKay says it wants to introduce strict requirements at the ports through one authority.
“We believe that by having a single border management authority we would be able to have processes at our ports of entry that are seamless.”
The department has admitted that corruption exists at the ports, but Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize says that they will be strengthening the anti-corruption unit.
“There are people who have been arrested through the anti-corruption unit, and we will be strengthening that.”
The department says it also aims to relax visa requirements for foreign students who graduate with critical skills.

Why Treasury wants to keep the 183 day rule for expat taxpayers

Why Treasury wants to keep the 183 day rule for expat taxpayers
Sep 20 2017 – Fin24
Cape Town – National Treasury believes that the 183 day threshold for South Africans working outside the country should remain in the proposed amendments to the tax laws.
National Treasury is in the process of repealing tax exemption laws on income earned by South Africans working overseas through two bills, the 2017 Taxation Laws Amendment Bill and the 2017 Draft Tax Administration Laws Amendment Bill.
If planned new legislation goes through Parliament, South Africans who work overseas could be taxed locally for foreign earnings from March 1 2020.
Following a public comment process, Treasury said the proposal will be changed to allow the first R1m of foreign remuneration to be exempt from tax in South Africa if the individual is outside of the country for more than 183 days as well as for a continuous period of longer than 60 days during a 12 month period. It revealed these changes at parliament’s standing committee on finance last week.
In response to these changes, PwC’s tax policy leader Kyle Mandy said he believed the minimum days should be increased to 325 to prevent individuals from abusing the law.
Days being manipulated
Speaking to Fin24 on Wednesday, Mandy said that one of the concerns Treasury had when PwC engaged with them was that the number of days spent outside the country were being manipulated by some individuals in order to take advantage of the exemption.
“The exemption does not require the employee to actually be providing services for the full 183 or 60 day periods,” he said.
“All that is required is that the person is outside the country for the required number of days in which case any foreign services remuneration will qualify for the exemption. “Staying out of the country for 183 days is relatively easy to manipulate where an individual is out of the country for an extended period of time,” he said.
One high-profile story involving a person benefiting from this was former Proteas captain Graeme Smith. Following his team’s early exit from the Cricket World Cup in 2011 in India, Smith got permission to visit his then girlfriend in Ireland, and then to return to India to play in the IPL.
Smith’s agent at the time, Craig Livingstone, told City Press: “Like any person who spends time outside the country, (Smith) becomes eligible for those tax benefits. Businessmen and other sportsmen are entitled to them, so why shouldn’t Graeme be?”
Mandy believes the manipulation of the law should be stopped. “If the requirements are a lot stricter – like making the minimum 325 days or even 250 days – it would make it hard for people to manipulate the exemption and would limit it to those it is intended to benefit, namely persons in long-term foreign employment.”
Why Treasury is sticking to 183 day limit
However, National Treasury said it was sticking with the 183 limit for now. Chris Axelson, director of personal income taxes and saving at National Treasury, told Fin24 on Wednesday that increasing the days to 325 would impact expats that earned lower incomes.
Axelson explained that the proposal in the draft response document and the draft presentation kept the 183 day rule, where those out of the country for less than 183 days would be taxed in full on their employment income (as per the current law), while the first R1m in employment income for those outside of the country for more than 183 days would be exempt.
“Given the concerns of the MPs in the previous public hearing on 29 August relating to the impact on lower income earning South Africans overseas, it was felt that the 183 day rule should remain, but alongside a R1m threshold.
“Under the 325 day proposal, if there were teachers, nurses, security guards or others on lower incomes who worked on contracts overseas for less than 325 days, they would be significantly impacted as the R1m threshold would not apply to them.
“With a 325 day rule, those in high income tax countries would also need to most likely pay top up taxes to SARS if they did not exceed the 325 day threshold. For those reasons we proposed keeping the rule at 183 days, but with the new threshold,” he said.
Parliament can request changes
However, Axelson said that the standing committee on finance could still suggest an amendment either before or after the bill is tabled in Parliament.
During this time, Mandy believes the days could be still increased. “I think it is possible that they will go back and acknowledge that the days should be increased,” he told Fin24.
“Treasury’s concern is that if they raise it, it will affect the lower income people who the R1m threshold is primarily aimed at,” he said. “They believe nurses and teachers will be negatively impacted by the increase in the number of days.
“I don’t agree with that as such professionals should have little difficulty in meeting a higher number of days requirements as they should be on contracts of at least a year in the vast majority of cases.”
Mandy said he wouldn’t be surprised if they do increase the days to about 250 days. “That would be appropriate,” he said.

