Browsing "Citizenship"

How the Guptas tore through red tape to hire Indian nationals illegally

How the Guptas tore through red tape to hire Indian nationals illegally
News24 – 19 September 2018
Gupta agents Ashu Chawla and Naresh Khosla fraudulently orchestrated South African work permits for Indian nationals by falsifying and backdating the Indian employment contracts on which these permits hinge.
An administrative sleight of hand allowed the Guptas to import and employ foreign labour at the expense of local jobseekers, and conveniently sidestepped the onerous legal red tape meant to protect South African workers from being overlooked in favour of foreign employees.
Chawla was a key Gupta lieutenant and director of the now-bust Sahara Computers (Pty) Ltd (Sahara Computers), as well as its counterpart in India, Sahara Computer and Electronics Ltd (SCEL).
Khosla was Chawla’s co-director on SES Technologies, another Indian company belonging to the Guptas. The #GuptaLeaks show how the pair abused their positions as directors to sign off on the dodgy contracts.
Home Affairs
As Parliament’s Home Affairs committee last week heard officials explain the intricacies of the Gupta family’s dubious early nationalisation, it also emerged that scores of their non-South African employees were working locally using “intra-company transfer visas”.
Department of Home Affairs Director-General of Immigration Jackson McKay told committee members in his written answers that none of the foreign employees employed by ANN7, or any other Gupta company, was working in South Africa using visitor or tourist visas.
Instead, these Indian nationals were issued with “intra-company transfer” permits. McKay told the committee that an earlier raid on the Gupta-owned television station found 31 Indian nationals working for ANN7 under such permits. A further nine were in South Africa using visitor’s permits, but only to attend meetings.
This means at least 40 foreign employees were working at ANN7 alone.
In March 2018, former ANN7 editor and Gupta-employee-turned-whistle-blower Rajesh Sundaram published his book, Indentured: Behind the Scenes at Gupta TV. In it, he tells of his turbulent months working for the Gupta family as they tried to get the fledgling television news station off the ground. He also directly implicates Chawla in circumventing visa requirements.
“I had heard his [Chawla’s] name mentioned for the first time when I was asked to apply for my temporary residence permit under the intra-company transfer process before I left India for South Africa,” Sundaram wrote.
Sundaram tells how an Indian executive of one of the main shareholders of Infinity Media, ANN7’s holding company, lamented about the difficulties in obtaining a work visa for foreigners in South Africa.
“It can take months to get a South African work permit. It is a cumbersome process. We have to advertise the position in South African newspapers and then wait for six months, after which we provide evidence that we have not found a suitable local candidate. Only then can we start the process of getting a work permit. Even so, if there is an official who does not agree, the request for a work permit can still be rejected.”
But they had a plan.
“But Ashu-ji [Chawla] is a genius, and he has found a way around it. We will show the visas of people going to work in South Africa as intra-company transfer. Just fill in the visa form, get police and medical clearance and get back to my office. My office will issue papers certifying that you are an employee of Essel Media [the shareholder in Infinity Media] being transferred to South Africa.”
Later in the book, Sundaram asked the same Indian executive a question that hinted at how the operation worked:
“But all the people I have recruited to be the core team to launch ANN7 have got contracts from Infinity Media [in South Africa] and not Essel Media [in India]. They have never worked for Essel Media. I hope this is not illegal?”
Legal Hoops
The Immigration Act of 2002 and its regulations require a South African business seeking to employ a foreign national to first jump through a plethora of legal hoops before the foreign employee can take up work in a local business.
Björn van Niekerk, operations director for Intergate Immigration, told News24 that a local employer needs to consider South African applicants for the position first.
“An employer intending to employ a foreigner is required to confirm that they have first made a reasonable effort to find, interview and consider South African applicants for the position that is required to be filled. The employer must confirm that:
• they have conducted a diligent search for a suitable South African candidate;
• they were unable to find a suitable South African with the relevant skills, experience etc.
“The lengths to which the employer went to advertise the position nationally, how many South Africans were interviewed, and why the South African candidates interviewed were not considered would all be taken into account.
“These efforts are then assessed by the Department of Labour which will offer a recommendation based on whether they consider the need for a foreigner to be employed, over any potential South African, to be justified. The applicant also needs to have their qualifications assessed and evaluated by SAQA.”
These requirements are meant to protect South African job seekers, and to prevent employers from simply shipping in cheap labour from overseas to do the jobs local citizens can perform.
But the Gupta family found a way to circumvent these requirements.
Intra-company transfers
By claiming that these employees were “inter-company transfer visa” instead of “general work visa” applications, Chawla and his Sahara Computers only needed to show that these employees had been in the service of one of their Indian sister companies for a period of at least six months.
They did this by falsifying and backdating the Indian employment contracts struck with these workers.
The fraud was trivialised because Chawla was also the director of the Indian companies creating the forged records, as well as the South African Sahara Computers that employed them locally. The same occurred between Essel Media and Infinity Media, where the directors of the two companies arranged employment contracts for ANN7 staff from India.
Karan Singh
The documents and emails contained in the #GuptaLeaks shed some light on the logistics of the scheme. Between 15 October and 15 December, 2014, the 22-year-old Karan Singh visited South Africa from his home country of India on the invitation of Sahara Computers and Chawla. He was later joined by his parents and sister. Sunil, Sunita and Vidushi Yadav were also invited by Sahara Computers on tourist visas from 4 to 10 December, 2014.
