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South Africa: Asylum Seeker Wins Right to Marry

The Supreme Court of Appeal has declared Home Affairs’s prohibition on asylum seekers marrying unconstitutional
If you are an asylum seeker whose application for asylum in terms of Section 21 of the Refugee Act has not been finalised, you are still permitted to enter into a marriage. The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) affirmed this in a judgment handed down in October.
Background
A case was brought by asylum seeker Emmanuel Ochogwu, whose application for refugee status has been pending with the Refugee Appeal Board for over six years. He is a Christian pastor who fled the religious persecution of Boko Haram in Nigeria.
During the prolonged delay in finalising his application, Ochogwu formed a relationship with Zizipho Nkumanda. The two married in terms of customary law. In 2016, they approached Home Affairs to register their customary marriage in terms of the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act and conclude a civil marriage under the Marriage Act. This is a practice commonly adopted by customary law spouses to ensure full legal recognition of their union.
The parties were asked to prove the existence of the customary marriage and provide Ochogwu’s asylum permit for verification. They complied, providing an affidavit from Nkumanda’s father, confirming the conclusion of a customary marriage and Ochogwu’s latest asylum seeker permit.
On Valentine’s Day 14 February 2017, the couple returned to Home Affairs to finalise their marriage. But Home Affairs indicated that a recently published circular from the Deputy Director for Civic Services prohibited the marriages for asylum seekers whose applications for asylum were not finalised.
Dismayed, the couple approached the Eastern Cape Division High Court for relief.
High Court
The couple argued that the circular was an unconstitutional infringement of their rights to equality and dignity. Also, they argued that the circular infringed international law treaties on the rights of asylum seekers. These international laws, which South Africa has signed and ratified, expressly prohibit the prejudicial conduct of Home Affairs.
Highlighting the unreasonableness of Home Affairs’s conduct, the couple pointed out that the Refugee Appeal Board had been defunct for two years, resulting in Ochogwu waiting for a decision for over five years.
Home Affairs argued that the applicants should wait for a decision by the Refugee Appeal Board. Also, they argued that the applicants marriage was fraudulent to secure residency rights for Ochogwu. But Home Affairs provided no evidence for this.
After considering the arguments, the High Court concluded that the circular infringed the applicants’ rights to equality and was therefore unconstitutional. The court ordered that the parties should be allowed to marry. The respondents appealed.
Supreme Court of Appeal
The SCA considered two main issues. First, the legal status of the Home Affairs circular. Second, whether the ban on marriage for asylum seekers was unconstitutional.
Home Affairs argued that a circular is not a law and therefore the court cannot review it. But the court said that a circular is meant to guide officials in implementing government policy. The SCA noted that a similar argument had been used in the case of Ahmed v Minister of Home Affairs. The Constitutional Court in that case rejected the argument stating that it was not important to decide whether a circular was a law or not. What was important, the Constitutional Court concluded, was whether it was treated as a law by those responsible for implementing it. Put differently, if Home Affairs used the circular to give or deprive people of their rights (as laws do), then the court can review it.
The advocate representing Home Affairs argued that considering the circular as a whole, it did not bar asylum seekers from getting married. The words of the circular, he said, affirmed the right of asylum seekers to marry but only sought to guide marriage officers in concluding marriages and prevent marriages involving undocumented immigrants.
The SCA disagreed. The court took particular note of the sections of the circular that read: “refugees whose asylum application is pending cannot contemplate marriage” and “should there be an inquiry to a refugee or asylum seeker status, the marriage cannot be concluded”. The SCA concluded that these sections clearly deny asylum seekers the right to marry. Also, the court said, an interpretation that denied Ochogwu the right to marry is how the circular was understood by Home Affairs officials.
The SCA said that all interpretations of fundamental rights, such as the right to equality, must acknowledge the constitutional value of dignity. The court found it unacceptable that the wording of the circular was contradictory — the circular affirmed the right of asylum seekers to marry in one sentence, only to deny the right in the next. The court quoted the judgment of Minister of Home Affairs v Watchenuka, where the Constitutional Court stated “human dignity has no nationality”.
The SCA referred to judgments of the Constitutional Court that speak to the importance of marriage as a social institution for the expression of one’s dignity and autonomy – “it offers a social and legal shrine for love and for commitment and for a future shared with another human being”.
Court rebukes Home Affairs
The SCA’s conclusion also included a scathing rebuke of Home Affairs. The court said that judicial precedent required the state to respect the law, to fulfil procedural requirements and to tread respectfully when dealing with rights. The court found Home Affairs had failed dismally to achieve these constitutional imperatives. The court described Home Affairs’s conduct as “inexcusable and deserving of censure”. It said that Home Affairs officials were lucky to not have been called upon to personally pay the costs of litigation.
The court took particular exception to Home Affairs questioning the legitimacy of the couple’s marital relationship
www.samigration.com

