Archive from July, 2014
Jul 31, 2014 - General, Visa    No Comments

Stringent new immigration rules to get R5m fast-track

2014-07-31 09:07 – News24 – SAPA

Cape Town – The home affairs department will not relax onerous new immigration rules but will fast-track visa centres and biometric-data capturing systems to reduce upheaval, Minister Malusi Gigaba said on Wednesday.

Gigaba said spending R5m on installing biometric systems at all South Africa’s international points of entry would eventually do away with the need for transit visas.

“That will mean that instead of us issuing people with transit visas, when those biometric systems are operating properly, we will then obtain biometric details and be able to check those against their travelling schedule.”

Gigaba was speaking after a two-hour meeting with his tourism counterpart Derek Hanekom, who has publicly expressed concern that the new rules were damaging the country’s lucrative tourism sector.

The new requirement for in-person biometric data collection when applying for a visa to South Africa, in particular, has met with concern from the tourism sector.

The ministers told a joint media briefing they had agreed to co-operate to increase the number of visa application centres abroad, particularly in India and China, who were rapidly growing sources of tourism revenue, but each had only two such centres.

The number of visitors from China has grown by 235% in the past five year, and those from India by almost 80 percent, according to Hanekom.

“In China, for some people it is not only a four-hour flight to apply for a visa but a four-hour return flight before you embark on your journey, because the visa is not issued on the spot,” he said.

“It is a highly competitive market and very easy for tourists to say ‘no, we won’t do South Africa’.”

Gigaba added: “We are quite aware that the offices we have at the moment are insufficient. We have the capability and the willingness to extend the visa facilitation to those areas of high volume demand.”

In India, government planned to open up to another ten centres, he said, and the department of tourism would indicate where those needed to be located.

Gigaba said he believed a major reason for complaints about the new regulations was confusion about the requirement for foreign minors travelling to South Africa to carry an unabridged birth certificate.

What was in fact required was “a document of that country written in the language of that country — it does not have to be translated — but is an equivalent of the South African unabridged birth certificate”.

Gigaba rejected suggestions that home affairs should first put in place all the necessary infrastructure before implementing the regulations to avoid teething problems.

He said measures to combat child trafficking and deal with South Africa’s vast numbers of asylum seekers, as well as security threats, meant the measures were years overdue.

“We must not be caught napping in any eventuality. We need to know the identities of the people coming into South Africa and we cannot know unless they apply in person.”

The new immigration rules came into effect on May 26

Critical Skills Who qualifies?

Critical Skills
Who qualifies?
The newly published “Skills or qualifications determined to be critical for the Republic of South Africa in relation to an application for a Critical Skills Visa or Permanent Residence Permit” – Immigration Act, 2002 (Act No. 13 of 2002) – Section 19(4), to be read with Regulations 19(5), lists the following as being considered some of the critical skills.

The Critical Skills List – Published 3rd June 2014
Business, Economics and Management Studies
• Agricultural Engineer
• Agricultural Scientist
• Forestry Technician
• Sheep Shearer
• Architect
• Construction Project Manager
• Land Surveyor
• Quantity Surveyor
• Urban and Regional Planner
• Actuaries and Risk Assessors
• Corporate General Manager
• External Auditor
• Financial Investment Advisor

Information Communication & Technology
• CISCO Solution Specialist
• CISCO Engineers
• Solutions Architects in Telecommunications and ICT
• Integrated Developers (PHP, PERL, JAVA)
• Network Analyst
• IT Security Specialist
• System Integration Specialist
• Enterprise Architects
• Data Centre Operations
• Network Specialist (Security)
• Database Specialist
• Microsoft System Engineers
• Network Controllers
• AV Specialist (Anti-virus)
• Desktop Support Engineer

Engineering
• Energy Engineer
• Metallurgical Engineer
• Chemical Engineer
• Civil Engineer
• Electrical Engineer
• Electrical Installation Inspector
• Electronics Engineer
• Geologist
• Industrial and Production Engineers
• Industrial Designer
• Manufacturing Managers
• Materials Engineer
• Mechanical Engineer
• Mining Engineer
• Production/Operations Manager
• Quality System Manager
• Research and Development Manager
• Ship’s Engineer
• Telecommunications Engineers
• Electrical Engineering Technologist
• Energy Engineering Technologist
• Mechanical Engineering Technologist
• Metallurgical Engineering Technologist
• Mining Engineering Technologist
• Air Conditioning and Mechanical Services Plumber
• Automotive Electrician
• Automotive Motor Mechanic
• Boiler Maker
• Chemical Engineering Technologist
• Civil Engineering Technologist
• Diesel Mechanic
• Electronics Engineering Technologist
• Fitter and Turner
• Materials Engineering Technologist
• Mechatronics Technician
• Metal Fabricator
• Physical and Engineering Science Technicians
• Pressure Welder
• Structural Plaster
• Toolmaker