You have overstayed your Visa, now What

You have overstayed your Visa, now What

Overstaying ones visa is a common occurrence among expats in South Africa and in recent months overstaying one visa has moved from being a minor inconvenience to a possible criminal offence with potentially serious ramifications. The changes brought about by the new immigration laws have made overstaying ones visa a very serious affair which needs a careful and smart approach to remedy. In this article we will explore the effect of overstaying ones visa and what steps to take to correct this now serious matter.
Effect of an overstay
An individual who remains the republic after his or her visa has expired is in violations of the Act. The immigration Act describe such individual as illegal Foreigners. Illegal foreigner are dealt with in terms of section 32 which provides:
32(1) any illegal foreigner shall depart, unless authorised to do so by the director general in the prescribed manner to remain in the republic pending his or her application for a status
32(2) any illegal foreigner shall be deported.
The seriousness of an overstay is clear from the section, anyone who is considered an illegal foreigner must be deported and there are no exceptions. In addition section 49(1(a) makes it a criminal offence to remain in the republic in contravention of the Act and on conviction the penalty is imprisonment for a period of not more than 2 years or a fine. In addition section 30(1) (h) renders one departing the republic on an expired status an undesirable. So what recourse does one have when they find themselves in this situation? The answer lies in the same section 32(1), the authorisation issued by the Director General.
Legalization of an Overstay
Section 32(10 read with regulation 30 provides for a mechanism to cure an overstay a potentially avoid any sanction for the overstay. This process is commonly referred to as legalisation and is given expression in the following section:
Reg30(1) reads – upon requesting authorisation as contemplated in section 32(1) of the Act, an illegal foreigner who has neither been arrested for the purpose of deportation nor been ordered to depart and who wishes to apply for a status after the expiry of his or her visa, shall-
(a)Demonstrate, in writing ,to the satisfaction of the Director General that he or she was unable to apply for such status for reasons beyond his or her control and;
(b)Submit proof to the Director General that he or she is in a position to immediately submit his or her application for status.
Reg 30(2) The Authorization to remain in the Republic as contemplated by section 32(1) of the Act shall be granted on Form 20….
In order to legalise an overstay 3 points must be complied with.
1.You must neither be arrested for purposes of deportation nor be ordered to leave. Both instances occur when you have been detected by Home affairs officials. Therefore you can only avail yourself to legalisation if you have not been detected by immigration enforcement officials.
2.Demonstrate in writing, commonly referred to a good cause. The applicant must demonstrate that the overstay was not intentional but a consequence of factors beyond the control of the applicant? It is not enough to simply overstay for no justifiable reason and approach the Director General where no good cause exists.
3.The applicant must show that he or she is in a position to submit his or her application for a status immediately upon being granted the authorisation.
Once the authorisation is given it will be issued to the applicant on a form 20. The applicant then uses the form 20 to apply for the visa. In practice however giving effect to this last part of the legalization process is quite a challenge.
If you require assistance with Legalization and have any questions on the topic please feel free to contact our offices for specialist advices.

German arrivals on the up

German arrivals on the up
11 Sep 2017 – Tourism Update
German arrivals continue to grow, even during SA’s winter months.
German visitors to South Africa have increased by 15% according to the latest report released by Statistics SA.
The German market has shown a steady increase over the last few months, with arrivals up by 24% for the month of June compared with June last year.
Growth in May was 5% and April 15.91%.
There are many contributing factors to the steady increase in arrivals from this key source market, one being the attractive exchange rate when visiting SA, the country’s warmer climate and the similarity in dialect.
Peter Munzig, Managing Director of Travel Management & Consulting in Germany, said there had been a substantial increase in 2016 vs. 2015 in German arrivals, and tour operators had reported that they expected another increase this year.
According to Munzig, South Africa is popular for many reasons, including game viewing, the country’s diversity, countryside hotels and even its city life.
“The South African winter is a perfect time for tourists to visit, especially the Kruger National Park, as there are reasonable bus tours for those who prefer to travel in groups. A plus is definitely that you do not need any vaccinations for the Cape,” said Munzig.
“If the exchange rate continues to be favourable for foreign tourists, there is no limit to further increases in visitors,” concluded Munzig.
The Western and Eastern Cape are firm favourites for German visitors.
Minister of Tourism, Tokozile Xasa and South African Tourism (SAT) CEO, Sisa Ntshona, attended the Internationale Tourismus-Börse (ITB) Berlin earlier this year.
At the trade show there was a panel discussion on SA’s growth strategy and SA’s status as trend destination 2017, as well as the role Germany plays for the South African tourism sector, highlighting the importance of Germany as a key source market.
“In 2016 we attracted more than ten million tourists, who came to SA from various parts of the world, which is a 13% surge when compared with tourist arrivals in 2015 and well above the global average of 3.9%. Of these, 31 000 were Germans, making Germany our second-largest European source market after the United Kingdom,” added Ntshona.
“The number of German tourists coming to SA grew at an impressive rate of 21.5% and for this reason we are planning to train even more local tour guides to add to the 400-plus who already speak German in order for us to better cater for German tourists.”
Ntshona highlighted that the German tourism industry had rewarded South African Tourism’s outstanding service to travel agencies with a silver award at its Globus Travel Awards in January.

