Archive from April, 2018

Schengan Visa application stricter due to fraud in SA

Schengan Visa application stricter due to fraud in SA

March 22, 2018 – Cape Town Net
Holidaying in the Barcelona, Madrid or any of the European Union (EU) countries will become more of an effort than planning the actual holiday itself. Unfortunately, Capetonians and other South Africans travelling to Spain or certain EU countries may now face stricter requirements when applying for a Schengen visa.
Immigration lawyer Gary Eisenberg, said that added requirements have been introduced after BLS International Services, a new visa facilitation company, replaced VFS Visa and Permit Facilitation Centre. Some ways that these requirements have been tightened include an increased turn-a-round time, while certain documents need authorisation by the Spanish police. Eisenberg said there were no specific changes, but rather an overall tightening of documentation from ‘high-risk’ countries such as South Africa.
BLS has its own proprietary standards with regards to applications, meaning that Spain has tightened its requirements when it comes to offering South Africans a Schengen visa.
Countries are becoming far more careful on documentation emanating from South Africa, which are seen as high risk for fraudulent documentation, and this is why Britain has imposed visa restrictions on South Africa.
“So governments I think, are united in their drive to screen documents more carefully,” Eisenberg said.
However, South Africa seems to be a common place for foreigners living with fraudulent visas and fraudulent identity documents.
The 26 Schengen countries are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
While the Department of Home Affairs confirmed at the end of January 2018 that visa-free travel to the EU was still being discussed for South Africa, the majority of European Union countries will not allow South Africans to enter without a Schengen or similar visa.
South Africans do not require a visa, or only require a visa on entry below to the following countries.
Visa-free entry
Angola Georgia Malaysia Singapore
Antigua & Barbuda Grenada Mauritius South Korea
Argentina Guatemala Micronesia St Vincent and the Grenadines
Bahamas Guyana Mozambique Swaziland
Barbados Haiti Namibia Tanzania
Belize Honduras Nicaragua Thailand
Benin Hong Kong Palestinian territories Trinidad and Tobago
Botswana Indonesia Panama Tunisia
Brazil Ireland Paraguay Uruguay
Chile Israel Peru Vanuatu
Costa Rica Jamaica Philippines Venezuela
Dominica Kenya Qatar Zambia
Dominican Republic Kosovo Russian Federation Zimbabwe
Ecuador Lesotho Saint Kitts and Nevis
El Salvador Macao Saint Lucia
Fiji Malawi Senegal
Visa on arrival
Armenia Ghana Marshall Islands Tajikistan
Bolivia Guinea-Bissau Mauritania Timor-Leste
Cambodia Iran Nepal Togo
Cape Verde Jordan Oman Turkey
Comoros Kyrgyzstan Palau Tuvalu
Djibouti Laos Rwanda Uganda
Ethiopia Madagascar Samoa
Gabon Maldives Seychelles (visitor’s permit)
Electronic Travel Authority (eTA) entry
Ivory Coast India Sri Lanka