Health Professions and Related Clinical Sciences
• Medical Superintendant/Public Health Manager
• Public Health Physician
• General and Specialist Medical Practitioner
• Hospital Pharmacist
• Nursing Professionals
• Veterinarian
• Registered Nurse (child and family health)
• Retail Pharmacist

Life and Earth Sciences
• Environmental Engineers
• Environmental Manager
• Industrial Pharmacist
• Aquatic Scientist
• Animal Scientist
• Advanced Composites Engineering
• Archaeological/Paleontological Specialist
• Bioeconomist
• Biochemists
• Bioinformatician
• Bioinformaticist
• Biological Scientist
• Botanical Scientist
• Chemical Scientist
• Computational Biologist
• Environmental Scientist
• Ecological Scientist
• Food Scientist
• Engineering Geologist
• Geochemist
• Geohazards Specialist
• Geologist
• Geophycist
• Laboratory Technologist and Technician
• Marine Bioscientist
• Materials Scientist
• Metallurgical Scientist
• Metrology
• Microbiological Scientist
• Polymer Scientist
• Protein Scientist
• Seismologist
• Soil Scientist
• Toxicology Scientist
• Water Resource Scientist

Professionals and Associate Professional
• Land and Engineering Surveyors
• Electronic Engineering Technician
• Materials Engineering Technologist
• Electrical Engineering Technician
• Safety, Health, Environment and Quality Practitioner
• Draughtsperson
• Mechanical Engineering Technician
• Chemical Engineering Technician
• Organisation and Methods Analyst (Incl. scheduler, estimator)
• Surveying Technician
• Geomatics Technician
• Quantity Surveying Technician
• Civil Engineering Technician
• Materials Engineer Non-destructive Testing (NDT)
• Materials Engineering Technician – Road materials
• Materials Tester
• Construction Safety, Health, Environment and Quality (SHEQ) Agent/Manager/Officer
• Aeronautical Engineering
• Architectural Senior Technologist
• Architectural Draughtsperson
• Astronomer
• Physicist (SKA)
• Geomagnetic Physicist
• Solar Physicist
• Space Physicist
• Plasma Physicist
• Space Technologist
• Space Weather Specialist
• Magnetic Technology Specialist
• Radar Engineering
• Radio Frequency Engineering
• Environmental Technologist
• Industrial Engineer
• Industrial Engineering Technologist
• Industrial Engineering Technician
• Landscape Architect
• Landscape Contract Manager
• Landscape Horticulturalist
• Mining Technician

Trades
• Millwright
• Boilermaker (For Strategic Infrastructure Projects)
• Industrial Machinery Mechanic
• Pipe Fitter
• Double Coded Welder
• Rigger
• Moulder
• Raise-bore Operators
• Raise-bore Foreman

Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)
• Software Development Engineers and Managers
• Systems Architects, Engineers and Managers
• Foreign Language speakers for specialist language support and technical or sales support (German, Swiss German, Flemish, Greek, Swedish, Danish, Italian, Dutch, Spanish, Mandarin and French)
• Business Analyst
• Quality Analyst
• Quality Assurance Specialist/Auditor
• Customer Service Manager/Team Lead

Academics and Researchers
• Doctoral Graduates (Acquired Abroad)
• Research in any of the following areas;
• Galaxy Formation and Evolution
• Galaxy Structure and Dynamics
• Pulsars and Black Holes
• Pulsars and Black Holes
• Pulsars and Gravitational Waves
• Deep Observations of the earliest Radio Galaxies
• Dynamic and Transient Burst
• VLBI Operations
• Search for CO to investigate role of Molecular Hydrogen
• Deep Surveyors of Neutral Hydrogen Gas in the Early Universe
• Cosmology and Dark Energy
• Cosmic Magnetism
• Calibration and Imaging of Radio Interferometer data
• Pulsar Research
• Pulsar and Gravitational Waves
• VLBI Operations
• Signal Processing
• Observational Radio Astronomy in General
• Algorithm for Radio Astronomy
• Signal Processing for Radio Astronomy
• Supercomputing for Radio Astronomy
• Software Development for Radio Astronomy
• Data and Streaming- Real-Time Processing of Massive Data Amounts
• Green Computing- Extreme Performance at Minor Energy Cost
• Performance at Minor Energy Costs
• EMC and Spectrum Management
• Beam Modelling
• Antenna Modelling
• Feeds for Radio Astronomy Systems
• Receivers for Radio Astronomy Systems
• Signal Processing for Radio Astronomy
• High Speed Data Transport
• Nano-photonics-Data Transport Power
• Nanotechnology
• Palaeosciences
• Reduction over Short and Long Distances
• Antenna Design
• Antenna Foundation Design
• RFI Shielded Buildings and Facilities
• Advanced Manufacturing
• Space Science and Technology
• Global Change
• Energy Security
• Information Communication Technology
• Earth Observation
• Natural and Applied Sciences

 

Jul 18, 2014 - General, Visa    No Comments

Most immigrants to SA from Zimbabwe

News24 – SAPA 2014-07-15 15:21

Pretoria – Zimbabwe contributes the greatest number of immigrants to South Africa, Statistician General Pali Lehohla said in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

“As you can see, Zimbabwe accounts for the lion’s share,” he said at the release of a statistical report on documented immigrants in South Africa for last year.

