SA government out to punish foreigners – immigration expert
10 June, 09:45 AM
Is South Africa’s new, tighter immigration policy a sign of lurking government xenophobia? Immigration law expert Gary Eisenberg believes so. News 24
Is South Africa’s new, tighter immigration policy a sign of lurking government xenophobia? Immigration law expert Gary Eisenberg believes so. News 24
New visa rules: Why are we building barriers
Cape Town – The new South African immigration and visa rules, instituted by the department of home affairs at the end of May, has been the cause for heated debate amongst major tourism bodies.
Cape Town Tourism has confirmed it is working in conjunction with the City of Cape Town, WESGRO, Southern African Tourism Services Association (SATSA), Southern African Association for the Conference Industry (SAACI), Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa (FEDHASA) and various representatives from and on behalf of the tourism industry to meet with national department of tourism to “understand the full impact of the new procedures, in order to evaluate the impact and assess the necessary reaction plan”.
Cape Town Tourism CEO Enver Duminy says the new regulations “Pose a serious threat to tourism growth. Whilst many countries are doing their utmost to make travel user-friendly, we are building barriers. This does not bode well for our efforts to attract developing markets and it will certainly be a deterrent to those wanting to enjoy extended stays in Cape Town.”
Amongst the key issues affecting tourism are:
• The fact that in-destination visitors can only apply for a visa extension under new grounds (with the exception of life-saving emergency treatment) from their country of origin, essentially meaning that visitors wishing to extend their stay will find it prohibitive to do so.
• Parents travelling with children are expected to produce an unabridged birth certificate for travel – this is not the standard certificate supplied and must be applied for, a process that can take up to three months. A grace period has been introduced to phase in this procedure and now only takes effect in October.
• Visas processed in India and China must now be biometrically created. Since there are only two active biometric stations, would-be travellers must first travel to the city where the biometric system is housed – this may be at a significant distance from the travellers place of origin.
CTT has consulted with several stakeholders from the industry and has found that youth travel, the habitual holidays of European “swallow” travellers, socially conscious tourism such as voluntourism, family holidays, and business and conferencing tourism are all under significant threat. The new procedures also complicate access for the film and entertainment industry.
Duminy said the process was not phased in consultatively, highlighting the disinformation and confusion currently at play within the sector.
“We will certainly do all we can to better understand the issues and repercussions of these changes, and we will represent the interests of our members and the industry.”
According to Global Migration South Africa, the new visa procedures could put R1 billion in investment and 1 600 local jobs at risk.
Rob Kucera, FEDHASA Cape’s newly elected Chairperson, adds; “FEDHASA Cape is deeply concerned by reports on the amendments to the Immigrations Act.
We are concerned that we were not taken into confidence before the amendments were drafted and later approved. Consequently, this will have a negative business impact on tourism, which currently contributes more than R93 billion to the country’s GDP and over 610 000 direct jobs.”
Chris Whelan of Accelerate Cape Town concludes; “Migration policies must align with the economic realities and incentives of the main actors, i.e. the migrants themselves and their employer. To be at the forefront of this economy you need a world-class city and country that has a ready supply of intellectual capital. Companies in the knowledge economy need easy access to this talent. Our visa regime clearly needs to reflect this reality.”
SA govt stops processing permits for Zimbabweans
17 May 2014
The MDC-T SA has reacted with shock and horror to the directive by the South African Department of Home Affairs instructing its officials to stop processing any document related to the Zimbabwe Documentation Project.
The worst fears of millions of Zimbabweans living and working in the neighbouring country have been confirmed, says the party’s spokesperson Rogers Mudarikwa.
Under the documentation project Zimbabweans were issued with four-year renewable work permits.
“In meetings four years ago we sat with the then Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, now chair of the African Union, and her Director General Nkuseni. The minister promised to renew the work permits upon expiry. She dismissed our suspicions that this was an intelligence gathering exercise. Now, four years down the line, the South African government is singing a different tune,” said Mudarikwa.
“Home Affairs is no longer renewing the permits. The department is also not re-issuing new work permits for those who lost their passports containing valid work-permits. Those who got two years work permits on the basis of the ending life-span of their passports are not being issued the remaining two years – even after acquiring new passports. We wonder if we made a mistake to trust the government of South Africa,” he fumed.
