Browsing "Citizenship"

Home Affairs Gets Tough on Foreign Business Owners

Home Affairs Gets Tough on Foreign Business Owners
By Oliver Ngwenya | 2014-07-17 –
The department of Home Affairs is sending out strong signals to all sectors of the economy and society. On Wednesday, media reports indicated that the department would deny visas to companies that wished to start unscrupulous businesses.
According to the City Press, foreigners who wished to start businesses in South Africa that involved importing used cars, strip clubs, or those that wished to set up security companies would from this point onwards be denied visas to enable them to operate their businesses. It was added that these business persons would be barred from bringing into the country workers in the category of strippers, hotel workers, restaurant staff, hairdressers and beauticians using corporate visas, according to a notice in the government gazette on Wednesday.
The department reportedly released lists of what it called ‘undesirable business undertakings’. This is a new term that refers to businesses that cannot be issued with business or corporate visas from the department. The department went on to explain the difference between business and corporate visas by saying that business visas are issued to investors that wish to set up business in the country while, on the other hand, corporate visas are those that are issued to companies that intend to hire a considerable number of foreign workers.
According the department of home affairs, there are four categories of companies for which corporate visas will be denied. These are “exotic entertainment”, the hospitality industry, fast-food outlets and franchises, as well as the cosmetic and beauty industries. The list of undesirable businesses that business visas will be issued for has three entries.
They are the “import of second-hand motor vehicles for the purpose of exporting to other markets”, exotic entertainment and the security industry. This relates to the recent private security industry regulation amendment bill which prohibits foreigners from owning large chunks in private security companies.
There is, admittedly still one sticking point and that is, the department of trade and commerce which compiled the lists above still needed to reset the amount that a foreigner needed to prove they had in resources in order to qualify for a business visa. This amount used to be two and half million rand


Don’t drive away the people South Africa needs

Don’t drive away the people South Africa needs
At the end of May, the Department of Home Affairs gazetted new regulations that make it considerably harder for citizens of other countries to enter South Africa.
The new regulations distinguish between short-stay visas and long-stay permits. One of the most significant changes is that visa applications or extensions can now only be made at missions abroad where details are biometrically captured and visas collected in person. Anyone traveling with a minor will also now need to be in possession of the child’s unabridged birth certificate and, in some cases, affidavits by missing parents as well as translations of birth certificates issued in other languages.

At first glance, the reasoning behind these regulations sounds fair: strengthen our border management, curb illegal immigration and prevent human trafficking.

But make no mistake – these regulations will do none of these things. They are poorly conceived, prematurely implemented and will have a profoundly negative impact on jobs and our economy.

Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba will tell you the regulations are there to protect us. He’ll also say they’re no worse than the hoops we South Africans have to jump through when traveling to many other destinations.

Of course all countries have a duty to protect their borders. All countries also have the right to attract tourism, investment and talent while controlling the influx of unskilled immigrants. But if proper systems to balance these complex requirements are not in place, all you will do is effectively kill the goose that lays the golden eggs of tourism, investment and jobs.

President Jacob Zuma has repeatedly committed his government to implementing the National Development Plan (NDP). What he and his government do not seem to grasp, is that policy choices must be made on the basis of whether they will promote or undermine the NDP.

The NDP emphasises the importance of tourism to growth and job creation. The sector currently employs 600 000 people and contributes over 3% to our GDP. According to the NDP, tourism should be able to create in the region of 225 000 additional jobs by 2020 while contributing, directly and indirectly, around R500 billion to our GDP. That could be an enormous contribution to our primary goal of poverty reduction.

We believe this is achievable, but not if we keep on placing more hurdles in front of the people whose business we desperately need.

Judging by backlogs and turnaround time, our systems at Home Affairs are certainly not in place to handle the current (let alone an extra) level of administrative complexity. But it’s abroad, at our foreign missions where the visas are processed, where the real problem lies.

Consider a country the size of China, where we spend a huge amount of time and money marketing ourselves as a tourist and business destination. There, would-be tourists and investors only have the options of Shanghai or Beijing to apply for visas and have their details captured. It’s clear why this system is disastrous for our prospects of increasing Chinese tourism. Reports already indicate that Chinese operators have stopped promoting South Africa and are sending their clients elsewhere in Africa. We should be making it easier – the countries competing with us for tourist dollars certainly are – and yet we make it harder.

Here’s another fact: according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), in- and outbound travel in South Africa was worth R24 billion last year. A quarter of this came from people travelling with children. And now we want to make life more difficult for these travellers through regulations that far exceed global standards. No one denies that child trafficking needs to be stopped, but making it near impossible to travel here with children cannot be the solution.

