Archive from March, 2015
Mar 27, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

Canadian woman faces ban from the UK after bungling border officials say she doesn’t have an ‘affectionate relationship’ with her husband of 45 YEARS

By Richard Spillett for MailOnline 26 March 2015 |

• Couple married in 1970 after British man went to work in Canada
• They have since lived in Ontario, but now want to return to the UK
• But despite owning house in Britain, border force has refused wife visa
• Couple, who have grown-up son, brand decision ‘utterly extraordinary’
Border officials refused a Canadian woman the right to stay in the UK claiming she doesn’t have a ‘genuine relationship’ with her British husband – despite them having been married for 45 years.
David Summers, 70, and his wife Maria, 66, have been happily married since 1970, and have a 42-year-old son, Derick, who holds a British passport.
The couple lived in Ontario, Canada, until September 2013, when they moved back to the UK to care for Mr Summers’s sick mother.
But border officials have now refused retired optician Mrs Summers’s application for a permanent UK visa because they don’t believe the pensioners have a real ‘affectionate relationship’.
The decision was appealed and it is currently being considered by the UK Border Agency, who have told the couple that no final ruling will be made until the end of May.
The couple, who own a house in Hereford, are meanwhile desperately trying to prove that their marriage is genuine for fear Mrs Summers could be permanently excluded from the UK when her temporary tourist visa expires.
Mrs Summers said: ‘It’s ridiculous, we are quite willing to give the border people what they want but they are adamant. I don’t know what they want us to prove.
‘Anyone who has ever spoken to us can clearly see that we are best friends and have been since the day we met.
‘We’ve got almost half a century’s worth of birthday cards, 45 years of holiday snaps from all ove the world.
‘We’ve got pictures of us with our son just after he was born, growing up, right up to his wedding day. If they’d asked us to send us all of those photos, we could have done.’
Mr Summers, a retired retailer and published author, added: ‘Why pick on us? We’ve been married for 45 years and we are completely devoted to one another, what do they want us to do?
‘We could show them pictures, e-mails, texts, everything from our marriage, but they have not asked us for anything. They are doing this based on no evidence at all.’
Mr Summers added: ‘They haven’t even given us a chance to prove that our marriage is real. We’ve got a marriage certificate and a son, what more do they want?
‘We love each other very much, it’s really hurtful for them to suggest that our marriage is not real.’
Why pick on us? We’ve been married for 45 years and we are completely devoted to one another, what do they want us to do?
Mrs Summers’s application for a permanent UK visa was rejected by British authorities, with a letter citing the reason for rejection stating: ‘You have not provided any evidence that your relationship is still subsisting.
‘It is reasonable to expect that in a genuine subsisting, supportive and affectionate relationship, there would be evidence of regular contact, signs of companionship, emotional support, affection, and abiding interest in each other’s welfare and well-being throughout the entire duration of your relationship….I am therefore not satisfied that your relationship is not genuine.’
The pair met at a dance in Kingston, Ontario in 1966 while Mr Summers was in the country working in retail and soon fell in love.
They married in 1970 and lived in Kingston until 1981, when they moved to Ottawa.
The couple made frequent visits back to the UK and bought their house in Hereford in 1995 for Mr Summers’s elderly mother Doris Murray to live in.
They made the trip back in September 2013 and intended to retire in Hereford and care for Doris, who had fallen ill.
David said: ‘We filled in a load of forms when we had Derick which meant we could come back and forth as much as we wanted, but for us to retire here permanently, we found out Maria needed to have this permanent visa.
‘If Maria’s second visa application fails, we would have no choice but to move back to Canada.
‘We would have to sell our home and move my mother into a care home. We have family here but they cannot look after her.
‘I find it utterly extraordinary, I can’t really contemplate life without my wife.’
The Home Office, which runs the UK Border Agency, has yet to comment on the case.