There were 1 939 permanent residence permits granted to Zimbabweans last year, accounting for 29% of such permits.

The neighbouring country accounted for 18 899 temporary residence permits, or 19% of the total number of such permits.

Lehohla said data on illegal immigrants, asylum seekers, and those whose permits were not granted in 2013 was not in the report.

The effect of new immigration laws on such statistics, if any, remained to be seen, he said.

“The intention of the new law is to increase efficiency… That will only be seen in the future.”

According to the study 108 711 temporary and permanent residence permits were granted last year. Of these, 6 801 were for permanent residence.

For both categories, most immigrants were in their 30s, however, a fifth of permanent permits were for children aged 14 or younger.

“Migrants tend to migrate towards urban areas,” Lehohla said.

The age profile of immigrants meant cities needed to be equipped, particularly with schools, to meet the extra demands of such populations.

“Not only are people coming for work, but children have to be catered for with schooling.”

Ages of applicants

The study found differences between the median age of those granted permanent residence from African countries and those from overseas.

Those from the 10 major African countries, in terms of the number of immigrants, tended to be younger than those from other continents.

The median age of those granted permanent residence was 30 for both Zambian and Somalian immigrants, 31 for those from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and 32 for those from Zimbabwe.

This was in comparison to an average age of 46 for German immigrants, 43 for those from the United Kingdom, and 41 from the Netherlands and South Korea.

The impact of new regulations on immigration remained to be seen. The new regulations, which came into effect in May, introduce a new visa regime for South Africa. They distinguish between short-stay visas and long-stay permanent residence permits.

Visa applications need to be made by applicants in person. People wanting to change the status of their visa can no longer do so in South Africa, but have to do so at missions abroad.

The new regulations also have strict rules applicable to children, defined as anyone under the age of 18.

Children travelling to and from South Africa have to produce an unabridged birth certificate with the names of both parents.

A child not travelling with both parents has to supply either an affidavit from both parents giving them consent to travel, a court order indicating guardianship, or the death certificate of the other parent, copies of the parents’ or guardians’ identity documents or passports, and their contact details.

– SAPA

Jul 18, 2014 - General, Visa, Work Permit    No Comments

Immigration regulations belittling citizens, blocking tourism and killing job creation

Haniff Hoosen, Shadow Minister of Home Affairs
15 July 2014

Honourable Chair

We meet at a time just 20 years since the father of our nation, Nelson Mandela, planted the first seeds of hope – when in his in his first sentence spoken in this parliament, he said:

“The time will come when our nation will honour the memory of all the sons, the daughters, the mothers, the fathers, the youth and the children who, by their thoughts and deeds, gave us the right to assert with pride that we are South Africans, that we are Africans and that we are citizens of the world.”

Honourable Chair, the responsibility to deliver on this right, rests with this department. It is the work that this department does that proves we are South African; that proves that we are African; and that proves that we are citizens of the world. The work of this department impacts on the lives of every South African and foreigner that enters our country.

This is why, Honourable Chair, all of us have a responsibility to make certain that this department delivers on its responsibilities in a manner that helps us change the lives of all South Africans and which breathes life into the hope and vision that Nelson Mandela had for us 20 years ago.

Lest I be accused of only criticizing, we must recognise that since 1994, this department has made many positive advances. We can document the many millions of South Africans whose rights and dignity, previously denied by the apartheid government, have been restored. The reduction in the time it takes to process and deliver passports is another example of the many successes of this department.

We must continue to make advances in changing the lives of our people, and we have a long road yet to walk.

Honourable Members,

Millions of South Africans still walk our streets everyday without the dignity of a decent job, and this department is not excluded from the responsibility of contributing towards job creation.

Take for example the advice of the National Development Plan where it promotes the migration of scarce skills into the country, a key contributor towards the development of a competitive commercial and industrial environment.

We all know that SA has a critical skills shortage. This is without a doubt a legacy of apartheid. It is imperative that we urgently address this problem in a positive manner.

