Archive from December, 2016
Dec 29, 2016 - Business Permit    No Comments

Deadline for Lesotho Special Permit application looms

Deadline for Lesotho Special Permit application looms
TMG Digital | 28 December, 2016 14:59
Undocumented Lesotho nationals working‚ studying or doing business in South Africa have just three days left to apply for a Lesotho Special Permit (LSP).
This after the Department of Home Affairs extended the application deadline twice this year‚ in June and September.
No further extensions will be granted by the department‚ according to a statement by technology services company VFS Global‚ responsible for operating the application centres and processing the permits.
The application process is broken into two steps: payment of the application fee and completing the application with the relevant documentation at one of the nine provincial application centres or mobile units at ports of entry.
To date 179 452 applications have been received and 85 276 payments for permits have been received. Thus far 43 034 permits have been issued.
VFS Global warned that those who do not possess a valid permit by March 2017 will be deported. This includes Lesotho nationals who have paid the application fee on time but have failed to process their paperwork.
“Lesotho nationals who have applied should phone the VFS call-centre to check if their permits are ready for collection‚ and duly collect them‚” it said.
In a final push to assist applicants‚ provincial LSP centres and mobile units at ports of entry will be open daily until the deadline on December 31.
Mobile units can be found at the Maseru‚ Ficksburg‚ Van Rooyen Heck‚ Telebridge‚ Fouriesburg and Qachas’s Neck entry ports. Most of these will be open from 6am to 11pm‚ with the exception of Maseru and Ficksburg which will be open 24 hours per day.
Earlier this month Home Affairs Director-General Mkuseli Apleni and Lesotho’s Home Affairs Principal Secretary Borenahabokhete Sekonyela visited the Ficksburg and Maseru Bridge entry ports‚ in a bid to urge Lesotho nationals to apply for their special permits. – TMG Digital

Dec 28, 2016 - Business Permit    No Comments

Plett castle shows appetite for super luxury property

Plett castle shows appetite for super luxury property
28 Dec 2016 – Fin24
Cape Town – Plettenberg Bay on the Garden Route is one of only a handful of locations in South Africa where there is appetite for property that falls in the super luxury bracket, according to Hein Pretorius, broker principal of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty in the town dubbed SA’s “millionaire playground”.
According to New World Wealth’s South Africa 2016 Wealth Report, the coastal holiday town’s sought-after Beachyhead Drive, lined with mansion after mansion overlooking Plett’s unspoilt beaches, boasts the most expensive houses outside of Cape Town.
Pretorius says the New World Wealth report notes that there were some 2 300 South African homes valued at R20m or more as of December 2015. The majority are in Cape Town (880) and Johannesburg (550), but Plettenberg Bay, a very small town, boasts an astonishing 120 homes in that price bracket and ranks third in the country.
One of those properties currently on the market for R75m is the “Castle on the Cliff”, a massive villa designed like a castle and constructed using local stone. Perched on a cliff in the Robberg nature reserve, the 5-bedroom Vygekraal Estate overlooks the coastline and sits at the foot of some of South Africa’s most scenic hiking trails.
Featuring its own private dam, huge prehistoric cave and large sea-filtered rock pool, the estate spans 66 hectares.
Well-positioned patios take advantage of the spectacular views and, depending on the prevailing winds, you can enjoy outdoor living almost all year round. The northern side accommodates a swimming pool and manicured gardens surround the building.
A winding natural path leads from the castle to a cave that dates back to pre-historic times. This expansive natural wonder was home to people thousands of years ago and various artefacts that have been found on-site. These belong to this home and are included in the sale.

According to deeds records, the property last changed hands in 2008 for R48m and Pretorius says it is still one of the most expensive ever sold in Plettenberg Bay.
“Estates this spectacular are as rare as hens’ teeth and when the opportunity arises to own such a gem there is always market appetite. It’s a unique home that will find a unique buyer – someone who treasures privacy and outstanding natural beauty.

“It’s also a property made for entertaining with a catering-size kitchen and flowing living areas. There is spacious staff accommodation on site, as well as an estate manager’s cottage.”
Steven Neufeld, manager principal of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty in Plettenberg Bay, says the first half of 2016 has been the best year to date for this period and there has been significant market growth across the board.
“There is absolutely no doubt that despite the weak economy, demand for property in Plettenberg Bay remains extremely high. With 483 property registrations recorded between January and the end of July, 2016 looks poised to be a record year, with the previous high being in 2011 when 611 properties transfers were registered,” says Neufeld.
“It’s a distinct possibility that we will break the record when one considers that almost 40% of the house and estate sales concluded between August 2015 and July 2016 occurred in the three months between May and July this year, with 57 freehold sales to a combined value of R121.21m and 47 security estate transactions worth a total of R131.67m recorded respectively.”

