Archive from June, 2018

Namibia: Home Affairs Drowning Under Fake Marriages

New Era – 09 June 2018
Windhoek — The Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration yesterday revealed it continues to battle the so-called ‘marriages of convenience’, mostly involving foreigners seeking to live in Namibia.
Briefing Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila who paid a familiarisation visit to the ministry yesterday, acting Chief Immigration Officer of the Department of Immigration Control and Citizenship Nehemia Nghishekwa said such marriages often end on a messy note because of failure to keep promises between those ‘married’.
“These are people who come to Namibia and get married on a contract basis and we only come to know about it when there is a default in payments by the partner,” he said.
The PM also heard that the ministry does not have accurate birth and death statistics – such as causes of deaths – but said it is working on a new system that it believes would be a game changer.
Home Affairs Director of Civil Registration Anette Bayer-Forsingdal briefed Kuugongelwa-Amadhila on this, saying it was due the fact that everything is done manually and typically when one collects data manually it would mostly likely contain inaccuracies.
“This is because everything is manually recorded from the ministry of health and only collect data from the ministry of health, not from private doctors, that is the problem,” she said.
However, she said the ministry is currently working on a new system to capture this important information.
Nghishekwa said during the last financial year the ministry managed to install a new electronic management system at port of entries and also managed to introduce the e-passport.
He said that during the year under review the country received just over two million visitors, while just under two million left Namibia.
He said despite limited resources his department managed to remove 1,595 prohibited immigrants from the country.
Also, Nghishekwa said the ministry managed to print 77,873 passports, issued 6,408 work visas, 37,820 temporary work visas, 1,128 permanent residence permits and just over 6,000 student visas.
He said currently the country has over 7,684 asylum seekers and refugees with the majority being from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). He said that refugees that are recognised are issued with identification documents and currently the ministry is working on the introduction of a refugee passport.
Also, he said, there are 922 Namibian refugees in Botswana, which has given those refugees two months to leave the country.
He said the Botswana government has invited Namibia to a meeting in that country on Thursday in that regard.

Slow passport control costs Cape Town airport millions in revenue

June 8, 2018 – Cape Town ETC

Cape Town International Airport (CTIA) has lost R25-million in retail revenue from duty-free shopping because of sluggish passport control and a shortage of staff.
At the Standing Committee on Economic Opportunities, Tourism and Agriculture this week, Western Cape spokesperson for Economic Opportunities, Tourism and Agriculture and a Member of Parliament, Beverley Schäfer, said that the average waiting time for inbound international passengers at passport control at CTIA currently sits at 27 minutes and 38 seconds, far above the international best practice average of 10 minute.
Schäfer continued to explain that these delays are caused by the reduced numbers of immigration officers employed at CTIA, coming down from 82 to 68. CTIA has also seen an increase in inbound flights by 750 000 since 2015. She confirmed that the Home Affairs’ passport control delays are causing an overall loss of R25-million in duty-free shopping.
Schäfer also stated that during peak hours, the Department of Home Affairs opens only five counters out of the available 18 to process, on average, 35 000 passengers per day, causing a bottleneck at passport control which causes delays for passengers and cripples airport activity.
Schäfer also expressed concern that the neglect of the airport’s duty-free shopping experience is largely affecting economic activity and threatening thousands of jobs in the Western Cape. She said she will shortly be addressing the diminishing numbers of Home Affairs officials employed at the CTIA with the Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities, Tourism, and Agriculture, Alan Winde.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) has promised to raise concerns with the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) regarding the number of immigration officials employed.
The official tourism, trade and investment promotion agency for the Western Cape and its capital Cape Town, Wesgro, has also joined the conversation stating that CTIA experienced a 20% growth in international terminal passengers, succeeding the world average of 8%.
The current growth of the Cape Town International Airport is expected to secure more than 150 000 international inbound seats from three new flight routes in 2018 alone. The delays and dwindling numbers of Home Affairs officials are expected to greatly affect this growth and threaten thousands of employees within the tourism and retail sectors as well as discourage the return of international visitors to the Mother City.