But the new immigration regulations set us on a path to achieve the complete opposite.  This is probably one of the worst pieces of legislation that I have come across in a very long time. Nothing that this department has done before, will contribute more towards job losses in our country than the new immigration regulations.

Honourable Minister, if you are serious about building our skills base, you will reduce the barriers of entry for scarce skills instead of fortifying them.  If you are serious about increasing our skills base then you will offer incentives to attract scarce-skilled people, such as offering fee-free visas.

Instead you’ve now added a further surcharge of R1350 which VFS, the UK Based private company that now handles all visa applications, charges for their fees.

There are also huge backlogs in the issuing of permanent and temporary permits, and further requirements for permits only complicate the situation.

Honourable Minister, the solution is glaringly obvious. Open up our borders and lay down the red carpet for those who have the skills we require to build this country. Instead, Honourable Minister, you are doing the complete opposite.

The new regulations will undeniably make it more difficult for skilled foreigners who legally apply to enter South Africa. In an environment where our borders are so porous, and millions of illegal foreigners who are already in SA are slipping through the net because of a weak Immigration Inspectorate Division, we will end up with a situation where skilled foreigners will look elsewhere for work whilst unskilled illegal foreigners roam free in South Africa.

This approach only promotes a breeding ground for more xenophobic attacks in South Africa and does little to promote economic growth and job creation.

Let me illustrate another reason why your regulations are a bad idea:

In future, anyone travelling with a minor abroad will require an unabridged birth certificate. Now anyone who has recently applied for an unabridged birth certificate will tell you that the experience is a nightmare. In fact, it’s probably easier and faster to get a divorce.

Although the department promises delivery in weeks, in many instances it takes months. The main reason why it takes so long is because someone up there in Pretoria, has to manually verify the details of the parents before they can issue the certificate. Just picture in your mind what a primitive system we have when someone up there is probably running between hundreds of boxes trying to find documents to prove a child’s parenthood.

We urgently need to digitize the system in order to ensure faster turnaround times. This impediment will no doubt impact on the number of children who will travel abroad with their parents and in turn will impact on the revenue that is generated for the broader benefit of our country. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimated that in and outbound travel in South Africa was worth R24 billion last year. A quarter of this came from people travelling with children. This means that we place at risk, a potential R5bn in revenue, because of the introduction of just this one new requirement.

Honourable Minister, I completely understand your attempts to reduce child trafficking, but please sir, explain to this house why you introduced such a stringent requirement when you know that the Department of Home Affairs cannot deliver these documents in time for people to travel. It just simply does not make sense.

Let me give you another reason, Honourable Minister, why these regulations are going to destroy more jobs.

The introduction of VFS to facilitate the handling of all Visa applications will now render the hundreds of private immigration companies completely redundant. All these private practitioners employ thousands of South Africans who will now join their jobless counterparts on the streets. Explain again to the nation, Honourable Minister, where you expect these thousands of people to go, when finding a job in our country is becoming nearly impossible.

Let me give you yet another reason, Honourable Minister, why the regulations are bad for our country.

The tourism sector currently employs about 600 000 people. The National Development Plan suggests that the sector has the potential to add a further 225 000 jobs by 2020 and that this sector can contribute about R500bn to the economy.

The new regulations are causing havoc to thousands of tourists wanting to travel to South Africa. Already Chinese and Indian travel agents are advising their clients to seriously consider other destinations in Africa. I have no doubt this will have a huge impact on our tourism sector and I am sure that it will lead to further job losses.

Honourable Chair, I can give the Minister another 20 reasons why these regulations are bad for our economy and bad for job creation, but let me now focus on why it is bad for our image as a country.

Honourable Chair, the Value Statement of the Home Affairs Department is: “Committed to being people centred, caring, professional and having integrity.”

As a consequence of the new regulations, hundreds of foreigners who are forced to leave the country because the department does not have the capacity to grant them extensions in time are now being marked “undesirable”, and are banned from returning to the country for 5 years.  Many of these foreigners have families and sometimes children who are South African citizens. It simply does not make sense why the Minister is hell-bent on punishing innocent foreigners for something they have absolutely no control over. This is tantamount to punishing innocent people for the department’s incapacity. This just does not make sense, and these hurried regulations are now tearing innocent families apart.

It also does not make sense, to expect thousands of foreigners in the country to use only 9 newly established visa centres when previously this service was being offered at hundreds of Department of Home Affairs offices countrywide.

Let me also tell you that if you want to apply for a visa through VFS in Johannesburg, the next available appointment is somewhere in the middle of August. This office can only accommodate a certain number of interviews in a day and the diaries are filling up fast. Soon one will have to wait months for an interview and this will have a knock-on effect on the number of people who travel in and out of the country.