Many recent news reports have focused on how the new regulations have already started tearing families apart. Spouses, and even young children, have been declared “undesirable” for overstaying their visas, and then denied re-entry into the country. These are people who are waiting for Home Affairs to process their applications and are now turned into criminals by this clumsy and ill-conceived legislation.

Before we even consider tourism and investment numbers, these regulations have an even more immediate and direct impact on jobs. Home Affairs has now outsourced the processing of visa applications to UK-based company, VSF Global, which could have dire consequences for many local immigration practitioners. It is estimated that there are currently between 400 and 500 immigration practitioners in South Africa, and that each of them employs, on average, 6 to 8 people including couriers and messengers. That’s thousands of jobs we can ill afford to lose.

Government will argue that they need the biometric system to operate from one place, but there is no reason why this could not be replicated across the existing practitioners. In fact, government should have doubled the number of local companies, thereby doubling the jobs and the efficiency of the service.

On top of this, VSF Global will also charge a R1350 handling fee per visa application in addition to the cost of the visa. So not only is it now difficult to obtain a visa, it’s also very expensive.

The fact is immigration is a complex issue wherever you go in the world.

In an ideal universe, we would enjoy an “Open, Opportunity World for All” – a world in which everyone is free to move around as they choose with no restrictions. But our world doesn’t work that way. It is still based on the concept of the nation state, of which there are about 196 today. International law respects national sovereignty (comprising territory, population, authority and recognition). Countries are governed by profoundly differing ideologies, policies, tax collection and budgetary allocation systems, as well as accountability mechanisms. People’s birthplace and citizenship shape their destiny in countless ways, and it is understandable that many are desperate to escape the countries of their birth.

Like all decent and compassionate people, we accept our “responsibility to protect” people whose lives are at risk. And we know that mechanisms are required to distinguish between genuine “asylum seekers” and people who would merely prefer to live somewhere else.

At this stage of human evolution, democratic countries play by these rules. They have to attract skilled people, tourists and investors in order to grow their economies and create jobs. But at the same time they must be wary of the enormous strain that uncontrolled immigration of unskilled people places on state resources. South Africa is no different. We cannot carry the consequences of all our continent’s problems.

The stark fact is that South Africa has 6 million registered personal taxpayers and 16 million grant recipients. This is an unsustainable ratio. We simply have to extend our tax base through investment, economic growth and job creation. Otherwise our social safety net will soon be unaffordable. And our social infrastructure (such as schools and hospitals) will be stretched to breaking point. Contestation for scarce resources, including healthcare and jobs, are some of the underlying causes of what is sometimes described as xenophobia.

So this is our dilemma: on the one hand we have an outcry over these new regulations that threaten to cripple our tourism industry and drive away investors. But on the other hand we face a seemingly uncontrolled influx of unskilled and illegal immigrants. This includes criminal syndicates, usually involved in poaching or drug dealing. How can we take effective action against those who circumvent the law, without punishing those who wish to be law-abiding?

Instead of chasing skilled people away, we should focus our resources on shoring up our porous borders. Due partly to gross inefficiency of our border police, we are facing a huge influx of illegal immigrants. Tightening our borders and empowering Home Affairs’ Immigration Inspectorate should be our first port of call.

Part of the problem is that we have no clear idea of how many non-citizens are living in South Africa. Home Affairs admitted last year that they didn’t know. In 2009, the South African Police Service said there could be as many as 6 million illegal immigrants in the country. We spend more than R90 million a year on sending illegal immigrants back to their countries. This money would be far better spent on functional “prevention” than rectification.

Minister Gigaba’s new regulations will fix none of the problems. They will just cost us jobs and income, and they will undo years of hard work in marketing South Africa as a tourist and business destination.

Given the importance the NDP places on growing tourism and attracting investment, it is staggering that we choose to do the opposite through these new regulations, without solving the immigration-related problems we do have.

Minister Gigaba speaks of how happy he is with the “robustness of debate” around the issue. He also admits that there are challenges and that the regulations aren’t perfect.

We all understand the euphemisms, Minister. So why not just admit that you need to listen to the criticism and return to the drawing board?

Helen Zille

Representation of Overstay Disagree

08 July 2014, 13:27

Representation of Overstay Disagree

Jovan Velanac and Uros Velanac, who are stay in Johannesburg with their parents, where declared as undesirable persons on July 02,2014  when they were leaving the country on their way to Republic Of Serbia.