Mar 27, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

Passport Office racks up £42million profit from the summer crisis: Ministers accused of profiteering after thousands of families had to cancel holidays

By Ian Drury Home Affairs Correspondent For The Daily Mail
Published: 01:02 GMT, 27 March 2015 | Updated: 06:41 GMT, 27 March 2015

• Families forced to cancel holidays because documents not issued in time
• Thousands were encouraged to pay extra to fast-track passport application
• Many upgraded to the £128 premium four-hour service instead of standard
• Ministers were last night accused of ‘profiting from the public’s hardship

The Passport Office made a profit of £42million during last summer’s chaos, it has emerged.
Shocking figures reveal the under-fire agency racked up the huge surplus in just six months as the fiasco wrecked costly holidays and business trips.
Devastated families were forced to cancel summer breaks, or leave loved ones at home, because travel documents had not been issued by the departure date.
Ministers were last night accused of ‘profiting from the public’s hardship’ after the Passport Office admitted it had made the staggering sum between April and October.
Despite the vast profit, not a single person received compensation for being caught up in the crisis as staff struggled to cope with clearing a backlog that at one point hit 550,000 passport applications.
Thousands of concerned holidaymakers were encouraged to pay extra to fast-track their passport application or face delays of up to six months, with fears that their papers would not arrive in time for their holiday.
Many upgraded to the £128 premium four-hour service, rather than rely on the standard service, meaning the Passport Office made an additional £55.50 for each person.
And while replacing or renewing a passport normally costs £72.50, processing an application only costs the Passport Office £57.71 – giving it a profit of almost £15 per person which is then handed over to the Treasury.
The latest figures were published in the Passport Office’s annual report and accounts, which was slipped out by the Home Office this week among a welter of documents ahead of the dissolution of Parliament for the election.
Martin Cook, 43, from Ipswich, who was forced to call the passport helpline 25 times in one day and then pay an extra £55 to fast-track his passport after his application got lost, said he was ‘appalled’.
He added: ‘I’m very shocked by the level of profit. No doubt the extra money that I paid helped swell the surplus. I’m pretty sick about it.
The Government should do the decent thing now and compensate customers who were left out of pocket through no fault of their own.’
And Labour’s immigration spokesman David Hanson said: ‘These accounts show that the Government was putting profits before people’s hardship.
‘It is staggering that whilst thousands of families missed their holidays last year because Theresa May couldn’t get them their passports on time, the Passport Office made such a vast profit.’
Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons’ home affairs select committee, said: ‘It is unbelievable that at a time when millions of British citizens were suffering because of the poor management of the passport service that it was making £42million in profits.
‘I hope that those who applied for compensation because of lost holidays and other costs will now be compensated in full.
‘I shall be seeking confirmation that none of the senior management received any bonuses during this disastrous period.’
The Home Office said that it has employed around 1,000 extra staff and put in place contingency measures in a bid to prevent the problems happening again this year, when it is expected to deal with 6.7million passport applications.

Mar 27, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

SA hot on trend, ‘offering up to 20% cheaper breaks for international visitors’

2015-03-26 – Traveller 24
Cape Town – South Africa is carving out a name for itself as a competitive global travel destination, and interest levels in the country amongst international markets, such as the United States, United Kingdom and Germany, are steadily increasing.
This is according to Bruce Deneys, Sales and Marketing Director at Pepperclub Hotel & Spa, who says that the number of international tourists returning to South Africa after their first visit is steadily increasing. “As a result of the exchange rate to the euro and dollar being particular strong, holidaying in South Africa has effectively become 10 – 20% cheaper in the last few months.”
Deneys, who recently returned from the 2015 ITB – the world’s leading travel trade show held in Berlin earlier in March, says that the German market is showing increased interest in South Africa.
“There was a buzz at the South African stand at the trade show, with many agents looking to book group reservations, a significant increase in comparison to previous years.”
Having also travelled to the US and UK during his trip to meet with industry players, Deneys says that the US is definitely one of the more buoyant markets interested in South Africa, and that the UK is showing an increased interest. “Although South Africa was a popular travel destination for UK travellers last year, we are already noticing an uptick in the amount of UK tourists visiting during the first few months of 2015.”
Deneys’ views are supported by the recently announced TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice™ 25 Best Destinations List for 2015, which named Cape Town number 10 – beating 469 other travel destinations worldwide and renowned cities, such as New York, Sydney, Dubai, Bangkok and Barcelona. “The Mother City has moved up from 19th place in 2014, and is proof that South Africa and Cape Town are gaining popularity amongst international travellers,” says Deneys.
He says that the favourable exchange rate in particular has aided in South Africa, especially Cape Town, becoming more of a hot travel destination amongst international markets.
He says the fact that Cape Town is seen as an international event destination has also supported the country’s rising tourism figures.
“The upcoming 16th annual Jazz Festival, which sees many local and international guests travel from afar to participate in the event, is a prime example of this. This not only drives tourism revenue for the country, but also has a positive impact on local establishments, such as hotels and restaurants, as well as job creation.”
SA Tourism announced earlier this week that South Africa remains the top convention destination in Africa and the Middle East, and that there is potential for further growth within the conference market. 118 meetings and conferences took place in South Africa during the 2013/2104 year, and SA Tourism seeks to increase this figure to 134 by 2020.
“Cape Town has already seen major events, such as the Mining Indaba, take place in 2015, and the number will only increase going forward as a result of upcoming planned events, including the Rugby Sevens, which has moved from its original location of Port Elizabeth to Cape Town.
“The city is continually gaining international and local recognition as an events and conference destination, and with the growing attention and favourable exchange rate for international markets, this interest is only set to grow in coming months and years,” concludes Deneys.
– Traveller24