Honourable Chair, I want to tell this house the story of a Pakistani citizen who recently had to be interviewed by a home affairs official for a residency permit. The new regulations require that the husband and wife are interviewed separately on the same day and time to determine the authenticity of their relationship. This young man had to suffer the indignity of describing the type, the colour and style of his wife’s underwear that she wore to bed the night before the interview. He also had to answer other similar questions that invaded his wife’s right to privacy. I ask you sir, is this the caring, professional and people-centred service that we should be delivering?

Honourable Minister, I appeal to your sense of reason. Please withdraw these regulations. They are tearing innocent families apart, they will destroy the creation of desperately needed jobs in our country, and they will kill our tourism sector. Furthermore, the regulations have been prematurely implemented without the use of a Regulatory Impact Assessment. Even the Minister of Tourism, Derek Hannekom, agrees, so maybe this will count for something.

Honourable Chair, for years now the Immigration Services Branch in this department consistently underperformed. Granted, the reasoning for this is often beyond the Department’s control, but one of the main contributors over the years has been the historical under-funding of this department. It is particularly concerning that this year’s budget once again shows a 14% reduction in budget allocation for Immigration Services. We should not, therefore, expect many surprises in turn-around strategies if we fail to back this Department up with more financial support.

Honourable Chair, I would like to congratulate the DG and the DDGs for making available their cellphone numbers at Home Affairs offices and on the Departmental website. This proves that senior management is serious about the quality of service delivery and we must give recognition for this.

We congratulate you too, Honourable Minister, on your recent appointment, but when you inherit a department that has declining performance targets, a department that has received yet another qualified audit and a department with increased legal challenges, you have your work cut out for you.

I thank you.

Jul 18, 2014 - General, Visa    No Comments

Representation of Overstay Disagree

08 July 2014, 13:27 – News 24

Representation of Overstay Disagree

Jovan Velanac and Uros Velanac, who are stay in Johannesburg with their parents, where declared as undesirable persons on July 02,2014  when they were leaving the country on their way to Republic Of Serbia.

They have signed Declaration of foreigner as undesirable persons, overstayed by 53 days. (Children are 16 years old).

We collected all the required documents for submitting an application for temporary residence, extension of work permit (visa) ,and Home Affairs accepted April,10 2014  for  Dara Velanac (mother) and children to be accompany to her.

As we knew that parents (children) extended residence permit would already expire on the May,10 2014, we asked at the Home Affairs Office in Randburg, as well as the Office in Pretoria (phone call).

We asked,would children still be able to leave the country and return to the South Africa  in the meantime or if they have to remain in South Africa and wait for the outcome application, which are still pending.

Advice, we (parents) received from the spokesperson of Department of Home Affairs, that travel out and in South Africa is legal with Acknowledge of Receipt, because for the “people who applied (their mother) before the new law came into operation ,application still stand ,and will not be subject to the new rules ,means the new law does not apply retrospectively.”

Children were invited by Serbian community in collaboration with the Serbian Orthodox Church St. Toma, The Serbian Embassy (Pretoria) and Serbian school St. Sava in Johannesburg to represent South Africa in Traditional Dance (together with 15 boys and girls) and visit Republic of Serbia from July,02   until   July,20  2014.

On July 02 ,2014 children  checked in at Tambo International Airport  to visit Republic of Serbia, and presented their passport t.

Immigration Officer informed children and guardian that the regulations had changed on and that children would now be banned from the RSA without parents knowledge  ,and given document to children to sign (they are 16 years old).

The following list has the purpose of showing you good causes why children should not be banned and not to be an undesirable persons to the RSA.
1) Throughout all family entire applications process we have follow all instructions from the Department of Home Affairs. (include last 6 years)

2)We submitted all applications in time ,and Sinisa Velanac (father) have valid work permit ref. No JHB 14522/2013/TRV  issued at Head Office on July,29  2013.

3)  Home Affairs in Randburg and in Pretoria advise children’s parents still be able to leave the country and return to the South Africa , while still waiting for the outcome of applications.

4) It is contradictory to stay in the country even without a valid permit-visa and then punish children for overstaying parents permit- visa and wait for the outcome application, which are still pending 3 months period .

5) Never in South Africa, not in any other country our family – CHILDREN ever committed any crime or acted in contradiction to the law.

6) Children attending school King Edwards VII,Houghton,11 class and also finished primary school Pridwin, in Melrose, Johannesburg.

7) Parents and are not advised and contents of this notice didn’t interpreted to guardian to understand explanation that children found declared undesirable of the fallowing overstayed not be able to come back at home in South Africa

8) Declaration of foreigner as undesirable person is signed by the children who are 16 years old, without any other signed document from guardian and parents.

9) Children suppose not to be deported back to origin of country-Serbia, because they are minors (16 years old),without parents or guardian permission and have no one to welcome them and give them safety and accommodation. Their parents and home is here, in South Africa.