Tweak to Australia’s immigration policy sees less overseas Asians

Tweak to Australia’s immigration policy sees less overseas Asians
15 April 2018 – Radio NZ
New Zealanders in Australia are now getting visas previously granted to mostly overseas-based Asians.
Peter Dutton has slowed Australia’s immigration intake by allowing New Zealanders already living in Australia to take visas that previously went to overseas migrants. Photo: AFP
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton is cutting the number of Asian immigrants allowed into Australia, to allow more New Zealanders to stay.
Traditionally, 44,000 places in Australia’s skilled independent visa programme have gone to applicants who are mostly Asian and living overseas.
But now as many as 10,000 New Zealanders who are already living and working in Australia will be part of this annual allocation.
The change is a result of a decision by the government to merge a new Kiwi visa with the existing skilled independent program, without increasing the number of visas in the scheme.
The Department of Home Affairs said the new policy was directly aimed at New Zealand citizens who have been living in Australia for at least five years and are making an economic contribution to Australia.
Fewer overseas visa arrivals
The Department of Home Affairs confirmed to the ABC that New Zealanders receiving the new visa are already counted as residents, reducing the number of people coming to Australia as a result of the programme.
The new visa was announced in 2016 as an acknowledgement of “the special relationship between the two nations”, according to a statement from the Prime Minister.
“The pathway is directly aimed at New Zealand citizens who have been living in Australia for at least five years and have made, and continue to make, a demonstrated economic contribution to Australia,” a spokesperson for the department said.
The move will help slow the growth of migration by thousands each year – without changing the government’s formal permanent intake.
Australia’s headline migration figure is currently calculated by the Australian Bureau of Statistics as 250,000 and growing at 15 percent in the year to September.
Mr Dutton told journalists that Cabinet had discussed reducing migration, although the Prime Minister declared there had been no formal submission for a cut to Australia’s permanent migration programme.
Treasurer Scott Morrison has previously said a cut to migration would hurt the economy.
From Asian migrants to the neighbourhood Kiwi
The tweak has also changed Australia’s migration mix.
It has substituted the mostly skilled Asian workers living overseas with Kiwis already working in Australia.
The skilled independent visa – traditionally assessed on points based on a worker’s experience – counts for approximately one quarter of Australia’s permanent visa programme: a ceiling of 44,000 individuals each year.
Alongside the employer-sponsored programme, it is Australia’s main source of skilled migrant workers.
Last year, three out of five successful applicants in the program were granted visas while living overseas.
In the first eight months of the scheme’s operation, 9000 New Zealanders had applied for the new visa, according to the department.
Wayne Parcell, immigration partner at EY, said Australia could expect around 10,000 Kiwi applications this year and noted that these visas were not restricted to specific occupations.
“The criteria for the new visa would seem to have more to do with the context of the Australia-New Zealand relationship than a predetermined impact on the skill segment of the migration programme.”
Points-based component shrinks
This influx of New Zealanders has coincided with a shrinking of the old points-based component.
There were 13,200 invitations to apply for one of these visas issued in 2017-18 by the end of February, down by almost 10,000 across the same period in the previous year.
The department spokesperson said invitation numbers “may vary depending on the number of applications currently being processed by the department”.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said this week that he had been “very careful in working through the numbers”.
“The idea of the migration programme in our country, as it was in the Howard government, as it was in the Abbott government, as it now is in the Turnbull government is to make sure we’re bringing the right people in,” he said.
“People who want to work, not be leading a life on welfare, people who want to integrate into our Australian society, people who want to abide by our values and our laws.”
New visa proves popular
Between 60,000 and 80,000 Kiwis are eligible for the new visa, according to different estimates.
The visa requires an applicant to live in Australia for five years and maintain an income over $53,900.
At the end of February 1512 of the new visas had already been granted and around 7500 were still being processed.
Applications only opened in July, and the process typically takes at least three months.
The new permanent visa gives Kiwis access to more welfare services and, unlike the standard visa available to New Zealand visitors, provides a pathway to citizenship.

Oppenheimer aviation battle costs Gigaba more than R800K

Oppenheimer aviation battle costs Gigaba more than R800K
20 April 2018 – Times Live
The Department of Home Affairs has to date spent R874‚199 on legal costs pertaining to Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba’s defence of his decision in the Fireblade Aviation matter.
This was confirmed on Thursday in a written reply by Gigaba to a parliamentary question by DA chief whip John Steenhuisen.
The case concerned Gigaba’s decision to overturn approval for the Oppenheimer-owned Fireblade Aviation to operate a private customs and immigration service at OR Tambo International Airport.
A judge found the minister to have lied to the court. He lost his appeal to a full bench of the high court‚ as well as his appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal‚ and has decided to take the matter to the Constitutional Court.
Steenhuisen said it was “absolutely unacceptable” that Gigaba’s involvement in the Fireblade Aviation matter would continue to incur legal fees “as he attempts to overturn the damning findings of the high court‚ which concluded that the minister lied under oath and violated the Constitution.
“The amount of legal costs incurred by the Department of Home Affairs to protect a constitutional delinquent will only continue to escalate as he needlessly pursues this matter at the expense of taxpayers.
“It is simply not enough for President Cyril Ramaphosa to express ‘great concern’ or ‘give serious attention’ to Gigaba’s unlawful conduct. The damning findings and escalating legal costs demand that the president immediately intervene and take action against the minister.”
Steenhuisen has laid a formal complaint with Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane‚ requesting that she investigate Gigaba’s conduct in the light of the judgment to determine whether he had contravened the Executive Members’ Ethics Act and the ethics code.
Mkhwebane has informed Ramaphosa her investigation will take longer than the stipulated one month.
Steenhuisen has criticised the delay‚ saying this should be an open and shut case.
But Oupa Segalwe‚ acting spokesman for the public protector‚ said the court found that Gigaba told “untruths under oath”‚ not that he breached the executive code of ethics. The public protector would have to determine whether his conduct was a breach of the code.