The invitation letter to Singh’s parents claimed that Singh was an intern at Sahara Computers. This is despite a tourist visa prohibiting a foreigner from being employed in the country while issued with such a visa.
During his time in South Africa, Singh also met with Jitendra Tiwari, the human resources professional for Sahara Computers. Tiwari was responsible for the majority of the employment agreements between the foreign employees and Sahara, and the #GuptaLeaks show he was involved with most of the visa applications contained therein. Flight bookings contained in the #GuptaLeaks show that Tiwari accompanied Singh and his family on a flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town and back between 8 and 10 December, 2014.
On 16 December, 2014, the day after their return to India, Chawla forwarded Singh’s passport to Tiwari, who responded with a draft employment contract between Singh and the South African Sahara Computers, appointing Singh as a “Project Manager” from 12 January, 2015.
Shortly afterwards, Chawla sent an email to Naresh Khosla, a fellow director at SES Technologies in India, containing Singh’s passport.
“Please send me an appointment letter in SES for about 8 months before as a project Manager and I am doing inter company Transfer for him.”
Khosla responded within hours, attaching a backdated letter stating that Singh was appointed as a project manager at SES Technologies. SES Technologies is an Indian company of which Chawla and Khosla were co-directors.
Although the letter was backdated to 16 May, 2014, the pair made a mistake. Singh’s commencement date with SES Technologies would only be on 21 July, 2014, an error that was picked up on by the South African consulate. They refused Singh his visa on the basis that he had not been employed with SES Technologies for long enough, and on 11 January, 2015, Singh wrote to Chawla:
“I will submit [my visa application] tomorrow. They had rejected the application before because the letter [you] had send earlier had date of joining as 21 July 2014, so [they rejected] it as it was not completing 6 months. Will submit it again tomorrow attaching the letter u had again sent me showing 21 May 2014 as the joining date for 6 months in India. Hope the embassy will not complain for the change in date.” (sic)
The consulate didn’t complain, and Singh obtained his visa. He landed at OR Tambo International Airport on 8 February, 2015. Two days later – on 10 February, 2015 – Singh sent Chawla an email containing a scan of his passport and work permit, proudly displaying the words “intra-company transfer permit”.
Esheetaa Gupta
A second example originated late in March of 2014. Chawla received an email from Sanjeev Gupta, enclosing his daughter Esheetaa’s CV and payslip for April 2014. Sanjeev Gupta, while unrelated to brothers Tony, Atul and Ajay, was closely connected with the Bank of Baroda’s chief executive officer in South Africa, Murari Lal Sharma. So close, in fact, that Esheetaa Gupta’s CV used Sharma’s mobile number as her South African contact number.
Esheetaa Gupta, an intellectual property lawyer working for a WIPRO Technologies in India, was seemingly keen to secure work in South Africa.
On 4 April, 2014, Chawla forwarded Esheetaa Gupta’s passport, CV and payslip to his secretary. Later that same day, she scanned and forwarded a bundle of documents signed by Chawla.
Among these was an employment agreement between Sahara Computers and Esheetaa Gupta, confirming she would be appointed as an “IP Analyst” from 15 May, 2014. It contained a letter from Sahara Computers to the South African consulate, stating the following:
“This letter serves to confirm that Ms Esheetaa Gupta will be transferred from SES Technologies to Sahara Computers (Pty) Ltd for a period of 24 months. This transfer qualifies as an intra-company transfer since these companies form part of the same global group. Esheetaa Gupta holds a foreign contract of employment with SES Technologies in India.”
It also contained a letter dated 4 April, 2014, to the South African consulate (erroneously referred to as an “embassy”) from SES Technologies, the same company used to fabricate the employment contract for Singh. The letter from SES Technologies was also signed by Chawla and contained an exact copy of the paragraph confirming that Esheetaa Gupta was employed by SES Technologies.
These documents were sent to Esheetaa Gupta’s father on the same day. Esheetaa Gupta responded to Chawla on 8 May, 2014, requesting additional documents, and in particular she required a “job offer letter from Indian company provided earlier at the time of employment”.
A comedy of errors and mistakes followed, as Chawla and his secretary compiled the documents requested by Esheetaa Gupta.
The pair could not keep their story straight. Suddenly, the employment confirmation letters and backdated employment offer, previously done on the SES Technologies letterhead, resurfaced sporting SCEL letterheads, Sahara Computer’s sister company in India.
The initial set of documents also claimed that Esheetaa Gupta had started working for SCEL as an IP analyst in 2010, a peculiar oddity considering that her CV claimed that she only began working in the intellectual property field a full year and a half later, in June of 2011. Her CV stated that at the time, she was employed as a project trainee at Nucleus Software Exports Limited.
The final backdated employment offer sent to Esheetaa Gupta had a more reasonable commencement date of 27 June, 2013, although this still does not explain why Esheetaa Gupta’s CV sent to Chawla in April 2014 does not mention either SES Technologies or SCEL in either her employment history or references.
It also does not explain how she obtained a payslip for April 2014 as an employee of WIPRO Technologies, if she was an employee of either SCEL or SES Technologies at the time.
Comment requested
Both Esheetaa Gupta and Karan Singh were sent detailed questions regarding these allegations. Both were asked to confirm their employment history with either SES Technologies or SCEL, and the reasons for the subsequent intra-company transfers.
Despite follow-up attempts, neither Singh nor Gupta have responded to our requests for comment.
Khosla was also requested to provide comment on the evidence contained in the #GuptaLeaks but did not respond to our questions.