We are  confident  that the above mentioned will convince you that children cannot be considered as an undesirable persons and therefore should not be prohibited from re-entering the country.

We are looking forward to a positive outcome of this appeal and remain with our

Sincere regards,

Family  ,SinisaVelanac (father)                 Dara Velanac (mother)

Jul 18, 2014 - General, Visa    No Comments

Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Fatima Chohan’s speech on the 2014 Budget Vote debate in Parliament today

Published: 15 July 2014

2014 BUDGET SPEECH DEBATE: 15 JULY 2014 

Chairperson

Today, as we greet and welcome all of our guests Chairperson, I wish to recognize two special guests:  Firstly, Mrs Nora de Kock recently received her smart ID card at age 104. She was so delighted that she agreed to come to Parliament today to thank Home Affairs in person.  Ouma, ons is baie bly om u hier hartlik te verwelkom.

The second special guest is a Grade 11 learner from Mountview High in Hanover Park.

Young Tasneem de Jongh was the team leader of an international group of schools who participated in the Commonwealth Games Classroom Project.  The various participating schools had to write essays about their school experience and Tasneem’s group won.  For her prize Tasneem will be travelling to the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, Scotland next week.  We were pleased to be able to facilitate an urgent passport for her and wish to congratulate her and her team, who are here today, on their achievement.   Joining her too is her teacher, Mr Reginald Assure as well as the Principal of Mountview High School, Mr Archie Benjamin.  Thank you for your hard work and dedication and for showing South Africa that in this 20 year old democracy success is not dependent on who you are or where you come from (for those of you who don’t know – Mountview is situated in Hanover Park in the heart of the Cape Flats).

What you have shown us is that in our country success is only dependant on putting in the time and the dedicated effort.

We will continue to work within our communities and support such initiatives to move SA forward.

The Department of Home Affairs has a key role to play in the safety and security of our country and its citizens.  It contributes directly to three of the 12 national outcomes – that all people in South Africa should feel and be safe, that our country should have a skilled and capable workforce to support an inclusive growth path, and that we need to develop an empowered, fair and inclusive citizenship.

My specific areas of responsibility – the management of refugees, legal services and the front office improvement project – are all linked to these outcomes that the Department is committed to achieve.

South Africa is part of a global world where the security and socio-economic realities in one country impacts on the security and economy of other countries.  On the one hand we have an obligation in terms of our values as a nation to fulfill our constitutional and international obligations to protect persons who have a well-founded fear of persecution; or are escaping from life-threatening situations.  To this end, we need to adjudicate asylum seekers efficiently, fairly and humanely and integrate those persons accorded refugee status into our communities.  On the other hand, we need to put a stop to the large scale of abuse of the asylum seeker system in South Africa as this places genuine asylum seekers at a disadvantage and create social and economic risks for the country.

The March 2014 Asylum Statistics report of the Department, which is an analysis of our asylum database for 2013, portrays a picture of a gradual decline in the number of registered asylum seekers in 2013.  Despite this, the activity at the Marabastad Refuge Reception office suggests the opposite.  The report therefore comes to the conclusion that there are concurrently push factors in the countries of origin fueled by the “pull” factors in South Africa.  This will continue to generate the high numbers of new arrivals to our shores.

One of our major challenges in this regard is that many people who seek asylum in South Africa are actually economic migrants who use the asylum seeker process to avoid applying for a visa under the Immigration Act.

The standard push factors include the unpredictability of the socio-political situation within SADC and the Eastern African regions, the continued impact of the world economic meltdown, the perception of South Africa as a country of better socio-economic opportunities as well as the notion that South Africa is a route to the world beyond.

The Asylum Statistics report shows that these push and pull factors have contributed to a total number of 70 010 new arrivals being registered in 2013.  Just under 50% of new Asylum Seekers are from the SADC region with Zimbabawe being the largest asylum seeking country – (16 420), the DRC (7 175), Mozambique and Lesotho at approximately 3500 each and Malawi 2 493 Asylum Seekers from West and East Africa constituted 32% of the overall applicants, the rest are received from South and Central Eastern Asia.

70% or 48 646 of 2013 new arrivals were registered by the Pretoria Refugee Reception Office, up from 59% or 36 254 in 2012. Musina Refugee Reception Office, which officially became operational in July 2008 as an outpost office to serve as a contingency measure in handling the large influx of asylum seekers coming through Beit Bridge Border Post, accounted for 19% or 13 622 of new applications, 3% more than in 2012.  Durban Refugee Reception Office handled 9% or 6412 of new applicants, up from 7%.  Cape Town Refugee Reception Office, which accounted for 17% of new asylum seekers in 2012, processed only 1% of registered asylum applications in 2013 as the office stopped receiving new applications as from 1 July 2012.  Our decision with regard to the Cape Town office was initially successfully challenged in Court, but the Court of Appeal reaffirmed the Department’s right to determine policy matters of this nature.  This decision is in line with our policy position to in future strategically locate refugee reception centres at the borders and not in the hinterland.