Delayed Brexit immigration plans ‘due in months’

Delayed Brexit immigration plans ‘due in months’
20 April 2018 – BBC News
Delayed proposals for Britain’s post-Brexit immigration policy will be published “in the coming months”, Downing Street has said.
The immigration bill would establish new rules for EU migrants to the UK after free movement ends.
An official policy document had been expected last autumn and the Times reports a “cabinet row” over delays.
The PM’s spokesman said ministers were “confident” the new system would be ready “for when we leave the EU”.
The immigration bill was in last year’s Queen’s Speech – it would enable the government to end the free movement of EU nationals into the UK but ministers said it would allow the country to attract “the brightest and the best”.
Last October, then immigration minister Brandon Lewis said a White Paper would be published in autumn 2017 with the bill being brought forward “in the New Year”.
In February, the home affairs committee noted there was still “considerable uncertainty about when the White Paper will be published” and said the delays had caused “anxiety for EU citizens in the UK, uncertainty for UK businesses and concern in Parliament”.
The Times reported on Friday that Brexit-supporting ministers were putting pressure on Home Secretary Amber Rudd to speed up the bill, amid concerns ministers want to use preferential access for EU workers as a bargaining chip with Brussels in Brexit talks.
Asked about the report, the prime minister’s spokesman said: “We’re considering a range of options for the future immigration system which will be based on the evidence.
“We will set out initial plans and publish a White Paper in the coming months with a bill to follow.”
Ms Rudd told the home affairs committee in March that the bill would be published “early next year” to establish new rules for 2021 – arguing that the agreement reached with the EU on citizens’ rights had “to a certain extent” had removed the urgency.
The Home Office said the transition period agreement meant that the immigration bill “will not be needed until after this period ends in December 2020. The bills will be brought forward when Parliamentary time allows”.

Zimbabwe: South Africa Approaches Minister Mpofu

Zimbabwe: South Africa Approaches Minister Mpofu
4 April 2018 – The Herald (Harare)
Africa’s Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has approached Government to discuss immigration issues. Home Affairs and Culture Minister Dr Obert Mpofu confirmed the discussion with his South African counterpart. He, however, noted that further discussions, which have been delayed due to the Easter Holidays, will be held in due course.
“I was contacted by South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister Gigaba just a few days ago. But because of the holidays I have not managed to talk to him. But I will call him when I get back to the office,” said Dr Mpofu.
“I am sure he would want us to talk about Zimbabweans that are in South Africa and the attitude of some of the immigration officers at the border posts, especially at Beitbridge where Zimbabweans have been subjected to unfair treatment by the South Africans.”
The imminent meeting between the two follows complaints by travellers over the ill-treatment they receive at the hands of South Africa’s immigration officials.
Last month, an immigration officer and her three supervisors were suspended after a viral video of her on social media sparked outrage.
The alleged harassment of travellers prompted Minister Gigaba to visit the South African side of the Beitbridge Border Post, where he uncovered security breaches by SA immigration officials.
The security breach could have led to some individuals entering and exiting the neighbouring country without being accounted for.
Dr Mpofu said the country will also assess whether travellers are not being harassed at the entry and exit point or not.
“We also want to check on our side if travellers are not subjected to harassment and certain influences which impede free movement of people,” he said.