‘This is a national embarrassment': Cape Town refugee office under fire again

05 June 2018 – Times Live
As he waited outside the Cape Town Refugee Reception Office on Tuesday‚ a man seeking to renew his permit said conditions at the office had deteriorated over the 14 years he had been in South Africa.
“It’s pathetic‚” said the man‚ who declined to give his name.
He was one of dozens of people queueing at Customs House on the Foreshore‚ which has been at the centre of a legal battle over the Department of Home Affairs’ decision to close the office to new applicants in 2012.
Last September‚ the Supreme Court of Appeal ordered the department to reopen the office. The Constitutional Court dismissed an appeal‚ telling home affairs to have the office fully reopened by March 31. It has yet to do so.
The DA home affairs spokesman‚ Haniff Hoosen‚ who visited the office on Tuesday‚ said it was a mess‚ with unsuitable office equipment‚ poor facilities‚ long queues and lack of security.
“There are… hundreds of people sitting in there‚ all of whom are very desperate and under a lot of pressure and frustrated by waiting for so many hours‚” he said. “That’s a recipe for disaster.”
Hoosen said Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba should answer to the parliamentary portfolio committee for why the office had not yet fully reopened to new applicants.
Home affairs spokesman Mayihlome Tshwete said the department was working with the Department of Public Works to find a suitable building. “Home Affairs doesn’t have the power to go and occupy a building‚” he said.
Hoosen pointed to other issues with the refugee office‚ saying its treatment of refugee and asylum seekers is xenophobic.
“The manner in which our government is treating people‚ from especially African countries‚ is just really‚ really sad‚ and it’s an embarrassment to who we are‚” he said.
His assessment was echoed by Tendai Bhiza‚ who came to South Africa from Zimbabwe in 2004 to seek asylum. She said at one point she had to make up excuses to get into the building‚ then had to sneak around until she found the proper office.
“For us to enter that door‚ it was like a gold mine‚” said Bhiza‚ who now works with the NGO People Against Suffering‚ Oppression and Poverty‚ which campaigns for the rights of refugees‚ asylum seekers and immigrants.
Tshwete criticised Hoosen for taking his concerns to the media before going through the portfolio committee.
“If we really want to make a long-lasting solution to the problem‚ let’s make progress on the real issues‚” he said.

Automated biometric ID to speed up processing at ports of entry

22 May 2018 – Tourism Update

The Automated Biometric ID System will see quicker response times at ports of entry in SA.
The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has launched its Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) which is expected to enable quicker response times at ports of entry.
Speaking at the Taj Hotel in Cape Town on May 16, Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba, commented: “This modern IT system will integrate with other relevant systems, inside and outside Home Affairs, to allow for one holistic view of the status of the clients. It will serve as a single source for biometric authentication of citizens and non-citizens across state institutions and private sector clients.”
Minister said the system brought several benefits, including quicker response times at ports of entry to capture and verify a traveller’s identity and an improved border control.
The ABIS project was initiated in January 2016 with the aim of replacing the Home Affairs National Identity System (HANIS), which is manually operated and seemingly outdated, according to the DHA.
The Minister said one of the major challenges with HANIS was the imminent collapse of the over 20-year-old biometrics database, which left the department with no choice but to conduct a technology upgrade.
“The ABIS project will be rolled out in phases, over a five-year period. Among others, implementation will entail migration of the current HANIS data (fingerprints and facial recognition) to the new ABIS, with improved functionality, installation and configuration of ABIS infrastructure and building of system functionalities,” said Gigaba.
Haniff Hoosen, DA Shadow Minister of Home Affairs said that he supports the digitalisation taking place at Home Affairs, as it increases security. According to Hoosen, the ABIS has a greater inter-face and is an overall improvement.
Jose Cruz, National Executive Client Services Manager of HRG Rennies Travel, feels that the new biometric identification system will not afford immigration more capacity to deal with international travellers. He argues that it will only add yet another step for travellers to get through airport gates, thus contributing to, rather than reducing, traffic.
Cruz recently had a group of Nigerian travellers in transit at OR Tambo International Airport (Ortia) who were seemingly disgruntled about the lengthy queues due to the amount of time that the finger scanning process was taking. He adds that the ongoing problem regarding the lack of staff at Ortia does not help.
Hoosen however says that despite initial delays during the systems introduction at Ortia, things seem to be running smoothly at present.