Mar 27, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

Top US embassy official urges SA to improve ‘pitch’ to foreign investors

Published 26 Mar 2015 : Terence Creamer –
A senior US embassy official has urged the South African government to address a number of mixed messages on the openness of the country to foreign investment so as to take advantage of a growing appetite among American companies for investments into the country and the region.

Speaking at an event hosted by The Economist Corporate Network, Minister Counselor for Economic Affairs Laird Treiber said that, while the US government and American business continued to see “tremendous” opportunity to grow trade and investment relations with South Africa, the country needed to improve its “pitch” to companies showing an increasingly active interest in the country.

Bilateral trade in goods currently stood at $21-billion and was relatively balanced between the two countries.
US companies and individuals had also invested $35-billion into the country, the bulk of which – around $30-billion – was in the form of portfolio investments. However, an increasing number of American firms were currently looking to either make direct investment or expand existing operations.
“We think the potential is significant. We think we could double or even triple the [direct investment of $5-billion] in the next ten years,” Laird said, noting that the frequency of visits by leading executives had increased since the US-Africa Leaders Summit, which took place in Washington DC in August last year.
“In a lot of cases the promise of Africa and the promise of South Africa is good enough to get chief executive officers on a plane. What we are telling the South African government is they need to be very concerned about giving them just as good a pitch when they get off the plane so that they then can conclude the deal.”
Investors were worried about a number of pieces of proposed legislation, which were sending “mixed messaging about how welcome foreign companies are in South Africa”.
He made specific reference to the Private Security Industry Regulation Amendment Bill, the Promotion and Protection of Investment Bill, as well as developments around expropriation, intellectual property and land reform.
“They all have some potentially disturbing clauses in terms of how a foreign investor’s rights will be treated.”
He said the US government was urging South Africa to send a more consistent message and to give deeper thought to “how those Bills and policy initiatives play in terms of convincing executives from America or other companies that South Africa is the right place to invest”.
Edited by: Creamer Media Reporter

Mar 27, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

SCA chastises Home Affairs

SCA chastises Home Affairs
26.3.2015 – The Citizen
Supreme Court of Appeal has severely criticised Home Affairs for ignoring repeated court orders and gave the department until 1 July to reopen the refugee reception office (RRO) in Port Elizabeth.
The court also ordered Home Affairs director general Mkuseli Apleni to report in writing once a month to the Somali Association of South Africa and the Project for Conflict Resolution and Development about the progress made to ensure compliance with the court order. The two organisations, represented by Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR), in 2012 and 2013 obtained court orders setting aside the closure of the Port Elizabeth office, but the department ignored both court orders.
The reception office was closed in 2011; severely curtailing refugee services for the majority of asylum seekers due to the long distances they must travel to continuously renew their permits. The situation was exacerbated by Home Affairs’ unwillingness to allow files to be transferred to the remaining offices in Pretoria, Durban and Musina.
Home Affairs based part of its decision to close the office on plans to open a reception office at the Lebombo border crossing with Mozambique, but the opening of the office was repeatedly delayed and it is now only expected to open early next year. The Appeal Court criticised Apleni for seeking to circumvent the previous court orders and the department for misleading Parliament by stating that no new office would be opened in Lebombo, but later claiming the answer only pertained to that financial year.
“The refugees and asylum seekers encountered here are among those who are most in need of protection. They do not have powerful political constituencies and their problems, more often than not, are ignored by government. “Previous orders of courts appear to have done little to make their problem visible and to cause the authorities to comply with their obligations. “…It is a most dangerous thing for a litigant, particularly a state department and senior officials in its employ, to wilfully ignore an order of court.
“…No democracy can survive if court orders can be shunned and trampled on as happened here,” Appeal Court Judge Visvanathan Ponnan said.
Although the department claimed the closure would merely “inconvenience” asylum seekers, the Judge said it trivialised the vulnerability and desperate circumstances of many asylum seekers.
“That decision, which did not withstand scrutiny by our courts, made light of the fact that several communities of refugees and asylum seekers, including some 14 000 Somali refugees, reside and work in that geographic region,” he said. The head of LHR’s litigation programme David Cote welcomed the ruling, adding that the department’s attempts to circumvent court orders and mislead Parliament were dangerous precedents for our constitutional democracy and the rule of law.

