Archive from April, 2021

Don’t Be Declared “Undesirable”

Many tourists have been thrown into the deep end as Home Affairs implement South African visa changes overnight.
I’m sure by now many of you have read or heard about the recent rules that have come into effect for the SA Visa. After doing some research I decided to gather some information together to try and put your minds at ease and make sure you are aware of how to avoid being declared an “undesirable” person.
First… The changes.
90 Day Tourist Visa & Extensions
As before, upon arrival into South Africa you will receive a 90 day Tourist Visa (exemptions apply, please check the DHA website). This Visa has the option of a further 90 day extension (total 180 days), however at present these are not guaranteed and are quite difficult to get approved in time.
Extensions can be done via VFS Global, a visa facilitation company. Applications must be done online through the VFS website, by filling in an application form, scheduling an appointment and paying the relevant fee via EFT.
On the day of your appointment at VFS you will need to submit all documentation and have your biometric data recorded. You will be given a receipt that must be kept to collect your passport and documents IF your extension is granted.
Travelling With Children
Parents travelling with children under the age of 18 MUST carry an Unabridged Birth Certificate in addition to the child’s passport.
This applies to ALL travel… Inbound, Outbound and In Transit.
When a child is travelling with one parent, that parent in addition to the above must also have consent from the other parent in the form of an Affidavit or Court Order or in the case of the other parent being deceased, a Death Certificate.
If the child is travelling unaccompanied, proof of consent from both parents or if one parent, an Affidavit/Court Order/Death Certificate as stated above.
A letter from the person who will be receiving the child containing the residential address and contact details where the child will be residing, a copy of the Passport/Identity Document for the receiving person and lastly the contact details of the parents.
Second… The Problems
90 Day Tourist Visa & Extensions
Clients who wish to apply for the extension of a further 90 days must make application as soon as possible once arriving in South Africa. Processing time is currently taking approximately 60 days and longer.
If your application is not granted before your 90 days is up, you MUST leave South Africa within those 90 days. Persons who stay beyond that period will be declared “undesirable” and prohibited from re-entry into South Africa for:
• 1 year, if you overstay 30 days or less;
• 2 years, if you overstay for a second time within 24 months;
• 5 years, if you overstay more than 30 days.
Persons will also be fined at the airport on departure.
These bans and fines can be appealed but can take months, be expensive and have no guarantee of a positive outcome.
“Border Hopping” (travelling into neighbouring countries for short periods and re-entering South Africa) is no longer allowed.
Persons who come in for 6 months every year, “Swallows” are advised to apply for the 4 Year Tourist Visa, in their home country.
Please note: There is NO GUARANTEE that your application for a Visa Extension will be granted and no refund is applicable if the application is denied.
Travelling With Children
Travel will not be permitted at all if the documentation needed is not provided. This stands when leaving your home country or South Africa when travelling with children under the age of 18.

Department of Home Affairs flouts court orders, year after year

Still no functional refugee reception office in Cape Town.
Home Affairs still does not serve new applicants in Cape Town despite a Supreme Court of Appeal ruling that says it must reopen and maintain a fully functional refugee reception office.
• Despite court orders, since Home Affairs closed its refugee reception office in Cape Town it has not reopened a new one.
• Home Affairs dragged the matter through the courts for six years, losing every time.
• Since 2017 it has made little progress in reopening a “fully functional refugee reception office in or around the Cape Town” as ordered by the court.
• In a recent report Home Affairs said it had had to start the tender process from scratch.

Nearly two years have passed since the Department of Home Affairs promised to open a Cape Town Refugee Reception Office (CTRRO) once again, and nearly a decade has passed since it decided in 2012 to stop processing new asylum applications in Cape Town.

In a judgment on 30 August 2012, the Western Cape High Court ordered Cape Town Home Affairs to start serving new applicants again. The judge said the cost to Home Affairs of assisting newcomers was negligible compared to the harm done to them.

The court said delaying implementation of the court order would cause grievous harm to asylum seekers. While undocumented, they would be subject to arrest and deportation.

Yt Home Affair proceeded to drag the matter through the courts until in September 2017, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) ruled that Home Affairs must “reopen and maintain a fully functional refugee reception office in or around the Cape Town Metropolitan Municipality by 31 March 2018.”

Home Affairs sought leave to appeal from the Constitutional Court but this was refused. This means the SCA ruling is final.

In January 2019, GroundUp reported that Home Affairs, which by then was already in contempt of the court order, said a site in Maitland had been identified by the Department of Public Works and the proposed date for the office to be occupied was 1 June 2019, according to the Legal Resource Centre (LRC).