Gauteng has remained the hub in 2013 with 71% registered new arrivals and other provinces received a combined 29%.  This adds significantly to the urban influx challenges faced by that province and the competition for scarce resources leads to other social and economic challenges.

A total of 68 241 registered asylum claims were adjudicated and finalised at the first instance Refugee Status determination between January and December 2013.  Of these claims, a total of 10,6% were approved and 30% were rejected as unfounded. Altogether, 52% were rejected as manifestly unfounded, fraudulent and abusive.

These statistics are critical in informing our policy development for the future.  It also indicates that we are making important strides in terms of our adjudication process at refugee reception offices.

In terms of the National Development Plan’s objective to facilitate faster and more inclusive economic growth, we need refugee policies, legislation and processes which will address national priorities, maximize benefits and reduce risks to the country.

To this end, we will amongst other matters:

Firstly, we will finalise the implementation of our policy position to relocate refugee reception centres closer to the borderlines, with the assistance of the Public Works department.

Secondly, we will improve international cooperation, especially in the SADC region, with regard to asylum seeker and refugee management.  We need an agreement between SADC countries in dealing with refugees and asylum seekers who are 3rd country nationals and how to implement the “first safe country” principle.

Thirdly, we are developing an immigration policy document which proposes strategies regarding the management of unskilled economic migration. We aim to streamline the refugee process and to integrate genuine refugees into our society.

Legal Services is responsible for drafting, litigation and contracts.

Apart from drafting the amendments to the Refugees Act and the regulations in terms thereof, Legal Services is currently preparing draft legislation that will lead to the establishment of the Border Management Agency that will play a critical role in our future immigration regime.  It will also draft amendments to the Immigration Act that may be required following amended refugee legislation.

The Directorate: Litigation will continue to assist the Department in opposing motions or defending claims, as the case may be.  In this regard the Directorate: Litigation has set itself a target of a 76% success rate on average for the 2014/15 financial year in finalised litigation (cases heard in Court and decided in favour of the Department after argument).  For the previous financial year (2013/14) the Directorate:  Litigation’s success rate on average over the reporting period was 84%.  The Directorate:  Contracts on average finalised 93,5% of the contracts received for scrutiny or drafting within one month of receipt thereof during the 2013/14 financial year, and 100% of these contracts were quality assured for compliance with set criteria to assess contracts.  For the 2014/15 financial year the Directorate:  Contracts has set itself a target to finalise on average over the reporting period 91% of the contracts received for scrutiny or drafting within one month of receipt. This Directorate has also played a major role in ensuring that contracts and work orders pertaining to the modernisation of the Department were finalised and concluded, which ultimately lead to, amongst others, the successful implementation of the smart ID card.

During the 2014/15 financial year we will also endeavour to fill the vacant funded positions within the Chief Directorate:  Legal Services following the reprioritisation of the budget of the Department for Compensation of Employees.

In 2009 the Department of Home Affairs initiated a pilot project aimed at revitalising the look and feel of our front offices and make them user friendly with clear signage to enable proper workflow and queue management. The project has been rolled out in a number of our offices in accordance with the available budget.

The Minister has delegated to me the task of improving the client experience at each of our front offices.

After a comprehensive consultation process the details of the project will be finalised and announced.

Chairperson, Honourable Members, most if not all South Africans would agree that there has been steadfast improvement in the Department of Home Affairs.  We remain committed to further improve our operations to ensure that we have a safe and secure South Africa where all of our people are proud of, and value, their identity and citizenship.

I thank you.

Jul 18, 2014 - General, Visa    No Comments

South Africa: Study Reveals Preference for Foreign Black Migrants in Some Sectors of South African Economy

By Saliem Fakir, 17 July 2014 – Allafrica.com

In the city where I live, Cape Town, it’s not unusual to hear a foreign accent or see a foreigner. Foreigners are part of the intricate web, not only of the Cape’s economy, but also of the rest of South Africa.

Foreigners arouse one’s curiosity. Some are treated better than others, but there are always questions in people’s minds – how did they make their entry into South Africa? Where did they come from? Why did they come here? Who employs them?

Despite our talk of African Ubuntu, black on black violence easily flares when African immigrants compete with domestic labour, especially in the unskilled and semi-skilled sectors. What does this mean for South Africa’s economy given our history of xenophobia?

At the heart of the problem is the view that foreigners are seen as taking away local jobs. There is some truth to this, but foreigners also contribute to the economy as well as creating jobs just like my father did when he arrived from India and set up a little enterprise in South Africa.