Malusi Gigaba reveals relaxed visa rules

25 September 2018 – Sowetan Live
The requirements for foreign minors travelling to South Africa are to be simplified‚ home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba said at a media briefing on Tuesday.
An international travel advisory to this end will be issued by the end of October after consultation with the Immigration Advisory Board.
Cumbersome visa application processes have had a negative effect on tourism and cabinet has decided that they be amended as part of the economic stimulus package announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
“The key changes will be that‚ rather than requiring all foreign national travelling minors to carry documentation proving parental consent for the travelling minor to travel‚ we will rather strongly recommend that travellers carry this documentation‚” Gigaba said.
“Our immigration officials will only insist on documentation by exception – in high-risk situations – rather than for all travellers in line with practice by several other countries. Rather than denying entry where documentation is absent‚ travellers will be given an opportunity to prove parental consent. South African minors will still be required to prove parental consent when leaving our borders.”
Gigaba said these changes would be implemented in time for the festive season‚ when many people would be travelling with children.
The minister said his department was reviewing the visa regime for African countries outside the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Currently 15 of the 16 SADC countries do not require visas to visit SA‚ with the exception of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Of SA’s top 10 African tourist markets‚ only Nigeria has a visa requirement for ordinary passport holders.
Gigaba said negotiations were being finalised to conclude visa waiver agreements for ordinary passport holders from Algeria‚ Egypt‚ Morocco‚ Sao Tome & Principe‚ Tunisia‚ the Sahrawi-Arab Democratic Republic and Ghana in Africa; from Saudi Arabia‚ United Arab Emirates‚ Qatar‚ State of Palestine‚ Iran‚ Lebanon‚ Bahrain‚ Oman and Kuwait in the Middle East; Belarus and Georgia in Eastern Europe; and Cuba in the Caribbean.
Visa requirements for India and China – both in the top 10 tourism markets – will be simplified as from next month by making provision for taking biometrics on arrival in SA; allowing visa applications via courier; and issuing five-year‚ multiple-entry visas.
“We will consider easing similarly travel restrictions for certain categories of visitors for other countries‚ including Nigeria‚ Kenya and Uganda‚” Gigaba said.
Another measure to ease the movement of travellers has been the implementation of a three-year‚ multiple-entry visa for frequent trusted travellers to SA and a 10-year‚ multiple-entry visa for business people and academics from Africa.
Business people from China and India will be issued a 10-year‚ multiple-entry visa within five days of application. The critical skills list will be reviewed by April 2019.
Gigaba said SA was currently finalising the development of a new biometric movement control system‚ which will be piloted at Cape Town and Lanseria international airports.
The development of an e-visa was at an advanced stage and would be piloted in New Zealand by April next year‚ Gigaba said. E-gates will be piloted at OR Tambo‚ Cape Town and King Shaka international airports by 2019. This would allow returning South Africans as well as certain categories of trusted travellers to be processed electronically rather than having to interact with an immigration officer.

South America: an emerging market for SA’s tourism

Tourism Update – 22 September 2018

The South American market has grown significantly for South Africa, we take a look at why.
Following the release of South Africa’s July arrivals stats, Tourism Update spoke to experts in the trade about the continued growth coming out of the South American market.
According to the trade, there are a number of factors driving the growth out of South America.
André Laget, Managing Director at Akilanga DMC & Events says: “As emerging markets, these countries are affected by a stronger Dollar and Euro, the same as the Rand. So when the Dollar strengthens, USA and Europe become expensive for South American tourists, and South Africa is a good option after that.” Sonia Fernandez Carralero, Key Accounts Sales Manager – Latin America, S Europe, Scandinavia, Australasia at Thompsons Africa says: “Although these countries have their respective currencies, (which is not the dollar), their trips are worked out in dollars, making South Africa very competitive in comparison to other typical destinations. Often South American agents request itineraries to be priced in dollars.”