Four simple ways to keep your customers happy

Four simple ways to keep your customers happy
How to retain clients’ business in the long run
Clients are savvier than ever when it comes to technology and their businesses, so it’s no longer enough for MSPs and VARs to offer the most in-demand services and leave it at that. If solution providers really want to retain clients, they must create a partnership that establishes them as a trusted technology advisor, and an integral part of the client’s business.
This may be easier said than done, but nonetheless there is some straightforward advice that technology solution providers can apply, whatever their service offering may be, to ensure that clients stay with them for the long run.
Create service delivery standards
Every interaction with a customer, whether it’s in person or remotely via automation tools, affects customer service levels. It’s important to create standards for those interactions so your customers always know what to expect from you.
One way to do this is by building a knowledge base of standard solutions to common problems. This way, any technician servicing any customer can quickly find the documentation outlining a particular fix and implement it.
It is also worth taking the time to educate customers on your service delivery standards and processes to set reasonable expectations from the start. Service level agreements (SLAs) help keep your customers and team on the same page, and if customers know what to expect from you, they’re less likely to have inflated expectations that you later have to dispel.
Implement a record-keeping process
Over the lifetime of a contract, your client could have interactions with several members of your team, which may result in a different experience every time. One way of ensuring they have consistently exceptional service is detailed documentation.
Having a unified process for documenting client conversations, issues and configurations – usually in a CRM system – can be the difference between an acceptable and an exceptional customer experience. If a client calls about a recurring issue, and your team member is able to see straight away what the previous problems have been, it reassures the customer that the technician knows their situation, even if it’s the first time this particular employee has spoken to them.
Stay in front of your clients
While automation tools are great for being efficient, they can result in long periods of time where you don’t touch base with your clients. But this is a service business, and client retention is heavily influenced by human interaction.
There are a number of simple and effective ways of reaching out to clients, from service anniversaries to sharing helpful technical tips and following up after problems are solved to ensure there are no residual issues.
Not hearing from a client doesn’t necessarily mean that everything is fine. While many people will feel no need to contact the company if they’re satisfied, others will quietly grumble about flaws in service or products, and will seek alternatives without even voicing their complaints so the situation can be remedied.
Offer two-way communication
Quarterly business reviews are one way to proactively stay in front of your customers on a regular basis. These can be used to discuss reporting, show the number of issues that have been fixed and demonstrate the value of your services, and can also solidify contract renewals long before it’s time to re-sign.
Finally, customer satisfaction surveys can be a valuable way of retaining clients. A big part of your job is resolving issues quickly for clients when problems arise, and dissatisfaction with the process or resolution of these issues can play a large role in customers’ overall opinion of your services.
Building customer satisfaction surveys into your service delivery can give customers an opportunity to voice concerns as well as pro

UK Ancestry Dependents – More FAQ

UK Ancestry Dependents – More FAQ
2018-05-18 – SAMI

Following our previous article on UK Ancestry Dependents, we had some follow-up questions from readers.
UK Ancestry Dependents and Employment
My spouse is a UK Ancestry Visa holder, and I the dependent on this visa. Do I need to work while on the dependency visa?
The UK Ancestry Visa holder is required to undertake employment. The Dependent is not required to meet any employment requirement. However, should you wish to work, the good news is that there are no work restrictions on your stay in the UK.
UK Ancestry Dependents and Leave to Enter
I have recently applied for a dependency visa based on the UK Ancestral Visa. How long will I have before I have to enter the UK?
The entry clearance is valid for 30 days. You will have to enter the UK within this period and collect your Biometric Residence Permit in the UK.
UK Ancestry Dependents and ILR
My spouse is the holder of a UK Ancestry Visa and will be applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain shortly. I have so far only completed three years in the UK. Can I also apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain with my spouse?
You will be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain together with your spouse. However, you will not qualify for British citizenship, until you have completed the residence period required.
Applying separately
My husband will be applying for the UK Ancestral Visa within the next month. Is it possible for me and our children to apply for our dependency visa at a later stage, as we first want to complete the school year in South Africa?
Yes, it is possible to apply for the UK Ancestral visa, and dependency visas separately.
UK Ancestry Dependents and Travel Restrictions
Do the dependents of the UK Ancestral Visa also have to adhere to the 180-day travel restriction?
Yes, the UK ancestral holder is required to meet the 180-day travel restriction per year, and we highly recommend that the dependents do so as well.
Switching from within the UK
I am currently in the UK as a Tier 4 student. I intend to marry my girlfriend who is currently in the UK as a UK Ancestry visa holder. Will I be able to apply for leave to remain as her dependent on the UK Ancestry Visa?
Yes, provided you fulfill the normal dependency visa requirements, you will be able to switch from this category from within the UK, after your marriage to the UK Ancestry Visa holder.