Dec 22, 2016 - Business Permit    No Comments

Immigration dispatch – Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Vietnam

Immigration dispatch – Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Vietnam

20 December 2016 – Relocate Magazine
Canada – temporary worker “4-in, 4-out” rule eliminated
In a 13 December joint announcement by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and the Ministry of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, Canada has eliminated the “4-in, 4-out” rule under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), effective immediately. The announcement brought immediate praise from industry groups in sectors where employers struggle to fill jobs with local labour.The TFWP is the major route used by companies in Canada to bring temporary foreign labour to meet labour shortages and allows employers to fill open local jobs with foreign workers after receiving a favourable Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).While not applicable to many highly-utilised Canadian immigration programs – including the Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) and international reciprocity arrangements (like NAFTA) – the “4-in, 4-out” rule has been widely criticized by companies and foreign workers alike since its implementation in 2011. Under the rule, temporary foreign workers were capped at four years of work in Canada (including extensions); after which time, they would have to exit the country and would remain ineligible for a new work permit for another four years. This results in hardships for both companies and affected foreign employees alike: on the on hand, companies lose valuable experienced workers and take on the cost of continually recruiting new employees in shortage occupations, and on the other hand, affected foreign workers lose their jobs, are uprooted and forced to leave Canada, not ever qualifying for permanent residence.