Home Affairs officials in Johannesburg told MDC-T officials today that they were completely in the dark. The department is now saying Zimbabweans must apply for the renewal of their work-permits from Harare. The officials said the decision to stop the project was a complete u-turn to what was agreed on between the Minister and members of the stakeholders forum that resulted in the documentation project.
The project was initially shunned by Zimbabweans who suspected that the South African government was trying to flush them out. But when MDC-T officials in South Africa encouraged fellow Zimbabweans to participate in the project, more than 250,000 came out and applied for the four-year permits. Those with refugee statuses were coaxed into surrendering them in exchange for work permits.
“Zimbabweans feel deceived by the South African government. The ANC government is now running away from their signatures. It is ironic that such a revolutionary party whose leadership was kept comfortably in Zimbabwe during their liberation struggle could treat us like that. We have a strong suspicion that the current Minister of Home Affairs, Naledi Pandor, has little understanding of challenges faced by Africans. We urge the ANC government to be sensitive, compassionate and considerate. Such a decision by the government has the potential to fan xenophobic attacks,” says a statement from the MDC-T.
The party has urged all Zimbabweans to email or call senior officials in the Home Affairs department urging them to reconsider this decision: Mkuseli Apleni: Director General, 082 449 7535, (012)406 2501 email: Mkuseli.email@example.com OR Jackie Mckay,
Bulawayo24.com – by Staff reporter
No travel in and out of South Africa on proof of application of extension of South African Temporary Residence Permits whilst applications for extension pending
26. Feb. 2014 SA Migration / Home Affairs
Dear All, Received below/attached from Immigration regarding withdrawal of Directive No 43 of 2010. Under Immigration Directive No 43 of 2010 allowance was made for travelers to travel in and out of South Africa on the proof of application of the extension of South African Temporary Residence Permits whilst their applications for extension were pending. With the withdrawal of this Immigration Directive No 43 of 2010 this allowance has now been stopped with immediate effect. The implication is that all foreigners staying in South Africa who has expired permits, even though they might have an application for extension in their possession, will be in contravention of the Immigration Act
and liable for an administrative fine for overstaying their permit conditions. Likewise, a foreigner abroad, in possession of such an extension application will not be allowed into South Africa by Immigration unless in possession of a valid permit or visa which has not expired. Airlines should be vigilant at check in counter abroad in order to see if their is travelers with these documents and refer them to the South African Embassies abroad, and also await the outcome these application abroad. Airlines conveying these travelers to South Africa not adhering the entry requirements as now stated will be liable for an administrative fine.
ZIMBAS SA PERMIT FEARS ALLAYED
THE South African government has urged Zimbabweans who acquired permits through a 2009 special dispensation to renew the documents as they are about to expire.
Pretoria had indicated that it was tightening the permit system after Cabinet approved new measures, a signal that unsettled many Zimbabweans living in South Africa. But in an interview at the just-ended Zimbabwe International Trade Fair, South Africa’s ambassador to Zimbabwe Vusi Mavimbela said there was no reason to panic.
“The Zimbabwe Documentation Project was an experiment meant to save government money and also explore if business and the economy would improve in the process,” he said.
“So far, it has proven to be very successful and government is happy with the first phase of the programme.
“I can assure you that the programme will not only see permits being renewed, but will also be extended beyond those who got the first permits.”
Mavimbela said for one to be able to renew a permit, they should have a clean record and be able to provide proof of employment, study or business. “The plan is to give an extra year to those who already had permits, while new applicants will be thoroughly screened this time and required to satisfy some requirements that are still being set by government,” he said.
Mavimbela said some of the requirements were that people should prove that they were employed under the category of “critical skills” or have their employers come forward to vouch for them.He said new work and business permits would be valid for four years, in line with new government policy on migration, while study permits would be valid for the duration of the course.
Mavimbela said permit holders would be granted South African citizenship after five years. He said the special dispensation had created business opportunities for South Africans that Pretoria did not want to disrupt.
“Most South African business sectors, like insurance and banking, have, since the launch of the programme, designed programmes specifically targeting Zimbabweans and would not like to lose them,” he said.