In July 2019, the LRC requested Home Affairs submit a detailed plan for the new office, including updated timelines and the reason for missing its June deadline.

Last week, Petra Marais, attorney at LRC, said Home Affairs had sent reports every three to six months, instead of the monthly reports ordered by the Supreme Court of Appeal in 2017.

Marais said, “The last report received from Home Affairs for the period of August 2020 to January 2021 advised that Home Affairs together with the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure has put out another tender during 2020 for new premises for the CTRRO, and from the bids received have now identified a premise in Epping.”

“The LRC has not received updated time lines nor a list of tasks completed during this time. From the reports filed by Home Affairs we were notified that the reason the previous premises fell through was that the landlord could not deliver on all the requirements set by Home Affairs. The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure thereafter advised Home Affairs that the tender process has ‘restarted from scratch’. We were given no reason as to why the tender process had to restart since the Department received five tenders from its 2018 bid, and therefore had four more tenders to consider.”

Marais said the reports filed by Home Affairs “still fail to provide us with timelines, adequate direction and sufficient information for why the Department is not complying with the SCA order”.

Despite various announcements by Home Affairs, refugees and asylum seekers have been struggling to access services for almost a decade now, and the situation became worse when the pandemic struck.

At present, Home Affairs in Cape Town only renews asylum documents and refugee statuses for people who originally applied in Cape Town.

With lockdown in March last year, services were suspended and Home Affairs declared an automatic renewal of documentation. At present, asylum seeker permits that expired, or were due to expire during lockdown, are valid until 31 March 2021.

Last year, the Scalabrini Centre said it is concerned about the number of refugees and asylum seekers with expired documents, and that the Department of Home Affairs has not made public any plans about dealing with the disruption caused by Covid-19.

GroundUp has tried to get comment from Home Affairs spokesperson Siya Qoza and media manager David Hlabane since 17 March

Retired Permit / Visa – South Africa

A retired permit, visa, as a means of immigration to South Africa, is granted to immigrants wishing to spend their retirement years in South Africa. For immigration to South Africa, under the category of a retired permit, the criteria is based on the premise that the immigrant is not looking to work, study or carry out their own business.
Retired Permit / Visa Criteria
As with all permit applications and visa applications associated with immigration to South Africa, there are a number of criteria that must be satisfied. Below are some of the main points:
• There are no age restrictions on a retired persons permit, either for a minimum age or maximum;
• Applications for retired person permits can be made under the temporary and permanent categories;
• Both income and capital can be used when a temporary or permanent retired person permit is being applied for;
• Pension, retirement or an irrevocable annuity and other lifetime guaranteed income can be utilized when applying for a Permanent Residency in the Retired Persons category.
Working out if you qualify for a retired permit / visa
Working out whether you meet the qualifying criteria can be quite complex as only certain types of income and capital are allowed. To ensure you meet the qualifying criteria you would need to contact us.
Retired Permit / Visa – Temporary Residency
Applications for retired permits under temporary residency can be made for a period of 4 years only. After the 4 years they can be further extended by making an application to home affairs and proving that the criteria are still being met.
As a retired persons permit one of the main criteria concerns the prospective immigrant’s financial status and proving they have sufficient means to support themselves.
For temporary residency each applicant must demonstrate that they have: ZAR 37,000 per month, per applicant. This can be in the form of cash/cash equivalents or cash income generated by capital asset(s). The proof of funds can be either of the aforementioned or a combination of both.
Retired temporary permit / visa based on cash or cash equivalents:
For each month the couple apply for a temporary retired persons permit, they would need to show cash available to the amount of ZAR 37,000. Therefore the 4 year permit equation would be 48 months (4 years/12 months in a year) times ZAR 37,000 per month. A figure of ZAR 1,776,000 in cash or cash equivalents will need to be shown as proof of funds in order for the couple to qualify.
Retired temporary (or permanent residency) based on cash income generated by a capital asset or pension:
A married couple with an income of R74,000 per month from appropriate property rental income or pension.
The criteria would be met and the couple could apply for the 4 years under the retired persons permit category. They could also apply for permanent residency provided the rental income or pension income used as proof of funds can be proved to be life-long guaranteed. For more details see the below section Retired Permit/Visa permanent residency.
For a Retired Permit / Visa for Permanent Residency
Permanent residency applications under the retired permit category can be made without the need to first obtain temporary residency, but in practice most immigrants will apply for both (where they meet the qualifying criteria) due to the long processing times of Home Affairs – approximately 24 months.
The financial criteria for retired permits under the permanent category are similar to that of temporary in that the ZAR 37,000 monthly income needs to be proved. However, the proof of funds needs to be life-long guaranteed income and not capital based or a cash lump sum.
Please note that at the time of submission of your Retired Permanent Residency application, the annuity or pension income needs to be payable at the current date. Bank statements will be needed as supporting evidence that these funds are credited into your account when submission takes place.
Financially independent permit – the alternative to proving income
For those applicants who cannot meet the required income levels for residency under the retired permit or retired visa a suitable alternative for those with assets over 12 million rand would be the Financially independent permit. You can read more about the permit and visa alternative here.