With the elimination of this rule, companies will benefit from a more stable workforce, and foreign nationals contributing to Canada’s economic success will benefit by establishing roots through permanent residence and eventual citizenship. Pro-Link GLOBAL joins companies and their foreign workers in applauding the move as a “win” for all – good for business, good for foreign employees and their families, and the right ethical decision. In the current world climate of rising short-sighted protectionism and declining favour of globalization, Canada’s recognition that immigration policy is a vital tool of economic growth and a cultural benefit to the nation is refreshing. See our Immigration Dispatch of 14 November for more on this new “Global Skills Strategy.”The decision to remove the “4-in, 4-out” rule was prompted by recommendations contained in a recent report on the TFWP presented to Parliament in September. However, the quick action on the rule took many observers by surprise. While repealing the “4-in, 4-out” rule was merely one of 21 recommended TFWP refinements, IRCC Minister John McCallum stated, “We believe this important recommendation from the Committee requires rapid action.” Additional recommendations of the report include raising the cap on the percentage of foreign workers a company may hire, tailoring caps and requirements to more closely meet regional and industry demands, improving permit processing, and reducing barriers to permanent residency. These changes are also likely to receive attention in the new year.
Australia – new 10-year multiple-entry “Frequent Traveller” visa stream
Effective 19 November, a new “Frequent Traveller” stream was added to Australia’s Subclass 600 visitor visa. The Frequent Traveller visa is issued valid for ten years and allows the holder multiple entries into Australia for stays up to three months each entry. The new visa is available for business or tourism, so long as the holder does not remain in Australia for more than 12 months in any 24-month period.The Frequent Traveller visa will only be available to nationals of select countries specified on a list maintained by the Ministry of Immigration and Border Protection (MIBP). Currently, the only nation on the list is China; however, MIBP’s intent is to gradually add to the list of eligible nations and expand the use of the visa going forward. The fee for the new visa is AUD 1000 (currently approximately CNY 5115).
Costa Rica – several changes to entry visa rules
Effective 14 December, The Costa Rican General Directorate of Migration announced several changes to its visa rules. The changes include:
Consolidation of the current four visa categories into two categories:
1. Nationals of visa-exempt countries
2. Nationals of countries that require a visa
Nationals of countries that require a visa may still be exempt from visa requirements if:
1. They hold a multiple-entry visa issued by the United States or Canada
2. They are permanent residents of the United States, Canada, or a European Union country
Note, unlike previous permissions, holders of multiple-entry visas issued by European Union countries or by Japan will not be exempt from Costa Rican visa requirements.
• Eight additional countries have been added to the list whose citizens may enter Costa Rica visa-free: Brunei, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Peru, Qatar, Taiwan, Ukraine, and the United Arab Emirates.
Affected foreign nationals are encouraged to contact their Immigration Specialist prior to their next travel to Costa Rica, as the changes here are somewhat subtle. In many cases, to qualify under for exemptions, travellers will be required to demonstrate their status at the port of entry into Costa Rica with legalized translations of supporting documents.
Hong Kong – “Pre-Arrival Registration” required for visa-free Indian travellers
Effective 23 January, Indian travellers to Hong Kong will be required to complete an online pre-arrival registration before entering using their visa-free option. After this implementation date, Indian nationals will still be exempt from visa requirements for stays of up to 14 days in Hong Kong, but they will not be permitted entry if the pre-registration has not been completed prior to arrival. This heightened security measure is in response to a recent sharp rise in the number of Indian asylum seekers entering Hong Kong.Only Indian diplomatic passport holders, holders of Hong Kong Travel Passes, or those frequent travellers enrolled in the e-Channel system will be exempt from this new requirement. All other Indian travellers should register before travel on the Immigration Department of Hong Kong website here and print the notification slip to present to immigration authorities upon arrival. Registration is free, valid for six months, and may be used for multiple trips. Starting 23 January, airlines will request the notification slip for Indian nationals on flights to Hong Kong prior to boarding.
Saudi Arabia – “Balanced Nitiqat” scheme postponed
In a surprise announcement by the Ministry of Labour and Social Development, Saudi Arabia has postponed the implementation of its new “Balanced Nitiqat” scheme. As Pro-Link GLOBAL reported earlier, this latest iteration of the Nitiqat system was slated to come into force 12 December. See our Immigration Dispatch of 10 October for more details. The new implementation date has yet to be announced by the Saudi authorities.When implemented, the “Balanced Nitiqat” system will add another level of complexity to the current rules regarding the required “Saudization levels” of company workforces. This long-standing program rewards or penalizes companies operating in the Kingdom based on their percentage of Saudi employees. Since 2011, the Nitiqat system has attempted to increase employment for Saudi nationals in an economy dominated by foreign workers, with limited success. The “Balanced Nitiqat” rules will bring additional requirements for companies regarding the salary and longevity of local workers.The decision to postpone the implementation of the “Balanced Nitiqat” system was reportedly made at the request of private business organizations who felt companies needed more time to prepare for the new, more-complex requirements. With the postponed implementation, the roll-out of the new Saudization website designed to assist companies with compliance has also been delayed.
South Africa – visa-on-arrival suspended for New Zealand nationals
In what is being described by many observers as a “tit-for-tat” move, South Africa has responded in kind to New Zealand’s earlier move suspending its visa-on-arrival for South African nationals. See our Immigration Dispatch of 17 October for more details. In a 6 December announcement, South African Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba stated that, effective 16 January, New Zealand passport holders will need visas to enter South Africa.New Zealand and South Africa had enjoyed a mutual visa-waiver arrangement since 1996, until New Zealand withdrew the visa-waiver status for South Africans on 21 November. This earlier action by New Zealand was predicated on a perceived sharp increase in the number of South Africans arriving with “altered or fraudulent” passports. Several other nations have taken similar action against South African travellers in recent years and, in response, South Africa has implemented improvements to its passport security measures.This recent move by South Africa is reportedly based on the international relations “principle of reciprocity,” and while presently aimed at equalizing its standing with New Zealand, may be applied more broadly. “We have further noted in recent times a number of countries have imposed visa restrictions on South African passport holders,” Minister Gigaba has been quoted as saying. “After a careful consideration of this matter, I have directed departmental officials to look closely at the decisions of these countries and advise accordingly whether or not South Africa should reciprocate.” Whilst we certainly respect the sovereignty of nations and the principles of international relations, we see no practical benefit to the current action by South Africa, and see only self-inflicted harm in reduced international commerce and tourism. Hopefully, similar actions do not follow regarding other nations.
Vietnam – guidance on new Decree 11 finally available
Effective 12 December, Vietnamese authorities have finally issued a new guidance Circular 40 for the implementation of Decree 11. Officially in effect since 1 April, Decree 11 made broad changes to the rules and procedures for the hiring of foreign nationals in Vietnam. See our Global Brief of 3 March for more details. Circular 40 now gives companies much-needed clarification on how to comply with the new law.Circular 40 provides a new set of official forms and detailed guidelines, including the following:
• A new Form 14 (replacing Form 16) has been released for the Foreign Labour Use Report –Companies must provide this report to their provincial labour department before the 5th of the month following each quarter. The new form allows companies to report the number of foreign employees holding work permits, work permit exemption certificates, and those foreign employees exempt from either work permits or exemption certificates
• Clarification of acceptable qualification documents for foreign experts and specialists – A confirmation letter issued by an overseas agency, organization, or enterprise confirming the field of expertise will be accepted
• Clarification of acceptable documents for proof of 12-months employment for Intra-Company Transferees (ICTs) – Assignment letters, former labour contracts, employment decision letters, tax certificates, or insurance certificates showing 12 months of employment with the sending company will be accepted
• Clarification on the calculation of the permissible stay for either work permit exemption or work permit exemption certificate requirements – the start date for this 30-day window will be the foreign national’s date of entry into Vietnam;
• Foreign workers with valid work permits may be assigned to work at another company, client, project, or location in another province for more than 10 days without obtaining a new work permit. Note that notification must be given to the local labour department in that province
• Work permits must be returned to the Department of Labour within 15 days of the end of the foreign worker’s assignment or employment
Companies that are unsure whether their current policies and procedures are in line with this new guidance should contact their Immigration Specialist immediately with questions or to schedule a compliance review.