VFS Global keeps mum as Nigerians condemn extortion by visa processing firm

Jun 3, 2018 – Premium Times

A visa processing, VFS Global, has been on the receiving end of criticisms after a PREMIUM TIMES report revealed how the company extort Nigerians who seek its services.
While angry Nigerians, civil society organisations and activists are still complaining weeks after the report was published, the company has refused to respond to the revelations.
Some accuse the company of mistreating Nigerians, saying it often indiscriminately hiked its service charges as well as posed a lackadaisical attitude in discharging the services paid for. Others, however, blamed the country’s regulators for not setting good standard of operation for the company.
VFS Global is an outsourcing and technology services specialist for governments and diplomatic missions worldwide. The company manages visa and passport issuance-related administrative tasks for its client governments.
Since most countries find it cumbersome to create visa processing desks in their embassies, VFS Global serves as the courier between intending travellers and the diplomatic missions of the countries they are traveling to.
In Nigeria, VFS processes visas for citizens who want to travel to mostly European and African countries such as UK, Canada, Belgium, France, South Africa, among others.
What irked customers the most appears to be the “unbelievably high” service charges the company receives from applicants.
For instance, when PREMIUM TIMES commenced the investigations in November 2017, the South African Visa fee was put at N8,600. But VFS was collecting an additional N25,465 as service charge, almost three times the visa fee.
The company also collects N400 as SMS charge which applicants describe as ‘high’ complaining of not even receiving the SMS most times.
Lanre Suraj, convener of the Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC), said his organisati0n has been kicking against the SMS charge which it described as “fraudulent.”
Reacting to our report, he said, “I think this is actually a commendable effort on the part of PREMIUM TIMES for taking time to investigate all the circumstances surrounding the exploitative tendencies of VFS which takes undue advantage of the failure of our monitoring agencies and institutions. Quite a number of our agencies are terribly compromised that they don’t bother to do any form of check.
“The SMS charge of VFS is crazy. Going by what the director of the company said earlier, it shows VFS makes about N80 million from Nigerians annually just from SMS alone. It is also rather unfortunate that they charge beyond any control mechanism. I think for anywhere in the world , the service charge should be the percentage of the actual service. It is not reasonable to charge even 100 percent not to talk of three times the actual service rendered.
“It is important we take it up to the appropriate agencies. We need to also take these complaints to the embassies and intimate them on the exploitation by VFS because they are acting on their behalf. We need to understand if the embassies are in conspiracy with VFS to exploit Nigerians. If not then they have to withdraw from VFS, I mean there are still embassies that are operating without them.
“The problem is that companies like VFS tread on the vulnerability of many Nigerians. So many people don’t know that VFS is not responsible for the granting and refusal of their visa so they are scared of challenging them. Regulators should sufficiently educate citizens on this issue so they can know their rights.”
For Martins Obono, a frequent traveler, the activities of VFS in Nigeria should be critically probed.
“Even when you call their customer care line to log in a complaint, they will still charge you in pounds.”
Lanrey Sanusi said, “Worst about them is that your visa will get lost and no explanation. To make it worst for you, they will tell you to go to the embassy when you submitted it to them and when you get to the embassy they will tell you to go back to VFS. We have two international passports still missing for over a year now and still the same story. They lack customer service.”
MB Adegun said, “I agree that VFS extorts. To apply for a Swedish visitors’ visa, I paid N48,400. Only N21,900 goes to the Swedish embassy. The official service fee is N10,950. There is an additional courier fee (N10,950) indicated as optional on the website. But at the counter (point of application), it is not. You are mandated to pay it. Quite sad that they only accept cash. Their services and charges should be looked into.”
Olugbenga Robeerts said, “Besides the gross extortion taking place, many of us feel dehumanised, especially by members of VFS staff who may not qualify as our own messengers in our respective offices. Most travellers are treated without dignity. VFS staff will always find excuse to reject many of your documents in order to allow patronage of their in-house cohorts.
“That VFS of a company is a sell-out. The way they defraud Nigerians is so alarming, especially the SMS charges. I don’t ever pray to have anything to do with them again. Poor service, no customer care service line, you can’t complain of a staff’s ill-treatment to the superior staff and get justice.
“The bad thing is that if you don’t know how to arrange your documents in accordance to the country you are applying for visa’s requirements, you cannot rely on VFS staff to put you through,” a traveller said.
VFS Keeps Mum
Before publishing the report, repeated efforts to get VFS Global to comment turned out a wild goose chase.
An official of the company told our reporter on two occasions then, “There is nobody available to respond to your questions.”
The telephone number listed on the company’s official website failed to connect for months and multiple calls and SMS inquiries sent to it therefore remain undelivered.
More than a week ago, this paper again sought the reaction of VFS to the myriad of complaints by angry Nigerians.
An official who was busy giving applicants directives at the gate of the company’s Abuja main office firmly told our reporter, “We have received complaints and write ups about our SMS charge and that is why we don’t talk or respond to journalists.”
After a while, he reluctantly called another official who contacted the company’s Lagos office.
The official from Lagos communication desk who simply identified himself as Deepaki on phone requested that questions be sent via two email addresses he forwarded on that Friday in a text message.
No response has come through more than a week after questions were forwarded to both email addresses.
Meanwhile, another look at the information board at the VFS Abuja office still shows the company is not planning to review downwards its service charges anytime soon.
The Ireland Visa details read: Visa fee – N26,000; Service charge – 19,450; SMS – 400; Courier – N450; Stamp Duty – 50.
According to information on the board, the Norway Visa fee surprisingly read ‘zero’ but VFS collects N10, 750 as service charge.
In what appears a clever antic to keep evading responsibility for SMS not sent or delivered, the company even put a new louder disclaimer on the board.
Ireland Visa details.“It is not the responsibility of VFS Global to ensure SMS service is received by the applicant,” the notice read. ”Our obligation is to send the SMS and we shall not be liable for any SMS not received.”