Air access has also been a key factor for South America, particularly after the introduction of direct flights from Sao Paulo to Johannesburg by Latam. Victoria Rodenacker, Market Manager at Tourvest DMC agrees, saying: “With more flight options on Latam Airlines, and the shorter connecting times in Sao Paulo it has made it easier for travellers to reach South Africa. This is a deciding factor when they plan their trips.”
Ederval Carbonaro, Sales and Marketing Manager at Kobo Safaris says: “When SAA removed the flights from Argentina to South Africa it was terrible. We lost many passengers to other destinations, because the connection from Argentina, Chile and Peru was quite difficult. The passengers had to fly to Sao Paulo for their connection to SA. The layover at the airport was quite long, and clients had to overnight in Sao Paulo, which added to the expense. We have seen an increase in business with Latam flying to South Africa from South America.”
Laget notes that although Latam flies via Sao Paulo, it is a large regional carrier in South America, with many routes for connections out of Brazil and Argentina. “It is also a trusted name,” he explains. Carbonaro adds that the connection via Sao Paolo seems acceptable, as Latam is the biggest airline in South America, “so they have great credibility”.
Laget also notes that TAAG is a growing carrier between the two continents. “It flies to Luanda, via Sao Paulo, and is very well priced. The big drawcard is that they fly direct to Cape Town, so passengers no longer have to connect via Johannesburg. They can go Sao Paolo-Luanda-Cape Town, whereas with SAA they previously had to fly via Johannesburg to get to the Western Cape.”
In terms of what kinds of travellers are choosing South Africa, Fernandez Carralero says: “We have received groups as well as FITs (Free Independent Travellers), family travel and older age groups (especially during their school holidays, which is their travelling high season, from December to March). They like child-friendly places; this is a market that travels in big families including three generations at times.” Laget notes that Akilanga has a large Portuguese-speaking group tour of around 35 guests leaving every week. “Family travel is popular and group tours in their home languages. The Brazilian market does not appear to do much self-drive.”
Laget also notes that there is a growing demand for holidays in South Africa from a younger group of tourists who tend to book everything themselves online.
It appears that factors affecting other key source markets have not had the same effect on South America. While European and Asian markets took a knock when the Western Cape water crisis was at its worst, South America did not. Laget says: “Brazil and Argentina have also had water problems over the last few years, so they are also more comfortable with restrictions and know how to continue enjoying themselves.” Carbonaro agrees, saying: “The water restrictions were not a big issue, because most of these countries have been in this situation before.”
In terms of the visa situation that has plagued the industry, the trade agrees that the South American market was initially affected and then appeared to settle down. Carbonaro says: “The visa situation for South America was an issue in the beginning, especially the unabridged birth certificate which needed to be translated, and all the extra paper work that is required. With time the agencies and passengers have learned how to deal with this situation.”
Carralero also notes that key South American countries often tour more than one country at once and that a new visa regime in Zimbabwe opened the region up for Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Peru. “These are actually the countries that travel the most to southern Africa. Often South American countries do more than just one country when visiting Africa. South Africa and Vic Falls or Botswana has become very popular, thus the new visa regulation in Zimbabwe opens more doors.”
In terms of exposure for the destination, Laget notes that particularly for Brazil, the press has been dominated by news of the upcoming election, “so anything negative about South Africa is not really making headlines there, which is good for us. However, it does also mean slow bookings for October when the election is due to take place.”
Finally, it appears that destination marketing has been key for South America. Carralero notes that SA Tourism and private tour operators have been investing time in marketing to South America. Carbonaro says: “I have just come back from a roadshow in South America and SA Tourism is doing a great job there.”