Civil Union Amendment Bill: COPE Calls For Public Support

Civil Union Amendment Bill: COPE Calls For Public Support
The Daily Vox – 20 April 2018
The Congress of the People (Cope) is appealing to the members of the LGBTQIA+ community and the general public to support its proposed amendment of the Civil Union Act to remove a clause that permitted home affairs officials to recuse themselves from performing marriage ceremonies on religious and other grounds.
The South African Civil Union Act of 2006 legalised same-sex marriage in the country. The Act allows for two people over the ages of 18 years, irrespective their gender or sexual orientation, to be registered by a way of marriage or civil partnership. However, according to Section 6 of the Act, marriage officers are allowed, in writing to the minister of home affairs, to object “on the ground of consciousness, religion and belief to solemnising a civil union between persons of the same sex”, meaning that they will be exempted from officiating such marriages.
In its Amendment Bill, Cope says it wants to repeal this clause. The party said that many same-sex couples are being turned away from some home affairs officers, especially in rural areas, as all the marriage officers operating in those areas are exempted according to this section.
The party’s media officer Roche Kester explained to The Daily Vox that it was important for this Act to be amended because the LGBTQIA+ community experiences serious discrimination from public servants on various levels.
“We are now particularly focusing on the marriage officers that are supposed to serve as opposed to discriminate in our country, and for us it is important for everyone to have their right to equal treatment and equality when you receive public service from people that are in office,” she said.
Kester said they are calling for non-discrimination and inclusiveness from the department of home affairs to the LGBTQIA+ community.
Kester said they are hoping that the Act will be amended in Parliament. “As it stands, there are 421 marriage officers that said they don’t want the Act to change. But if you look at the population of about 1.3 million LGBTI individuals in this country… we believe that if the community stands together, there is a huge possibility it may just happen,” she said.
The party said it has not received enough submissions and is therefore calling for all LGBTQIA+ members and the general public to support the call.

Australian visa tweak likely to hit Indian migrants the hardest

Australian visa tweak likely to hit Indian migrants the hardest
16 Apr 2018 – SBS

Migration agents are predicting the government’s decision to merge a new visa for New Zealanders with the Skilled Independent (subclass 189) program will negatively impact Indian migrants.

The change, which was first announced in 2016, gives a pathway to permanent residency to up to 10,000 Kiwis annually who have been residing in Australia for at least five years.
But there are fears the move will result in fewer overseas applicants receiving visas under the skilled independent program.
According to the ABC, the government decided to open the new visa pathway to Australian-based New Zealanders without increasing the total number of visas under the scheme.
Applicants from India received the most number of visas under the skilled independent program in 2016-17.
In 2017, out of 42,422 places, Indian-born migrants claimed 14,484 of those visas. Migration agents say they feel that with the new Kiwi visa being merged into the program, Indian applicants stand to lose the most.
“It’s very simple, Indians have been receiving the most number of visas, any change would affect them the most,” says Yatharth Bharadwaj from Lotus Migration in Adelaide.
Many prospective Indian migrants are already feeling the pinch because of the reduced number of occupations for independent and state nominated visas.
The news comes after The Australian reported last week that Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton tried to convince his cabinet colleagues to cut Australia’s immigration intake by 20,000.
Mr Bharadwaj says some of his Indian clients in particular occupations are facing a long wait for an invite from the Department of Home Affairs to move their visa application forward.
“A lot of Indians apply in accountancy and IT. But the department isn’t issuing invites to them. In some cases the required points go as high as 80-85,” he said.
Applicants can apply for skilled permanent visas if they have a minimum of 60 points for their educational qualifications, work experience, English proficiency etc. The department issues invites to applicants based on merit.
India is a huge source of immigration to Australia. Almost a quarter of 457 temporary skilled visas were issued to Indian workers before it was abolished last month.
Last year, applicants from India topped the list of nationalities with 38,854 visas (21.2 per cent) out of total 183,608 visas granted under Australia’s immigration program. In 2015-16, a total of 40,145 visas were granted to Indians.