In Cape Town, African immigrants occupy low wage or casual positions, such as cashiers in supermarkets, security guards, waitrons at restaurants, parking meter attendants in the central business district and so on. After twenty-years of democracy, this new wave of African labour from the rest of the continent is normal.

Everyday conversations with African immigrants reveal that many are educated, but cannot find employment in their own countries either due to hostile political conditions or poor economic growth.

Many also originate from countries with economies that are highly resource dependent and have insufficient economic diversification to capture the educated work force.

Foreign migrant labour in South Africa is unique compared to other countries. A recent report by the Migration for Work Research Consortium (MiWORC) notes that South Africa is unique because international migrants are less discriminated against than migrants elsewhere in the world.

The report states, “An international migrant with the same age, gender, level of education, belonging to the same population group and residing in the same place as a native South African, has a higher probability of being employed than the latter.”

Why this anomaly?

To answer the question bluntly, South Africa’s international migrants are loved by some sectors of the economy and loathed by others.

This preference for foreign labour is not new. The reason lies in our apartheid past. South Africa has a history of migrant labour programmes embedded in the mining sector and related industries. Foreign black labour was used as a buffer against indigenous labour where local labour was considered ‘unruly’ and lacking compliance with the needs of mining capital.

The issue of labour ‘discipline’ and compliance raised its ugly head again recently with the longest strike in the mining sector led by the Association for Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), sharpening the debate even further. The media routinely interviewed foreign workers who were openly critical of South Africa’s striking mineworkers for making unreasonable demands.

Migrant workers come from as far afield as Malawi, Zambia, and Mozambique, and closer to home, from Lesotho and Swaziland. The difference in the post-apartheid era is that migrant labour is drawn from even further afield than neighbouring Southern African states. New migrant labour employment is also far more diversified and dispersed within the South African economy compared to the past.

The phenomenon of migration is easy to observe, but the paradox of high migrant labour employment against high domestic unemployment is hard to make sense of. Commenting on the findings of the MiWORC report, Carol Paton of Business Day writes, “In South Africa, foreign migrants have an 81% rate of employment, compared to South African non-migrants, whose rate of employment is 65%.”

The MiWORC report notes that international migrants with higher education than domestic labour are more likely to be active in the informal sector than domestic migrants and non-migrant workers.

In sectors where trade unions are dominant, foreign black migrant workers find more restricted routes of employment. They are more likely to engage in short-term employment or participate as short-term contract workers.

The report notes that they are employed in precarious work. In other words, they are employed in positions where job security is poor. Many are employed in the low-level services sector where unionisation rates are low.

The MiWORC report has no statistical information on what the level of wages or income is for migrant workers compared to domestic labour, nor is there information about the concentration of this labour geographically. It also doesn’t develop sufficient information about preferences in the private and public sectors.

However, it does note that despite the post-1994 dispensation, labour preference practice has continuity with the past. Whites get first preference, followed by Indians, coloureds and then blacks.

Reading the report, one concludes that domestic labour is even lower in the preference hierarchy in South Africa in recent years.

One suspects that the added incentive for hiring foreign labour is related to the fact that this group makes low wage demands, as they are always vulnerable to dismissal or the threat of expulsion from the country. They are thus an easily exploitable group.

It would not be difficult to speculate that international migrants find higher rates of labour integration in the private sector compared to the public sector. The exception occurs where they possess very specialised skills or high levels of education in areas where domestic labour is still in shortage. These would be in professions such as university lecturers, doctors, engineers, accountants and so on.

What we can deduce from the report is that international migration has been significant in the post-apartheid era. Migration policy may look co-ordinated on paper, but in reality our borders have become more porous either through poor policing or corruption at immigration centres.

The exact numbers of international migrants in South Africa remains a number around which there is much statistical dispute between official figures and estimates from non-official sources.

But migration is not a one-way phenomenon. It also happens because there is internal accommodation and a preference bias in the labour market, which explains the high rate of foreign employment.

Labour brokers possibly facilitate much of this. These agencies have their own political connections with the top brass of the country, including black empowerment arrangements that entrench their legitimacy.

Despite labour unions calling for the banning of labour brokers, these proposals will probably fall on deaf policy ears given the deep vested interests in a sector worth billions of rands, as a result of handling close to a million workers a year.

As is evident, immigration as it were, is not only the result of the immigrant’s initiative, but also due to inherent biases in the South African economy. This is why this issue is more complex than meets the eye.

There appears to be a preference divide between the private and public economy and this divide influences patterns of employment and displacement in the workforce.

Domestic male black labourers have been the worst off judging from labour preference trends for both international migrants and domestic female workers.

The issue of foreign migrant labour must be better understood.

Fakir is an independent writer based in Cape Town.

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