Mar 27, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

SA’s new immigration rules challenged in court

Two foreigners were separated from their South African spouses when the new rules came into effect.
Rahima Essop | 24 March 2015 EWN
CAPE TOWN – The path has been cleared for the Western Cape High Court to hear a case challenging the Constitutionality of South Africa’s new immigration rules.
On Tuesday, the Constitutional Court dismissed the Home Affairs Department’s appeal against an order granting temporary relief to two families affected by the changes.
The appeal was against a High Court judgment that two foreigners, who were declared “undesirable” under the new regulation, be allowed back into the country pending the outcome of the second part of their application.
The two were separated from their South African spouses when the new rule came into effect last year.
Immigration lawyer Craig Smith says the matter could be heard in the next few months.
“We’re now going to deal with the principle provision that gives the immigration offices the right to declare people undesirable and we will ask the court now to determine and have a very good look at the Constitutionality of the provisions and the construct of the provision. Our view is that it is unconstitutional. “

Mar 27, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

Home Affairs sent packing for now as immigration law challenge still looms

By Nomahlubi Jordaan | Mar 25, 2015 The Sowetan
Two foreigners married to South Africans can remain in the country with their families for now after the Constitutional Court told the Department of Home Affairs it cannot appeal a temporary High Court order..
The court ruled on Tuesday on the department’s application for leave to appeal a Western Cape High Court decision granting temporary relief to two families separated by a new immigration regulation that came into effect at the end of May last year.
The foreign spouses of Brent Johnson and Cherene Delorie were stranded outside South Africa after being refused re-entry and declared “undesirable”.
Delorie’s Zimbabwean husband, David Henderson, was declared an undesirable person after leaving South Africa – where he has lived for seven years – to travel to Zimbabwe on May 28 last year, while Johnson’s Danish wife, Louise Egedal-Johnson, was declared an undesirable person after a family holiday to Namibia the same month.
Both their temporary residence permits had lapsed and the fact that they were declared undesirable prevented them, under the new regulations, from getting new temporary permits.
Egedal-Johnson was stranded outside the country together with the couple’s baby and Henderson was separated from his wife and two children.
The two families’ applications for relief were heard together because the cases were similar. Both claim that the new immigration regulations regarding declaring people undesirable are unconstitutional.
The Western Cape High Court ordered that Henderson and Egedal-Johnson be allowed back into South Africa until their application to have the regulations declared invalid is heard.
The Department of Home Affairs then asked the Constitutional Court for leave to appeal against the High Court order, arguing that the High Court invaded its executive authority by, among other things, “creating a precedent that allows for internal remedies under the Immigration Act to be bypassed”.
The Constitutional Court, however, found that the order was only temporary and did not finally dispose of any factual or legal issues.
“The temporary relief granted was specifically directed at Mrs Johnson and Mr Henderson and there was no general suspension of the new legal dispensation in respect of other persons,” the court held.
Craig Smith, lawyer for both families, said both Henderson and Egedal-Johnson returned to the country after the High Court ruling and expressed their satisfaction with the Constitutional Court’s ruling.
Smith said a date was yet to be set for the Western Cape High Court to hear the challenge to the validity of the regulations.
If the parties succeed in having it declared invalid, it will require the department to go “back to the drawing board” to redraft it, Smith said.
He said the new regulations impinged on foreigners’ rights.
“Many people have been separated as a result of the new law,” he said.