They have signed Declaration of foreigner as undesirable persons, overstayed by 53 days. (Children are 16 years old).

We collected all the required documents for submitting an application for temporary residence, extension of work permit (visa) ,and Home Affairs accepted April,10 2014  for  Dara Velanac (mother) and children to be accompany to her.

As we knew that parents (children) extended residence permit would already expire on the May,10 2014, we asked at the Home Affairs Office in Randburg, as well as the Office in Pretoria (phone call).

We asked,would children still be able to leave the country and return to the South Africa  in the meantime or if they have to remain in South Africa and wait for the outcome application, which are still pending.

Advice, we (parents) received from the spokesperson of Department of Home Affairs, that travel out and in South Africa is legal with Acknowledge of Receipt, because for the “people who applied (their mother) before the new law came into operation ,application still stand ,and will not be subject to the new rules ,means the new law does not apply retrospectively.”

Children were invited by Serbian community in collaboration with the Serbian Orthodox Church St. Toma, The Serbian Embassy (Pretoria) and Serbian school St. Sava in Johannesburg to represent South Africa in Traditional Dance (together with 15 boys and girls) and visit Republic of Serbia from July,02   until   July,20  2014.

On July 02 ,2014 children  checked in at Tambo International Airport  to visit Republic of Serbia, and presented their passport t.

Immigration Officer informed children and guardian that the regulations had changed on and that children would now be banned from the RSA without parents knowledge  ,and given document to children to sign (they are 16 years old).

The following list has the purpose of showing you good causes why children should not be banned and not to be an undesirable persons to the RSA.

1) Throughout all family entire applications process we have follow all instructions from the Department of Home Affairs. (include last 6 years)

2)We submitted all applications in time ,and Sinisa Velanac (father) have valid work permit ref. No JHB 14522/2013/TRV  issued at Head Office on July,29  2013.

3)  Home Affairs in Randburg and in Pretoria advise children’s parents still be able to leave the country and return to the South Africa , while still waiting for the outcome of applications.

4) It is contradictory to stay in the country even without a valid permit-visa and then punish children for overstaying parents permit- visa and wait for the outcome application, which are still pending 3 months period .

5) Never in South Africa, not in any other country our family – CHILDREN ever committed any crime or acted in contradiction to the law.

6) Children attending school King Edwards VII,Houghton,11 class and also finished primary school Pridwin, in Melrose, Johannesburg.

7) Parents and are not advised and contents of this notice didn’t interpreted to guardian to understand explanation that children found declared undesirable of the fallowing overstayed not be able to come back at home in South Africa

8) Declaration of foreigner as undesirable person is signed by the children who are 16 years old, without any other signed document from guardian and parents.

9) Children suppose not to be deported back to origin of country-Serbia, because they are minors (16 years old),without parents or guardian permission and have no one to welcome them and give them safety and accommodation. Their parents and home is here, in South Africa.


We are  confident  that the above mentioned will convince you that children cannot be considered as an undesirable persons and therefore should not be prohibited from re-entering the country.

We are looking forward to a positive outcome of this appeal and remain with our

Sincere regards,

Family  ,SinisaVelanac (father)                 Dara Velanac (mother)

Gigaba: State to avoid bad immigration impact

Gigaba: State to avoid bad immigration impact
July 4 2014 at 01:25pm

Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba. Picture: Sarah Makoe.
Johannesburg – Discussion on the new immigration regulations will continue and problems will be tested to prevent negative impacts on the economy, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said on Friday.
“Our doors are not closed. We are open to further engagement on the consequences. You can never introduce new regulations that are perfect and will work,” he said at The New Age’s televised breakfast briefing in Midrand.
“You have to expect that there would be challenges and we are open to testing those on the ground if there is a need to change anything. We are open to continuous engagement with the different parties… because we wouldn’t want these regulations to have a negative impact on tourism and other elements of our economic growth and development.”
The regulations, which came into effect in May, introduce a new visa regime for South Africa.
It outlines a clear distinction between short-stay visas and long-stay permanent residence permits.
It also stipulates that visa applications need to be made by applicants in person, and those wanting to change the status of their visa can no longer do so in South Africa but have to do so at missions abroad.
Gigaba said officials in foreign missions were being trained on the implementation of the legislation.
“We are moving into a new era of immigration management… It imposes on us to be proactive and it will bring many positive processes to our country. One of the issues is how to manage national security,” he said.
Gigaba said he understood the problems businesses were facing with regard to the implementation of the new regulations.
“We will test existing legislation with the policy framework we are going to bring about. It is at an advanced stage.”
He said he was pleased with the reaction to the new legislation as it showed that people were participating in the process.
“I’m very happy about the public discourse around the new legislation because it says that South Africans, not only academics and practitioners are being involved in the process, but ordinary South Africans are being drawn in.
“The reaction we got was that some people have rejected it completely without considering that there are positives, and sometimes people reject the legislation when the real issue is about the implementation, and so the regulations themselves don’t pose a problem.”
Gigaba’s department would also appeal a court case it lost last month in the Western Cape High Court in favour of two people separated from their spouses because of immigration laws.
“We are appealing it because we believe we are correct in our approach,” he told delegates at the briefing.
According to the SABC on June 30, Brent Johnson and Cherene Delorie took the department to court to challenge what they called “unconstitutional legislation” governing visa applications.
Their foreign partners were branded undesirable and barred entry into South Africa.
Home affairs said this was after they failed to follow due process when renewing their visas earlier in 2014.
Judge James Yekiso ruled that the status of undesirability over Johnson’s wife and son who are in Denmark, and Delorie’s husband who is in Zimbabwe, be suspended and they be allowed to return to South Africa.
The briefing was screened on SABC2. – Sapa