Relatives permit / visa for immigration to South Africa

Relatives permit visa for immigration to South Africa
Considering immigration to South Africa and have relatives already here? Below we discuss the relatives permit / visa option, how to apply and who qualifies.
Who can apply for a relatives permit?
In order to successfully apply for a relatives permits / visa you will need to be a first kin.
First kin relatives may apply for both temporary residence and permanent residence, known as a relatives visa and relatives permit, whereas second kin may only apply for temporary residence, the relatives visa.
What are first kin and second kin relatives?
• First kin relatives are those of a parent, child or husband/wife relationship.
• Second kin relatives are brothers and sisters.- Temporary Residence only
Can you work on a relatives permit / visa?
This will depend on whether you apply and receive the relatives visa (temporary residence) or the relatives permit (permanent residence)
The relatives visa
A temporary relatives visa does not allow for the holder to work or run a business. It simply allows the holder to be able to immigrate to South Africa for a set period of time, normally 2 years, and not undertake any other activities. In essence almost akin to a long term tourist visa.
If you would like more information on working or running a business in South Africa as an immigrant you can use the below links:
The relatives permit
Those successful applicants for a relatives permit, are afforded nearly all the rights of a South African citizen as they are awarded permanent residence. Permanent residence allows you total freedom to work, study or own and work in businesses as you please.
Can a temporary relatives visa be renewed?
Yes they can, but in practice renewing a temporary relatives visa is the same as applying for a new one and the applicant must meet all the current criteria for the visa application to be successful.
How long does permanent residency relatives permit take?
The Department of Home Affairs publishes time scales but in reality these are often not adhered to. Experience in submitting many relatives permit applications has shown us that you can wait for up to 2 years before they are issued.
As many people do not plan their immigration 2 years in advance, it is often the case that we have to apply for both temporary and permanent residency under the relatives category to fit in with peoples immigration timetables.
Must I be sponsored by my South African relative?
There is a requirement for a financial assurance in the amount of R8500 per month, per person. This financial assurance must be from the sponsor (South African relative).
What is needed for a relatives permit application?
The applicant will be required to furnish amongst other the following documents .
The passport which is required to have at least one blank page for the insertion of the permit / visa;
• A passport
• Proof of the relatives relationship, such as birth certificates, marriage certificates etc;
• Documentation that proves the availability of financial support per month per person for financial assurance (a waiver can be applied for spouses or dependent minor children of a South African citizen/permanent resident to waive the minimum financial requirements).
Do you submit from overseas or in South Africa?
The spouses, life partners and children (minor or major) of South African citizens and permanent residents can submit their relative visa applications in South Africa from a visitors visa, following the issuance of Directive 7 of 2019 implemented in July 2019.
Unfortunately, this does not extend to parents of South Africans. Parents and other eligible relatives must submit their visa applications at an embassy or consulate abroad.