Without an ID, you are no one in your own country

22 September 2018, Pretoria News
Pretoria – I always knew where I belonged then my ID was stolen and I was nowhere and I was no one.
In my heart I am a South African. But for a short time I had nothing to prove this. This was terrifying, although I am in the lucky position to have an ID number and I am on the system. I was thus able to replace my most important document with relative ease.
Many people battle for years to try to prove who they are. I again realised it recently when desperate “faceless people” yet again had to turn to court to be able to belong somewhere
The Department of Home Affairs will not simply issue birth certificates and ID documents without being thoroughly convinced the person it issued one of these documents to was indeed South African.
But, on the other hand, even being a legal citizen can be hard to prove with often incompetent officials who do not really care to assist. Sometimes things are out of your hands, as in the case of a Cape Town father, who only realised five years ago that his now 11-year-old daughter’s birth was never registered.
This was not his fault. He made use of a private company when his daughter was born to register her birth.
He filled in the required documents and paid the fee. Ten days later the birth certificate was delivered at the hospital.
All went well and the father was even able to obtain a passport for his daughter. But to his shock he discovered five years ago that the birth certificate was fraudulent. This was when her passport had lapsed and he wanted to renew it.
Home Affairs told the father his daughter was not on their system.
This was the start of the father’s uphill battle to try to obtain a legal birth certificate for his daughter. He visited various Home Affairs offices and filled in the required documents.
The department questioned why the father did not have the proof of his application for the birth certificate 11 years ago. The father said he did not keep it. Who would after all these years?
The company did not respond and the hospital simply said it was not liable.
The child is meanwhile being home schooled, as no school wanted to accept her without any valid papers.
The father said it is a major problem, as his child is faceless. She cannot participate in any extramural activities and no school wanted to take her in. But the biggest problem is that without a birth certificate, she cannot obtain an ID document. Without this, she can basically not function as an adult, as she won’t be able to open a bank account or get a job.
The court ordered that Home Affairs had to tissue her with a birth certificate within 14 days.
In the same court a judge ordered that a boy, aged 12, be declared a South African citizen.
His parents managed to obtain this order with the help of Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR).
The department refused to register his birth, as in the case of the 11-year-old, despite his right to be recognised as a South African citizen. This had also left him effectively stateless.
Two unknown children had been registered under his mother’s name at Home Affairs. One child was born a month after him and the department refused to register two children born within a month of each other.
Despite her complaints to remove the other children, Home Affairs had not investigated the matter since 2007.
The child remained unregistered despite being a South African citizen by law. His school refused him to further attend without a birth certificate. His mother was forced to send him to KwaZulu-Natal, where a rural school agreed to accept him.
In this case the court also intervened and ordered the department to issue him with a birth certificate.
LHR said it was concerned that the department’s lack of service delivery was rendering children stateless.
It said there was an urgent need for an independent complaints body (an ombudsman) for the department. It said Home Affairs had a long way to go to realise that these children had rights.
A birth certificate is the first step to “belong”, as Frederik Ngubane, who was born in South Africa realised. He lost his birth certificate when the taxi he was in was hijacked. All his belongings, including his birth certificate, were stolen.
Home Affairs refused to issue him with a South African ID, as he was unable to provide documented evidence that he was born here. Ngubane said his only evidence that he was a South African was his birth certificate.
The court referred the matter back to Home Affairs for a proper investigation into his circumstances.
According to the UN High Commission for Refugees, statelessness is a reality for about two million people around the world. It is a sad reality with dire consequences for many.