GroundUp: ‘Incomprehensible’ that Home Affairs declared 5-year-old undesirable

GroundUp: ‘Incomprehensible’ that Home Affairs declared 5-year-old undesirable
• GroundUp maverick,

A recent wave of litigation against Home Affairs following the unheralded implementation of new immigration regulations on 26 May 2014 continued on Friday in Western Cape High Court. By Katy Osborn for GROUNDUP.
This time, immigration attorney Craig Smith represented the five-year-old daughter of South African permanent residents Robert and Lindy Steele. Home Affairs declared the Steele’s daughter “undesirable” on her way out of the country on 24 June 2014 as she was travelling with her family to Turkey.
Friday’s presiding judge, Justice Gamble, called the declaration “incomprehensible”. Gamble said, “It’s one thing for an exotic dancer to be caught up like this, but it’s another thing for a five-year-old.”
Though short-term relief by the court allowed the Steeles to successfully return to Johannesburg last night, the long-term status of their daughter remains to be seen. Part B of their court application argues that the new immigration regulations are unconstitutional and asks that the young Steele’s status of undesirability be revoked. This is scheduled to appear before the High Court on or around 26 August 2014.
The outcome will be one with widespread implications. Under Regulation 27 of the new immigration laws, thousands of other visa overstayers face being declared “undesirable” and having their rights to re-enter South Africa in case of departure suspended. Particularly in combination with the fresh stipulation that new visas must be applied for from one’s home country, these laws are quickly rendering legal recourse the only—albeit often unaffordable—option for many. Smith told GroundUp that the Steeles’ application will probably be consolidated with countless others across the country.
Friday’s court appearance follows Judge James Yekiso’s landmark ruling in favour of Brent Johnson and Cherene Delorie on 1 July in the Western Cape High Court. Yekiso ruled that Johnson and Delorie, both South African citizens whose foreign spouses had been declared “undesirable” and barred from re-entering South Africa after overstaying their visas, were not a threat to national security and had “plainly suffered prejudice”.
Delorie’s husband, Zimbabwean citizen David Henderson, and Johnson’s Danish wife Louise Henriksen Egedal-Johnson, were, like Steele, granted short-term relief and allowed to rejoin their families in South Africa.
“These laws are affecting the wrong people,” Smith said of both cases, arguing that Home Affairs’ energy would be better concentrated on border posts. Home Affairs has responded by calling the applications “premature,” arguing that they “did not allow internal processes to take their natural course.”
“We ask only for the opportunity to respond reasonably,” said Home Affairs’ legal representative in the Johnson case. But over 1,000 immigrants filed an urgent application to the Western Cape High Court last week, insisting that their permit applications be processed. At a business briefing hosted by The New Age and Transnet on Friday, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said that his department had plans to appeal the Johnson ruling.
Though frustrated by the prospect of “another case where we have to seek relief from the court rather than internal relief,” Smith urges others affected by the new immigration laws to “be vigilant and persevere”.
“Had the department properly applied its mind when making these new laws or considering these applications,” he said, “this could all have been avoided.” DM


SA adopts stateless baby

The Times – Nomahlubi Jordaan | 08 July, 2014 00:01


After a six-year legal battle, a girl born in South Africa to Cuban parents has a country she can call home.

Yesterday, the girl’s mother said she was able to sleep again after the Pretoria High Court last week ruled that her daughter was a South African citizen, and that the Department of Home Affairs had acted unlawfully by not registering her as such.