Life Partner Permit South Africa

A life partner permit is an application based upon the individuals relationship with a South African for permanent residence.
Who should apply for a life partner permit South Africa?
Applications for a life partner permit should be made by those individuals who are in a permanent relationship with a South African citizen or Permanent Residence holder.
Life partner permits do not discriminate between hetrosexual or same-sex couples and the requirements and process are identical.
What is the definition of a life partner in South Africa?
Lets first look at the official definition:
“Such relationship must be intended to be permanent, exclude any other person and involve cohabitation, an obligation of mutual emotional support between the parties and a reciprocal obligation to support one another financially in circumstances where the one has the means to do so and the other requires such support to maintain, without recourse to public funds, his or her financial and social standing and standard of living.”
This is not a black and white area and perhaps one of the most difficult parts of applying for a life partner permit. As with many countries South Africa places a large emphasis on the period of cohabitation.
For a life partner permit this cohabitation period must be for 5 years.
If you cannot meet the 5 year cohabitation requirements then please see here for details on the temporary residence option, the life partner visa.
There is also an onus of proving the relationship meets the official definition and proving the relationship is akin to that of a married one with both emotional and financial support being factors.
Therefore applications for life partner permits need to ensure that they include ample proof of the permanent nature of their relationship.
What type of proof needs to be submitted with a Life Partner permit application?
Proof needs to substantiate both the historic nature of the relationship as well as it going forward. Obvious items include:
• Joint bank statements
• Joint financial commitments
• Proof of cohabitation
• Affidavits from relations and friends as to the nature and term of the relationship
Most of these of course apply to financially supporting each other, emotional support can be hard to prove with documentation.
For this very reason and the fact that the life partner permit is one of the most abused in South Africa, interviews are compulsory. Interviews comprise of a Department of Home Affairs or Consulate Official taking up their right to call the applicant and their spouse in for interviews.
These interviews will normally be conducted separately and together and the aim is for the official to form an opinion as to whether the couple meet the criteria of proving the relationship is in keeping with the official definition.
It must therefore be stressed that advice and consultation from an immigration expert is best sought.
Where to apply for your Life Partner permit
Currently Life partner permits are commonly applied for in South Africa. The life partner of the South African would enter South Africa on a Travel visa, valid for 3 months. After entry they would then make the submission at a Department of Home Affairs Office.
This route is now available to most people as new legislation has prevented any permit or visa application in South Africa that changes an applicants status.
Can you work on a Life Partner Permit?
Yes you can. In fact, you can enjoy all the rights that a South African Citizen does with regards to your ability to work, run a business or study.
Life partner permits can be a complex area and the burden of proof on the relationship is one key element.

Luxury homes back in demand, foreign buyers getting back into SA market

A penthouse in the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town sold for R45 million. The low interest rate seemed to have little impact on the luxury housing market, but this seems to be changing.
There has also been in increase in foreign buyers looking for and buying property in SA. The March Lightstone Residential Property Index shows that annual house price inflation was 4.0% at the end of February 2021 signifying a positive increase from the previous month.*
Luxury homes are back in demand in South Africa, according to Megan Ladbrook, general manager of Frankie Bells Real Estate, which specialises in luxury real estate. The agency defines luxury homes as those priced from R3 million upwards. They are seeing an increased demand in the Northern suburbs of Gauteng,
southern suburbs of Cape Town and in coastal towns such as Ballito, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay.
“While the low repo rate has driven demand amongst first-time home buyers and buyers in the low to mid-price range, it has had little effect on the luxury housing market,” says Ladbrook. In her view, however, this is about to change.
As investor confidence begins to rise, global statistics released by Luxury Portfolio International (LPI) has indicated that between 30% and 50% of high net-worth individuals are planning to buy at least one additional luxury property in the next year – compared to just 20% last year,” she adds..
At the same time, it is important to remember that the luxury market has taken a knock in terms of asking price. “We have seen homes go for as much as 30% less than the initial asking price,” she says. “We are dealing with a surplus of luxury homes on the market. Key drivers for the sales of these homes include so-called semigration between provinces, the need to upscale or downscale, and emigration,” she explained. In addition, a number of properties used as Airbnbs are now up for grabs. These homes are usually well kept and well located.
Among South Africa buyers, gated communities and lifestyle estates remain in high demand. In addition, those with extra money and looking to take advantage of the low interest rates are now investing in holiday homes.
*Foreign buyers*
According to Samuel Seeff, chair of the Seeff Property Group, it has seen increased activity from foreign buyers at the high-end price levels. One such example is the sale of a R45 million penthouse in Cape Town’s Waterfront area to a German buyer.
The group also recently sold a R36 million property in Fresnaye, Cape Town to a buyer from the United Arab Emirates and two sales of more than R20 million each in Constantia Upper to buyers from Zimbabwe and Malawi respectively.
“Overall, sales to foreign buyers across Cape Town’s Atlantic Seaboard and City Bowl are 36% higher compared to 2019 and is the highest in the past three years. Almost one third of all high value sales have been to foreign buyers,” says Seeff.
“While the luxury areas are doing exceptionally well in the price bands to around R5 million to R8 million (R18 million on the Atlantic Seaboard), sales in the R20 million-plus sector remains well below what it was in 2017. That said, sales are taking place across the board in the high-end areas from Zimbali to Plettenberg Bay and Cape Town as well as in certain Gauteng locations.”
He explains that, generally, the market remains driven by the low interest rate with the highest volume of activity still below R3 million as first-time buyers continue taking advantage, but they are also seeing buyers upgrading, or investing or relocating for a better quality of life. At the top end of the market, buyers can find great value given that prices of properties, often not seen before, are now at about 20% to 30% lower compared to 2017, according to Seeff.
The March Lightstone Residential Property Index shows that annual house price inflation was 4.0% at the end of February 2021 signifying a positive increase from the previous month. According to the index report, this optimism is evident at provincial level and the different value bands with the exception of the low-value segment (properties of less than R250 000). This is because the historically low interest rate has enabled both the participation in the higher value market for new homeowners and the ability to upgrade for low-value homeowners.

