Archive from November, 2015
Nov 16, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

International students granted visa waiver

November 12 2015 – Jabulile S. Ngwenya – IOL News
Pretoria – International students studying in South Africa can breath a sigh of relief after Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba announced on Thursday that his department would waive visa regulations for those whose visas have expired.
The waiver is applicable to international students whose visas expired at the end of October and were due to expire at the end of November.
Gigaba’s announcement came after consultations he had with the International Education Association of South Africa (IEASA), which was liaising with universities to identity students affected by the regulations.
The waiver came as a solution to assist students, who would have been unable to write their examinations, or have been “declared undesirable when leaving the country on expired visas” said Home Affairs spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete.
The waiver, said Tshwete, means that these students would be allowed to stay in the country until December 31.
He added: “Any student who intends to return to South Africa in 2016 for study purposes will have to follow the usual process of either applying for a renewal of their visa or apply for a study visa in their country of origin, whichever is applicable.”
Tswete said once the IEASA has provided the department with a list of bonafide students who were applicable for the waiver, they would proceed with granting these students the waiver.

Nov 13, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

South Africa: Home Affairs Reviewing Migration Policy

10 November 2015 – SAnews.gov.za (Tshwane)
Cape Town — The Chairperson of the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) set up to look at migration, Minister Jeff Radebe, says government is reviewing South Africa’s migration policy in a bid to deal with the strain between locals and foreign nationals that has affected some communities.
Minister Radebe, who is also responsible for the Ministry of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation in the Presidency, said this when briefing Parliament’s Ad Hoc Committee on Violence against Foreign Nationals on Tuesday.
He said a heavy influx of foreign nationals has led to migration laws not being adhered to due to border management laxity and the visa waiver to Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries, among others, which has led to foreign nationals staying in the country longer than they should be.
This, coupled with other causes like socio-economic conditions and unfair business practices, has necessitated the IMC to look into this and other interventions.
“The Department of Home Affairs is reviewing South Africa’s migration policy and intends tabling a green paper in the Forum of South African Directors-General during the third quarter of the current financial year.
“Cabinet has also approved the Refugee Amendment Bill in September 2015 for tabling in Parliament,” he said.
The Minister said the review of the country’s migration policy was one of several interventions through which government was responding to underlying root causes and tensions that led to attacks on foreign nationals in April 2015 in various parts of the country.
Other interventions would include:
– Addressing the asylum seekers’ backlog through the immediate funding and capacitating of the Standing Committee on Refugee Affairs and Refugee Appeals Board;
– Restricting the movement of asylum applicants to a single magisterial district through the setting up of decentralised refugee reception centres at ports of entry;
– Funding and capacitating of Immigration Services (IMS) to empower the inspectorate, revamp ports of entry as well as to create the necessary systems to deal with migration and,
– Controlling the inflow of migrants by setting a tolerance threshold or a quota system.
The Minister also said government would revisit South Africa’s accession to the relevant United Nation conventions without reservation and amend the country’s Refugees Act accordingly.
Over and above this, government would also develop a comprehensive strategy with SADC states for managing migration into South Africa.
To improve border management, Minister Radebe said government will fund, capacitate and deploy the requisite South African National Defence Force companies to the borderline.
He said this would go hand-in-hand with expediting the construction of border fences and the establishment of patrol roads.
While government was mobilising and involving communities in borderline security management, it was also working hard to eradicate corruption and illegal activities at ports of entry and the borderline.
“In the aftermath of the attacks, foreign nationals were reintegrated while some were voluntarily repatriated.
“The Technical Task Team of Directors-General on Migration held successful meetings with African diaspora groups to discuss their challenges.
“[The task team also] communicated government’s expectations of their communities in terms of adherence to South African law and regulations,” he said.