5 Key visa developments across the globe travellers need to know about

2018-05-29 – Traveller 24
Cape Town – It’s no secret South Africa’s Green Mamba is not the strongest passport in the world.
When it comes to visa-free travel, Saffas have access to some 100 countries across the world’s 200 modern borders, ranking as the third most powerful passport on the continent of Africa. But this does not even come close to the likes of Japan and Singapore, tied at 180 countries for the world’s most powerful passport, followed by Germany with access to 179 countries as the third most powerful passport globally.
South Africa has ranked 52nd overall in the 2018 Henley Passport Index with locals enjoying visa-free access to some 29 African countries.
So what are the latest visa developments – both related South Africans and the world at large? Take a look.
1. SA e-visas prioritised as sticky ease of access continues to hamper tourism growth
The roll-out of eVisas is expected to commence in Q4 this year, according to the DHA.
Set to be gradual roll-out starting with “Phase 1, Release 1, for applications for temporary residence visas, adjudication of temporary residence visas, applications for waivers, notifications to the applicant via email and biometrics captured at the Mission.”
The ePermit will be piloted at one Mission or local office in the last quarter of the next financial year by 31st March 2019. This is to ensure system stability. Once stable, more offices locally and abroad can then be gradually brought online, says the DHA
This is sure to make travel to South Africa much simpler and less complicated once it is up and running.
2. UAE sprints up the passport power rankings as Russia issues visa waiver for World Cup
The UAE appears to be sprinting up the ranks – making it the highest climber overall in global travel access growth.
While slipping in at 23rd place, the UAE has ascended 38 places since 2008. The country has secured more visa-waivers for its citizens in 2018 than any other jurisdiction in the world and is quickly closing in on the lead that Israel, in 19th place, has historically held within the Middle East region, according to Henleys.
3. SA plans to ease visa admin for holders of valid US, UK or Canadian visas
As South Africa awaits the implementation of the eVisas pilots in Q4 of this year, the DHA is looking to make it easier for travellers to enter SA if they have already been vetted through rigorous visa process abroad.
It intends to allow travellers with an active US, UK, Schengen, Canadian or Australian visa to be able to enter SA with a visa-on-arrival approval process.
SA’s Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom confirmed the DHA is still finalising this and that moving in the direction of online visas is however first prize. However, at least with this a significant amount of people who already have those visas would be able to come to South Africa, easily.
“Other key issues placed on the agenda for official discussion during the preliminary meeting with the Gigaba included scrapping the unabridged birth certificate requirement and the implementation of the strong advisory as concluded by the standing committee, as well as the issue of so-called swallows needing to return home in order to renew their visas after three months,” says Hanekom.
4. Saudi Arabia to launch tourist visas
Saudi Arabia has started issuing visas, in a first for the kingdom – as it undergoes major economic and social reforms.
Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz told AFP that “all government approvals” are in place for the launch of electronic visas to “all nationals whose countries allow their citizens to visit” Saudi Arabia.
The move to open up its tourism sector is a major shift for Saudi Arabia as powerful Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman seeks to radically overhaul the kingdom’s oil-dependent economy and shed its ultra-conservative image.
5. China excludes SA from new list of visa-free travel to its island of Hainan
China has unveiled plans to permit visa-free travel to its southern island of Hainan, as Beijing pushes international tourism to the tropical destination in another step to open up the region.
The new policy will start in May and allow travellers from 59 countries to visit Hainan for 30 days visa free, said Qu Yunhai, deputy director of the State Immigration Administration at a press conference in Beijing.Among the countries to be included in the programme are Russia, United States, France, Britain and Germany, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