Three months’ rent or a ticket back home? Cape Town refugee, asylum seeker groups must decide

The Cape Town refugees and asylum seekers living in two large tents in Cape Town have been given a two week deadline to leave.
They must choose between getting three months’ rent and food to help them get back on their feet, or a free ticket back to their country of origin.
Either way, the government plans to cut off the services provided during the Covid-19 hard lockdown. The group of asylum seekers and refugees living in two tents in Cape Town since the lockdown started have been given an ultimatum – leave or face deportation. On Monday Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said there are only two options left after a lengthy stand off:
Find somewhere else to live and accept an offer from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to cover three months’ rent and food while settling back in, or;
Accept a free ticket to their country of origin paid for by the UN International Organisation for Migration.
Either way, all of the services provided for them at the marquees at Paint City in Bellville and opposite a cemetery in Wingfield, will be removed two weeks from 14 April. “We agree it might turn out ugly,” said Motsoaledi in a media briefing on Monday. “But that’s not our intention. We are painfully aware that they are going to push children and women in front.” Motsoaledi said the entire situation, which came to prominence with a sit-in at an arcade in the Cape Town CBD, and ended with removal from in- and around the Central Methodist Mission to two marquees, had been mischaracterised as the forced removal of refugees and asylum seekers. He said they were moved because of breaches of by-laws and the Covid-19 hard lockdown Level 1 rules preventing sleeping on pavements and in crowded spaces.
He accused the group of an “ill conceived” and “orchestrated” campaign to be relocated to the French-speaking region of Quebec in Canada for better social benefits than those offered by South Africa. “The protesters deny that – but we have established it,” said Motsoaledi. He said this final offer comes after extensive consultation and discussion between UN agencies, government departments, and the embassy of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where 85% of the 1 553-strong group comes from originally. He said the ultimatum comes after the City of Cape Town was set to remove all of its services from the two sites. Motsoaledi explained that South African law does not allow for “refugee camps”.
This means that the Auditor-General had taken the City of Cape Town to task for spending money not provided for in any legislation. This would be regarded as the dreaded “irregular expenditure” and neither the City, nor the Department of Home Affairs is prepared to get on the wrong side of the Auditor-General for what the AG regards as, ..tented camps for refugees”, not covered in any South African law or financial processes.
Motsoaledi said the Premier of the Western Cape Alan Winde stepped in and said the provincial government would bear the responsibility for the services at the tents for only two weeks to give all of the agencies involved in the offer time to execute it. He some of the occupants have already accepted the offer and have sent messages of thanks as they settle into the new accommodation they found when taking up the offer.
He claimed some people in the two groups clearly left for jobs every day, sleeping at the tents in the hopes that the Canada relocation demand will come through. Of those in the group, who have applied for refugee or asylum seeker status in South Africa, 583 were rejected and decided to appeal to the Refugee Authority of SA. A further 382 were rejected by the refugee reception offices as not qualifying as refugees. Two hundred and sixty four of the appeals have been completed, and are being reviewed, with 174 finalised. Forty-one people have been deported, after a magistrate confirmed the deportation orders. “The deported leaders, these 41, they include the ring leaders of this rebellion,” said Motsoaledi.
Two of the three leaders of the group – Aline Bukhuru and Papi Sukhami -have already been deported and the third, JP Balous, is in custody awaiting criminal charges following a confrontation in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court. He has also exhausted all appeals regarding his status in South Africa and faces deportation. “Once the criminal proceedings are over, we shall deport him also,” said Motsoaledi. “[I am] mentioning these individuals by name because they are the ones who had promised fellow protesters a pie in the sky.” Motsoaledi said millions of foreign nationals have successfully integrated into South African communities. Motsoaledi said the offer of three months’ paid accommodation and food or a ticket to their country of origin was an extremely fair offer that South Africans don’t even benefit from.
He added that neither South Africa nor the UN could force any third party country to accept a refugee or asylum seeker seeking resettlement.