“Talks are going on between the two governments on how to roll out the second phase in a manner that will benefit both countries.”
The Zimbabwe Documentation Project was launched in 2010 to give Zimbabwe nationals the opportunity to regularise their stay in South Africa by applying for work or study permits. The project offered an alternative to Zimbabweans trying to legalise their continued stay in South Africa, other than turning to the country’s chaotic and oversubscribed asylum system.
During the permit application period, a moratorium on deportations of undocumented Zimbabweans was in place. This moratorium was lifted when the deadline for applications ended. Only an estimated 230 000 Zimbabweans applied for permits, which is said to be a fraction of locals living in that country. Some estimate Zimbabweans living in South Africa, most of them illegally, at three million. newsday
NewsdzeZimbabwe at Tuesday, April 29, 2014
SA’s rigid immigration regime to undergo sweeping changes
Business Day : by Wyndham Hartley, 10 May 2013, 08:22
HOME Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor has promised sweeping changes to South Africa’s immigration regime to make it easier for foreign businesses and investors to come to the country and to improve competitiveness in the global skills market. The existing immigration situation is frequently criticised as being too restrictive, and in effect a disincentive to foreign businesses.
South Africa also suffers each year from a net loss of skills as qualified people emigrate to other countries.
Introducing her budget vote in an extended public committee of the National Assembly on Thursday, Ms Pandor said South Africa should provide clearer guidance about the numbers and skills needed, and “we want those with the right skills to come here: the investors and the entrepreneurs who will create the businesses and the jobs of tomorrow, and the scientists who will help keep South Africa at the heart of the great advances in medicine, biotech, advanced manufacturing and communications. They merit a permit policy that shows we are ready to compete with other countries for global talent.
“In regard to business, we’ve increased the opportunities for foreign investors and entrepreneurs — 1,346 visas were issued to entrepreneurs in 2011. We are on track to issue more than we did last year. We also plan to increase efficiency in issuing permits to investors in South Africa. Currently we issue waivers for employees of many multinational corporations. We have had many complaints about delays in issuing permits — we are addressing these concerns. I’m aware that some companies prefer to use staff from their overseas headquarters in their South African branches.
“Government has an obligation to promote job creation and skills development for South Africans. Our immigration system must help us to respond to this challenge while also welcoming investment.”
She said the target for attracting scarce skills had been 50,000 permits issued in 2011 but that only about 20,000 were issued and that the Immigration Advisory Board would look into this area again. “We are finalising the regulations for the 2011 Immigration Amendment Act.
“They will streamline the process of scientists applying for work permits. The Department of Science and Technology and the Department of Higher Education will assist us in reducing the bottlenecks being experienced in evaluating visa and permit requests for scientists and researchers.
“If we manage immigration competently, we can attract critical skills to expand the economy and promote trade and investment for job creation and development.
“We have to compete globally to attract the best and the brightest to work with us in building a better South Africa in a better Africa,” Ms Pandor said.
Deputy Home Affairs Minister Fatima Chohan reported to the House on a reduction in the numbers of asylum seekers entering the country.
“In our reception centres, our efforts have in large measure been focused on improving efficiencies in dealing with applications for asylum,” she said. “In this regard, we have been mindful that genuine asylum seekers were not best served by the prolonged periods that they had to endure while their matters were adjudicated.
“We implemented a fast-track system, first at the Durban refugee reception centre, and are doing likewise in Musina and Pretoria. Our preliminary findings indicate positive trends in that the number of asylum seeker applications has decreased quite dramatically, particularly at the Durban centre.
“We are pleased to announce an overall decrease in the number of asylum seekers who have come into our centres throughout the country. In 2010, we received a total of (185,918) applications for asylum. In 2011, this figure dropped to 87,020 applications and last year the figure reduced further to 85,058,” Ms Chohan said.
Good morning to all the ladies and gentlemen of the Media.
This is the first time we meet this year, so I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you a successful and prosperous 2013 although the year is getting rather old and I am sure you’ve been very active but let my good wishes go with that activity for this time
What we are hoping to do today is really to focus primarily on the matter of the unabridged birth certificate which we will now been issuing on the spot to all South Africans. As I indicated when we met last year, we are going to be implementing the new Citizenship Act, and as provisions and this one of more important activities associated with that new act.