Ramaphosa to Ease Visa Rules to Boost South African Tourism, Sources Say

20 September 2018, – Bloomberg
• President revamps rules in a bid to stimulate flagging economy
• Existing rules blamed for drop in number of foreign visitors
South Africa’s cabinet decided to loosen visa rules and scrap a controversial travel requirement for children as it seeks to attract more investment and tourists, according to two people familiar with the matter.
The measures are among a series of initiatives to be announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday as he intensifies efforts to revive economic growth, said the people who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public yet. Africa’s most-industrialized economy entered its first recession since 2009 in the second quarter.
South Africa is particularly targeting travelers from China and India, two of the world’s fastest-growing outbound tourism markets, News24 reported in July, citing Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom. China accounted for 130 million travelers globally, with India forecast for have 50 million people traveling abroad by 2020, it said.
The number of visitors to South Africa from outside the continent declined 1.5 percent year-on-year in the first seven months of this year, according to Statistics South Africa data.
The government will ease work-permit requirements for scarce skills and simplify the process for business and leisure travelers to obtain short-term entry documents, the people said. Multiple-entry visas and electronic-visa applications will also be introduced, they said.
A requirement that traveling children be accompanied by one natural parent and that they have a full birth certificate stating the names of both parents is being scrapped. The measures, introduced in 2014 to reduce child trafficking, led to a drop in the number of visitors to South Africa.

UK is introducing a new two-year seasonal visa – here’s what South Africans need to know

UK is introducing a new two-year seasonal visa – here’s what South Africans need to know
15 September 2018 – News 24
The UK Home Government announced earlier this month that it will launch a two-year seasonal worker pilot scheme.
According to Breytenbachs Immigration Consultants, the scheme aims to bring 2,500 seasonal workers to farms in the UK.
The UK Visa pilot scheme will allow workers from outside the EU to do seasonal farm work in the UK for up to six months. There will be a cap of 2,500 workers per year.
“The UK government hope that the pilot scheme will help alleviate farm labour shortages during the peak production periods in the UK. They also said that an automated harvesting solutions are not universally available, and hope that this pilot scheme will support farmers during peak production times,” Breytenbachs explained.
“The results of the UK visa pilot scheme will be reviewed, and the UK Government will then determine how to support the long-term needs of the farming industry in the UK.”
It added that farmer unions in the UK reportedly welcomed the new visa pilot scheme but warned that it was not ambitious enough, as more workers are needed on UK farms.
According to Breytenbachs, to qualify under the Seasonal Worker Pilot the worker will have to be at least 18 years of age on the date of application. In addition, the scheme will only be open to workers from outside the European Union.
The UK Home Office said that the scheme will start in the spring of 2019, and will run until December 2020 – with more details expected to be announced closer to the launch date.
According to jobs website Indeed, farm labourers earn an average of £7.98 (R155) an hour across the UK right now.
The data shows a minimum salary of £6.65 (R130) an hour – rising to £12.05 (R233) for top earners.
However, the UK programme will likely be similar to other seasonal programmes (such as those in New Zealand and the US), where labourers are paid slightly more due to it being peak season, and may also be provided with accommodation.
It should also be noted that these salaries only apply to very basic labour positions, and more advanced/technical work may pay substantially more.