Nov 13, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

Home Affairs, varsities make provisions for foreign students

2015-10-29 15:32
Kaveel Singh, News24
Durban – The government and top tier South African universities have made provisions for time-constrained international students as exam dates were pushed back due to the #FeesMustFall campaign.
Following the campaign that saw thousands of higher education students take to the streets demanding 0% increase in tuition fees for 2016, a number of university exam dates had to be pushed back.
Foreign national students were likely to suffer the most, with visas expected to expire before many students could sit for exams.
One such student is Iyare Uwumagbe, who is studying for his masters in physiotherapy at Wits University. Uwumagbe, a Nigerian national, said while his visa had not expired, his personal monetary woes were eating at his resources.
“I was meant to leave the country on Saturday, but I have had to reschedule my flights, which cost me thousands. There are also other issues, like my accommodation and the need for more food and transport,” he said.
Esther Buabeng-Baidoo, a chemical engineering masters candidate, said while she understood and supported #FeesMustFall, her studies were affected.
“I might only be able to graduate in April next year. The plan was for December, but I was not able to hand in my thesis because of the disruptions. I have to say though, I support the campaign. It is for a great cause and will help all students,” she said.
Visas based on study duration
Department of home affairs spokesperson, Thabo Mokgola, said the government, working within its powers, ensured students would be permitted to stay in the country because they were given visas based on the duration of their studies.
“This means that if you are studying for four years, you will be given a visa for that period of time, plus an additional year. This is how our study visas work,” Mokgola said.
A number of universities throughout the country have attempted to make provisions for foreign students, including the University of Cape Town and Wits University.
Speaking to News24, Wits spokesperson Shirona Patel said in terms of their campus accommodations and the student services offered, students would be catered for. “Regarding other issues that are beyond us, there is not much we can do.”
UCT spokesperson Pat Lucas added that as a consequence of the university’s closure this week and the #FeesMustFall campaign, the vice-chancellor had postponed the set of examinations due to start on Tuesday.
“The October/November exam session will therefore not start next week. New dates for the start of the exam session will be set in consultation with staff and students.
“Where a departmentally arranged exam was to have been held at an earlier date, arrangements will be made for those who did not arrive for such exams to write/take the exam at a later date.
“The International Academic Programmes Office (IAPO) is aware that some students may not be in the country at the time that the exams will be set. For this reason, additional arrangements have been made for them.”

Nov 13, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

NOTHING HAS CHANGED IN SA IMMIGRATION LAWS

12/11/2015 – Swazi Times
WHEN I heard the Ministry of Home Affairs speaking through the Principal Secretary telling this nation the fiasco at borders involving children travelling to South Africa was finally over I celebrated!
But my celebration was short-lived this past weekend, Saturday to be exact, when a relative of mine was turned back in my presence for want of an affidavit from the other spouse and an unabridged birth certificate (whatever that means)! It was sad watching this ordeal unfold for my relative and looking at them they had dismay written all over their faces. And rightfully, so.

I mean here, their anguish of a ruined weekend in South Africa was but a nightmare; but I think it was not about the demands made by the Immigration officers, who as might be expected were uncompromising, but rather that they were misled by the Ministry of Home Affairs into believing things have reverted to normality; when they had not. Again you ask, why would the ministry go to the media to make such misleading announcements without consulting, at least, the SA High Commissioner 500 metres away. I mean these were sweeping changes.
The whole thing about the new Immigration laws in South Africa has been a subject of much debate. The minister of Home Affairs (in SA) is under extreme pressure, and the way he was being grilled by other parties there has been serious enough to make him budge, and budge he did for foreign nationals visiting SA, but not for neighbouring States. For the neighbouring States the requirement for unabridged birth certificates for children accompanying parents and affidavits for the other parent are still intact.

When we engaged the Immigration officer about this fiasco, he put it candidly, saying our government should have approached the SA High Commissioner to verify the change before running to the media to score cheap political points at the expense of citizens. I mean, ever since this announcement was made by the ministry a great number of parents have been inconvenienced by being turned back at the border; and to think this has still not reached the ministry is inconceiviable. Unless of course whoever tried to report this was given the same cold shoulder given to the MP, of ‘Phuma kimi’. And that, by the way was uncalled for to happen in the august House as they call it.
It is the same attitude that turns people away from reporting mishaps such as these. And without complaints you cannot improve service to clientele. I think to obviate problems such as these, there has to be more cooperation between the Immigration, home affairs ministries of the two countries. I mean some of us have heard stories of people blacklisted from visiting SA just because they over stayed by a few days, but the penalties to such offenders are so harsh and disproportionate when looking at the offence. I mean some people have talked of fines of as high as R8 000 plus blacklisting for up to 12 months. And that is absurd!! And talking of neighbourliness this is not one way of showing it. And people to learn hospitality must come to our own Ministry of Home Affairs. A friend of mine was here recently and having spent a month in the country was worried because she had not finished her mission. I said to her she should get an extension of stay. She went there, she was in and out in 10 minutes, paid I think a lousy E10 or E50 (I forget) and she had her extension of stay extended by another month.