SA home affairs minister outlines fees, terms of Zim permits

SA home affairs minister outlines fees, terms of Zim permits
8 September 2017 -IOL
Pretoria – Home Affairs Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize on Friday announced terms and conditions of the new four year non-renewable permit regime for close to 200 000 Zimbabweans based in South Africa, under the dispensation termed the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP).
“Conditions of the new Zimbabwe Exemption Permit dispensation entitles the holder to work, study and, or, to conduct business, if that person is an entrepreneur. It’s important to emphasise that it [the ZEP] does not entitle the holder the right to apply for permanent residence, irrespective of the period of stay in the Republic of South Africa. It will neither be renewable or extendable,” Mkhize said as she addressed a press briefing in Pretoria.
“The ZEP does not allow the permit holder to change conditions of his or her permit while in South Africa. A permit holder who wishes to convert their status to any other mainstream visa should apply timeously for such a visa from within South Africa, provided they meet all the requirements for that visa. We have quite a number of visa regimes … if, for instance, a person wants to be considered under the category of a student, or as studying, they have to come out of this one, and there are different conditions attached to that one. That would help a lot because there (the study permit) the period is fixed to a degree or diploma.”
Mkhize emphasized that the South Africa government believed that migrants play an important role in respect of the country’s economic development, and enriching social and cultural life.
She said the 197,941 holders of the current Zimbabwe Special Permit (ZSP), which expires in December, are allowed to travel across borders with expired ZSP permits and receipts showing they have applied for the ZEP, until the South African government has issued them with the ZEP permits.
“This new ZEP will begin on the 15th of September 2017. People have a week now, they have been expecting it and nobody will say it’s a short period. The ZEP is open and valid for ZSP permit holders only … the people who assessed the ZSP in 2014 and they have not been deported for criminal activities and so on, those are the people we are inviting to apply. We advise prospective applicants to submit applications online from September 15, through the VFS website,” said Mkhize.
The applications are made on www.vfsglobal.com/ZEP/SouthAfrica/com.
The minister said the cut-off date for submission of applications is November 30. An administrative fee of R1 090 will be charged. From October, the applicants will be allocated appointments to submit fingerprints and supporting documents physically at VFS Global offices in Durban, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Johannesburg, Rustenburg, Kimberley, Polokwane, Nelspruit, Bloemfontein and George.
“I trust that the ZEP will go a long way in assisting the Zimbabweans to rebuild their lives as they prepare, at work, in business and in educational institutions, for their final return to their sovereign State – Zimbabwe – in the near future,” said Mkhize.
Chargé d’Affaires at the Zimbabwean High Commission in Pretoria, Tamuka Robert Nyamuranga, extended gratitude to the government of South Africa “for the generous offer that they have made to thousands of Zimbabweans”.
“This is an act of solidarity, an act of good neighbourliness. I know there are many Zimbabwean nationals who have been living and working in South Africa, and they have made a meaningful contribution to the development of South Africa and to the implementation of the National Development Plan,” said Nyamuranga.
“I would like to call on fellow Zimbabweans, those who hold the ZSP, to come forward as soon as VFS opens for applications on September 15, and avoid the last minute rush that normally occurs in situations like this. I want to thank the minister once more.”
Under the special dispensation granted by Pretoria in 2014, Zimbabweans who had previously been granted permits under the Dispensation for Zimbabweans Project were allowed to re-register for the “non-renewable” three-year ZSP.
African News Agency

Zim special permit application process to reopen

Zim special permit application process to reopen
SA News – 04 August 2017
Cabinet has approved the reopening of the application process for the current Zimbabwean Special Permit holders, under certain conditions.
The initial Special Dispensation for Zimbabweans was approved in April 2009 to document Zimbabwean nationals who were in South Africa illegally.
Their permits expire on 31 December 2017.
The ZSP allows applications from Zimbabweans with a valid Zimbabwean passport, evidence of employment, business or accredited study and a clear criminal record and if successful grants them a permit to stay and work, study or run a business in South Africa.
About 200 000 Zimbabweans in possession of the special permit are currently working or studying in the country.
The cut-of date for receiving ZSP applications was December 2014. The applications were received by VFS Global and adjudicated over by the Department of Home Affairs.
The special permits were introduced to allow Zimbabweans a three-year residency in South Africa.
A similar initiative was granted for the Basotho nationals who were in the country illegally. The LSP allows for Lesotho nationals to live in South Africa legally.
At the time of the introduction of the LSP, the Department of Home Affairs said the special permits were only for those Lesotho citizens registered in the National Population Register of Lesotho.
South Africa granted an amnesty to Basotho in possession of fraudulently acquired documentation, so that they can surrender such documents, without the fear of arrest or deportation. Applicants receive amnesty letters as proof. – SAnews.gov.za

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