One of our main functions as a department is to issue secure credible and accurate birth certificates and ID documents to all the people of South Africa. And many ofyou who know our history, know that for the majority in this country the issue of identity and particularly possession of official documents for communities that were oppressed was a particular neglect of the former apartheid state.
So, our creation of National Population Register and all the endeavours were put toward that, are designed to overcome this history, and ensure that every person in our country is secure in terms of their identity and has the appropriate documents that allow them to live a normal life as it exist in any society in the world.
We under took as part of this process of enhancing our national population register a review of Birth and Death Act of 1992 as well as the Citizenship Act of 1995. And this process of review culminated in the amended South African Citizenship Act of 2010. We are now to a point where we are ready to implement the amendments.
And I am pleased to announce and ask you to help me in announcing to the people of South Africa, that from the 4th of March 2013, the Department of home affairs will end the practice of issuing abridged birth certificate and will only issue unabridged birth certificates to parents of new born babies.
Now, in some countries, they speak of abridged birth certificate and an unabridged one is called a full birth certificate. We call it unabridged in South Africa, andessentially what that means is unabridged birth certificate contains the details of the child, mother, father and their identity numbers. This is the new practice that we will be putting in place.
The current abridged that is the short form birth certificate suffers from the following failures and defects in terms of what we are seeking to achieve. It is easy to reproduce illegally, you can copy it fairly easily, it contains only the name and IDnumbers of the new born baby and the mother, doesn’t have the other parent recorded on the certificate and of course it increased the creation of additional paper records when we are trying to move as a department to a paperless department, we are trying to use technology more and more appropriately. Trying to reduce the number of papers persons have. So, we don’t want people to have the abridged birth certificate, then when they wish to insert the father’s details they come back to get the unabridged birth certificate then they have two certificates difficult to find we have loads of records far too much paper so we are trying to create this new paperless environment.
We also use to take rather long to issue this certificate and we now want to move to a speedier process. So with the new certificate, the unabridged which will be issued on the spot, we will be ensuring that we improve our turnaround times and that we ensure speedy efficient and accurate service delivery. Something we really striving to achieve as the department.
We will of course issue the certificates at no cost to the parents. It will be more secure and reliable with added security features and information. It will contain particulars of both parents as well as their identity numbers. It will support our efforts to create a paperless Home Affairs, since only one document will be issued per birth.
The previous certificates meant we have parents coming back to Home Affairs in order to get unabridged birth certificate as I said, and what would happen it will a long queues and then again it was just a difficulty and an irritation for our clients.
It will also help us to have a more secure national population register because of the security improvements we are then more confident that actually we are not going to get persons registering person not born in South Africa altering the certificates and data on it.
We are able to move to this new process of unabridged birth certificates as result of our current IT modernisation project which is aimed at enhancing service delivery levels, through the modernisation of our systems.
I really want to move us to a digital environment as a department, because I think the advent of a fully modern technology based ,department will assist the department of Home Affairs improving a great deal of its service delivery achievements and putting us in a top rank of departments that use technology effectively .
We hope that in the next weeks, you will agree to work with us as partners in order to support us along with our stakeholder forums and our officials throughout the country in embarking on a public awareness campaign, to inform and educate everyone about this new unabridged birth certificate. We would like you to put out there this information, and this is why we’ve called you and those of you who write a really good story will work with you on a media campaign.
(Demonstration of certificate)
Then, we will have a certificate with information of one of the parents if it is the choice of some parents that they don’t wish to have the names say of the father or some other details. It will also have much more information than we have on the current birth certificate.
Then you may have a case of orphans who may not have parent records availableand who are now adopted by the new set of parent or guardian, this form will be used for them. So this will be the look of the certificates that will form part of the media campaign that we are going to initiate in the next few weeks leading up to the 4th of March.
We would like all South Africans to be aware of these changes, our stake holder forum and all the communities in which we have them will be running an advocacy campaign on our behalf. We will utilise the media as well, in order to assist us so that it is not a surprise to any person that may have this changes.
Thank you very much.