Dec 22, 2016 - Business Permit    No Comments

The change of South Africa’s visa procedures, confuses travellers

The change of South Africa’s visa procedures, confuses travellers
20 December 2016 – Afrika News
In response to the new immigration rule, applied by New-Zealand, towards South African travellers, South Africa decided to put an end to the visa-free travel’s arrangement made with New Zealand, years ago. This new measure, would come into effect on the 16th of January. The announcement, has brought confusion among travellers.
The reasons behind the change of the visa’s arrangement
Prior to South Africa’s decision, New Zealand’s visa requirements towards SA travellers has changed, forcing the travellers to obtain a visa to enter New Zealand. A decision, that came into force on the 21st of November. “These changes are being made as a result of an increase in the number of South African nationals who have been refused entry at the New Zealand border in comparison to other visa waiver countries,” explained immigration New-Zealand, upon making the announcement.
According to Malusi Gigaba, the minister of home affairs in South Africa, this new procedure, has created some “inconveniences” for the travellers. He thinks, that the decision to deny a visa-free entry to New-Zealand, has impacted the reputation of his country and questioned its safety. This new visa requirement puts South Africa at “reputational risks of being perceived as unsafe by some countries”, he explained. The visa policy, followed by the South African government is based on the principle of reciprocity, therefore, a decision was made by SA to end the 20-year visa exemption they had with New-Zealand. Kiwis travelling to South Africa, should apply for their visa from the South African high commission in Wellington. All those travelling without visa, would be refused entry at the borders. The visa fees, are fixed at 90 $ for touristic visa and 300$ for work permit, an information made public on the the South African High Commission’s website.
After the visa change
Following this new policy, the South African embassy, received a number of complaints from confused travellers, needing more information about this new travelling arrangement. This confusion was caused by the Air New Zealand’s communicated information about the obligation of having a visa-even if travellers arrived in SA, before the coming into effect of the new South African’s policy.
Kiwis, should go to Wellington now to obtain their visas, before travelling to SA. Zodwa Lallie, Africa’s high commissioner to New Zealand, reassured the New-Zealand’s travellers, saying that there will be some flexibilities, until the change is effective. “For people who already have made plans or are making plans to travel to South Africa, no visa is necessary and our system will recognize them and they will not have a problem leaving South Africa within the usual 90-day period to return to New Zealand,” she explained.

Dec 20, 2016 - Business Permit    No Comments

South Africa set for Christmas tourist influx, says Gigaba

South Africa set for Christmas tourist influx, says Gigaba
The Citizen – 9 December 2016
Home Affairs minister, Malusi Gigaba greeting Immigration officials during a walk about of the immigration section of OR Tambo International Airport before briefing media about the festive season plans for the Immigration department of Home Affairs, 8 December 2016.Picture: Neil McCartney
The Department of Home Affairs is preparing for the onslaught of overcrowded ports of entry as millions of travellers are expected to flock to South Africa this festive season.
Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba on Thursday announced a new operating model for the festive season period, complete with new rules, 255 extra staff members for major airports and border gates.
Addressing media at the OR Tambo International Airport, Gigaba said that the department’s border management coordinating committee was operating for the first time at South Africa’s points of entry after a 2014 Cabinet decision to take responsibility for the coordination of border management mandates.
“We are beginning to place home affairs at the centre of management, not only of the borderline but our ports of entry, ensuring that it plays its role.”
The department will see new rules applying at international arrivals for South African and first time foreign travellers, with the latter now expected to use separate entrances at the terminals for the purpose of having a full set of finger prints taken before being allowed through.
There will now be 92 additional staff members at the airport for the duration of the festive season to deal with the expected traveller influx.
But Gigaba said that long-term plans were in the pipeline to overhaul South Africa’s ports of entry as soon as next year.
South Africa’s six major commercial land ports of entry are set to be the focus of this overhaul.
“We pay particular attention to those because in terms of traveller volumes they almost match OR Tambo,” said Gigaba.
“The difference at Beitbridge is that you also have vehicles – light and heavy – and they stretch for kilometres.
“Next year we hope to finalise a plan to completely overhaul the infrastructure,” said Gigaba.