And that is what I call hospitality – and the ministry deserves a commendation there.
And now border hours extended to midnight at Oshoek, commendable work again, but the information is not getting out to citizens. I didn’t know and on two occasions I rushed to the border thinking I was late only to find that I still had two hours to spare. It seems to me the ministry may well be on the right track, it’s only when it takes everybody by surprise, even shocking MPs by registering children in their mothers’ maiden names! and you ask yourself, where did that come from?

We know SA meant well in the new Immigration laws as relates to children to curb trafficking, but to relax or abolish these procedures for foreign nationals but keep these intact for neighbouring countries was bound to cause confusion. I know it was a question of which side the bread is buttered.
Distant nations like the APR (the Chinas of this world) bring serious tourism to SA and the pressure from Hanekom and his stakeholders may have been unbearable, but the neighbouring States do matter as well in SA tourism; the reason I advocate a similar relaxation of SA’s Immigration laws with its neighbours.

Nov 13, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

No need to fire Gigaba – Ramaphosa

2015-11-12 – Thulani Gqirana, News24
Cape Town – There was no need to fire home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba over visa regulations, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa told Parliament on Thursday.
He was answering questions on the inter-ministerial committee’s recommendations regarding South Africa’s new visa regulations.
Taking Members of Parliament (MPs) through the recommendations, which include relaxing some requirements like needing to apply for visas in person, the deputy president said the government had listened to the cries of tourists and tourism companies.
EFF and DA MPs called for Gigaba’s head over the loss of income and jobs due to the visa regulations.
Under the new visa regulations, which came into effect in June, parents could not travel in and out of the country with their minors if they did not have an unabridged birth certificate as well as a passport.
In addition to the documents, both parents had to provide consent for children to travel. Consent was required from a single parent only if the other parent did not acknowledge paternity.
If both parents’ names were on the unabridged birth certificate, the child could not travel without both their consent.
However, these were amended in October and it was no longer mandatory for inbound travellers from visa-exempt countries to carry unabridged birth certificates for accompanying minors.
DA MP James Vos said the regulations had cost the country more than 5 000 jobs and billions in revenue and asked if the president would consider firing Gigaba.
EFF MP Marshall Dlamini said government was “famous for doing first and thinking later”, accusing Gigaba of doing this and asked if he would be fired.
This did not sit well with Ramaphosa, who told the MPs he did not have hiring and firing powers.
“As far as I’m concerned there is no reason to take any action against Gigaba, because the government has demonstrated the concerns … raised by the tourism industry were listened to. We are a listening government and these processes were amended so we can make ease of travel in South Africa.”

Nov 13, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

Germany, Sweden continue decline

10 Nov 2015 – Tourism Update

Tourist arrivals from Germany, Sweden, Canada, China, India and South Korea have shown significant declines.
Tourist arrivals from Germany and Sweden continued to drop in July, with arrivals down 9% and 7% respectively for the first seven months of the year. Arrivals from Germany were down 5% for the month of July, while arrivals from Sweden were down 5%. This compares with a 2% growth in total overseas tourist arrivals for the month according to the latest arrival stats from Statistics South Africa.
During July, SA saw 10 609 tourists from Germany compared with 11 128 last year and 1 031 from Sweden compared with 1 083 last year. Germany is SA’s third-largest source market after the UK and the US.
Other noteworthy markets that showed a sharp decline for July include Canada, which was down 5% year on year for the month and down 11% for the first seven months of the year.
Emerging markets China and India were also down, but the decline appears to have slowed, with Chinese arrivals in July down 19% compared with a year-to-date decline of 29% and Indian arrivals down 2% in July compared with a year-to-date decline of 13%.
Arrivals from South Korea were down 6% in July to 1 448 compared with 1 532 the previous year.

Nov 13, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

Unabridged birth certificates still required

11/11/2015 – EWN
CAPE TOWN – The Home Affairs Department says people planning to visit South Africa with their children will still need to carry their unabridged birth certificates.
The Home Affairs Department says they haven’t yet implemented changes discussed last month.
Last month, Cabinet said an inter-ministerial committee had decided to change part of new immigration regulations that required the documents.
Ministers have also decided to allow people in certain countries to apply for visas by post.
But Home Affairs Director General Mkuseli Apleni says they haven’t yet implemented those changes.

“The law still remains. People are coming to South Africa every day and they are still bringing their unabridged birth certificates. That will only change once a certain system has been implemented