The Cape Town family – with the help of nonprofit organisation Lawyers for Human Rights – went to court after both South Africa and Cuba refused the child citizenship.

In 2008, when the child was born in Cape Town, the Department of Home Affairs issued a birth certificate but not an identity number because her parents did not have permanent residency at the time.

Cuba also refused to recognise the child because her parents had been absent from their home country for more than 11 months.

Without an identity number, the parents could not obtain a passport on which the girl could travel to meet her family in Cuba, and her parents could not look for jobs in other countries unless they left her in South Africa.

“We were stuck here in South Africa,” the child’s mother said. “I lost several job opportunities overseas. Her father lost a job opportunity in Brazil.”

The lack of an ID also made the child vulnerable.

“I was not able to prove who my daughter was without a DNA test,” the mother said.

In its ruling, the court ordered the Department of Home Affairs to enter the girl’s name in the national population register, issue her with a South African identity document and re-issue her birth certificate with an identity number.

The court further ordered that a regulation be made under the SA Citizenship Act to ensure that other families do not have to go through a similar nightmare.

Lawyers for Human Rights argued that the department was violating the child’s constitutional right to “a name and nationality from birth”.

“The violation of her rights will only increase as she becomes older and tries to write her matric, apply to university, open a bank account and access a range of other social services and rights,” the organisation said in a letter to the department.

In its reply, the department said the child qualified to be issued with a permit for permanent residence, but the parents were demanding that she receive citizenship.

The department opposed the court application but failed to file an opposing affidavit.

The girl’s mother said she was relieved that her child had a home.

“I feel that justice has been done at last; no child should be exposed to the condition of being stateless. It goes against human rights.

“My child, like anyone else, has the right to citizenship at birth, to have a homeland.”

New immigration laws should enhance, not hamper travel

New immigration laws should enhance, not hamper travel

Pretoria – The Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) has raised its concern that new immigration laws will hamper travel and tourism, rather than enhance it.

The Council responded to the recent announcement by the Department of Home Affairs on the amendments to the Immigrations Act in a press release, saying that some of the new regulations pose a significant threat to the sustainability of the local travel trade.

“We acknowledge, at the outset, the prerogative and duty of the Department of Home Affairs to protect our boarders and to tackle issues around trafficking of people especially, children,” said TBCSA Chief Executive Officer, Mmatsatsii Ramawela.

She added that their concern lies with two specific regulations, namely the new requirement for an unabridged birth certificate for minors, and the provision for in-person collection of biometric data.

Ramawela pointed out that these will have a significant detrimental impact on tourism, not only to South Africa, but also to the neighbouring countries whose tourism activities are closely linked to South Africa.

As a signatory to the Tourism Child Protection Code, a programme facilitated locally by Fair Trade Tourism, she said that the travel and tourism trade appreciated government taking a tough stance against the commercial sexual exploitation of children, but felt that greater engagement was key to find a workable solution.

David Frost, Chief Executive Officer of the Southern Africa Tourism Services Associations (SATSA) said in the wake of the announcement his office has been inundated with letters of concern from tour operators all over the world.

“The requirement of carrying an original unabridged birth certificate, or a certified copy thereof, as well as a sworn translation if needed, acts as an additional hurdle that damages our competitiveness as a destination. It creates a barrier to entry with financial and/or opportunity cost that a prospective tourist needs to overcome in order to travel to South Africa”.

“There is wide spread confusion on exactly what is actually required” said Frost.

“For example, in the event of a single parent who does not have contact with the other biological parent, an affidavit is required. But what information should this contain? Furthermore, foreign language birth certificates will have to be translated. All of this adds a time and a cost component that a potential traveller will now factor into his/her selection of a tourism destination, in addition to an added level of uncertainty”.

This concern is echoed by the World Travel Agents Associations Alliance (WTAAA), the European Travel Agents’ and Tour Operators’ Associations (ECIAA).

The Board of Airline Representatives of Southern Africa (BARSA) has also expressed concern at the potential impact of the regulation.

It estimates that up to 20% of air travel to South Africa involve families with children and may therefore be impacted.

This will not only have a direct economic impact but will permeate the indirect impact tourism has on the broader economy.

The second area of concern relates to the move to biometric visas that requires ‘in-person’ applications and the fact that data gathering points are currently only available in limited centres in certain countries that cover vast geographic areas.

Ramawela said whilst the industry welcomed the Minister of Tourism’s recent statement on this matter, she hoped further dialogue between the two ministries and the trade will yield positive results.