Dec 20, 2016 - Business Permit    No Comments

How to get out of a fake marriage

How to get out of a fake marriage
9 Dec 2016 – Sowetan
South African women selling their hands in marriage to foreigners seeking residents’ permits beware: your actions are criminal.

Divorce lawyer Bertus Preller says that a marriage of convenience in exchange for cash could land you 15 years in jail.
The New Age reported on Thursday that a syndicate is selling sham marriages to foreigners for ease of application for permits. The transaction is done by an agent who provides the woman and a priest to solemnise the union‚ it said.
While this may be lucrative‚ with women earning between R500 and R2‚000 monthly‚ the consequences are costly.
“South Africans who agree to enter into fake marriages so that foreigners can get work and residential permits could face charges‚ including perjury‚ in terms of the Marriage Act‚ Civil Union Act and the Immigration Act.
“The South African Citizenship Amendment Act imposes stiff penalties of up to 15 years in jail on both the foreigner and the South African helping the foreigner to obtain citizenship by means of an illegal marriage of convenience‚” Preller said.
Marc Gbaffou of the Africa Diaspora Forum told TMG Digital that sometimes the foreign husband believes the marriage is legitimate‚ only to discover later that his wife was only interested in his money and wants out.
“Some are told‚ ‘I have a man. We weren’t married and he was in prison. He is coming out so I need to cancel this marriage.’ These are some of the stories we hear.”
Preller says such marriages may be set aside by annulment as it is voidable due to fraud.
The husband‚ wife or the Department of Home Affairs may launch an application in court to have the marriage annulled. “The court can declare the marriage is at an end‚” he said.
If a marriage was entered into without the consent or knowledge of one of the parties‚ it is void. The aggrieved party may approach the Department of Home Affairs and request that it restore his or her marital status to what it was before‚ Preller said.
Department of Home Affairs spokesperson Thabo Mokgola confirmed to the New Age that women approach its offices in an attempt to back out of the fake marriage.
He said that where fraudulent activity is detected charges are laid with the police.

Dec 20, 2016 - Business Permit    No Comments

South African travel now requires a visa for Kiwis

South African travel now requires a visa for Kiwis
14/12/2016 – Newshub
New Zealand withdrew the visa waiver for South Africans effective from November (File)
Tourists who are planning a trip to South Africa may now have to factor in a trip to Wellington first in order to obtain a visa in person.
In a diplomatic tit-for-tat, the South African Government has withdrawn visa-free travel for New Zealand tourists traveling to South Africa for less than three months. To make matters more difficult, South Africa’s Minister of Home Affairs told media New Zealand nationals would have to travel to the High Commission in Wellington in order to submit their visa in person.
The change is a direct response to New Zealand’s withdrawal of a visa waiver for South African passport holders, which came into effect in November. Immigration New Zealand ended the visa waiver “as a result of an increase in the number of South Africa nationals who have been refused entry at the New Zealand border in comparison to other visa waiver countries”.
One-hundred-and-ninety-three South African passport holders were denied entry between January and May this year.
The South African government has not reported any problems with New Zealand passport holders overstaying or misusing their visas. Instead, the policy is “based on reciprocity”, South Africa’s Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba told media on Tuesday.
But South African passport holders traveling to New Zealand do not need to travel to a New Zealand Embassy in order to obtain a visa. The visa process can be initiated online, and passports can be sent via courier to the nearest Visa Application Service for confirmation of identity.
Mr Gigaba said New Zealand passport holders wishing to travel to South Africa should visit the Department of Home Affairs’ website to find out the documents they will need to accompany their visa application. They will then need to travel to “the South African High Commission in Wellington to submit a visa application form and supporting documents in person,” Mr Gigaba said.
New Zealand-South African comedian Urzila Carlson says it’s “unfortunate it’s come to this”.
“I understand why South Africa is doing it, I believe in a tit-for-tat solution to everything too,” Carson says.
“However the fact that it is 100 percent harder for Kiwis applying for a visa is a nuisance. That said, there’s quite a lot more South Africans coming to New Zealand for a visit than I’ve ever heard of New Zealanders going to South Africa for a visit.”
When approached by Newshub, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, “In terms of visas for entry to South Africa, it’s for the government of South Africa to determine its immigration policies.”
Newshub was told Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully was unavailable for comment as he is currently overseas. Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse was also unavailable for an interview.
The South African High Commission said in a statement New Zealanders should visit the department’s website to “acquaint themselves” with the new process.