SA, Ethiopia finalise visa waivers for officials

31 Jan 2020 – Tourism Update
South Africa and Ethiopia have signed an agreement to waive of visa requirements for holders of diplomatic or official/service passports.
Ethiopian Prime Minster, Abiy Ahmed Ali, and South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, said in a press statement that the waiver was “expected to ease the travel of officials who will contribute to further strengthen bilateral relations”.
The two men discussed further co-operation in addressing illegal migration. Both leaders signed the memorandum of understating on the co-operation in tourism and recognise that it will be key to creating employment opportunities, especially for the youth.
Prime Minister Ali was a special guest at the African National Congress’s 108th anniversary celebrations in the Northern Cape
www.samigration.com

23 countries where money can buy you a second passport or ‘elite residency’

The super-rich are no longer just spending their money on private jets, yachts, and hotels — they’re also splashing out on second passports.
The Second Citizenship Survey 2017 from CS Global Partners found that 89% of people would like to own a second passport, and over 34% said they had looked into investing in a second citizenship.
Even more striking were the 80% who said they would be willing to invest or donate 5% of their annual salary for a second citizenship — more than they spend on monthly rent.
Luckily, a number of countries offer Citizenship by Investment (CIP) programs where money — normally invested in real estate — can actually buy a second passport, and the elite status that comes along with owning citizenship in another country.
Other programs offer “elite residency” — an extended visa with perks — in exchange for similar investments.
Nuri Katz, President of pex Capital Partners, an international advisory firm that specialises in CIPs, told Business Insider: “For a lot of wealthy people having a second or third passport is important for the ability to travel. For some it’s also a status symbol, like buying a fancy car to show your friends.”
He added that along with the travel benefits and the status that comes along with owning real estate around the world, the programs also allow people to manage their tax burdens.
“Second citizenship is becoming more than just getting a passport,” he said. “There are certain advantages towards using second citizenship to create residence in countries where tax burdens would be lower than where you are at the current time.”
However, Katz explained there’s a difference between CIPs and residency programs. “Citizenship is forever, and cannot be taken away unless you received it under fraudulent circumstances,” he said. “You also get a passport.”
Meanwhile, as laws change, a residency visa can be taken away — but it’s a more affordable way to get the perks that come along with living in another country.
In order to put together a complete list of countries that offer citizenship or residency by investment, along with advice from Katz, Business Insider consulted the latest CBI Index, published by the Financial Times’ PWM magazine, and spoke to global investment migration firm Henley & Partners and global citizenship and residence planning company Knightsbridge Capital Partners.
Whether you choose to splash out for full citizenship or you invest in residency, here are 23 countries where money can buy you a second passport — or at least a chance to live long-term abroad — ranked by cost, from cheapest to most expensive.
23. Thailand — ‘Elite residency’ from THB 500,000 (R236,523).
Dmitry Pichugin/500px
The Thai government offers “elite” residency visas for wealthy foreign citizens, allowing them to live in the country for around R45,711 a year.
There are seven different packages, with the most expensive being the “Elite Ultimate Privilege” scheme for R914,220 for 20 years of residency.
Here are the three most popular options, according to Henley & Partners:
Elite Easy Access
• Five-year residence visa for the one-time fee of THB 500,000 (R232,409)
Elite Family Excursion
• A five-year visa for two people, for a one-time fee of THB 800,000 (R371,858), plus an additional charge of THB 300,000 (R139,449) per dependent.
Elite Superiority Extension/Elite Ultimate Privilege
• 20-year residence visa for a one-time fee of THB 2.14 million (R994,717)
-Package includes complimentary VIP privileges such as government concierge services and airport services
22. Latvia — Residency from €64,600 (R1.13 million).
Airbnb
For residency in Latvia, here’s what’s required:
• A minimum of €286,000 (R5 million) over a period of five years in a credit institution, or;
• To invest in equity capital, the foreign national must invest a minimum of €36,000 (R634,727) and must pay a minimum of €28,600 (R504,255) in the next year.
Henley & Partners added that there are also options to apply for the residence permit through the purchase of real estate or interest-free government bonds.
You can apply for citizenship after five years through process of naturalization (i.e. language test, history test), according to Katz.
“The true catch here is when they want to get citizenship, they have to take a language test, and Latvian is an impossible language to learn as an adult,” Katz said.
“No one can, and they know it, and as such they know no one will ever become a citizen.”
=19. Saint Lucia — Citizenship from $100,000 (R1.5 million).
Courtesy of Jade Mountain
There are three ways to get citizenship in Saint Lucia, according to Katz:
• A donation of at least $100,000 (R1.5 million) to the Saint Lucia National Economic Fund (depending on number of dependents), or;
• Investment of at least $300,000 (R4.5 million) in an approved real estate development, or;
• Investment of $3.5 million (R5.3 million) in an approved enterprise project.
=19. Dominica — Citizenship from $100,000 (R1.5 million).
Dominica is appealing due to its visa-free access to more than 110 countries, according to Arabian Business. Katz said there are two options:
• A donation to the National Transformation Fund of $100,000 (R1.5 million) for a single applicant, or $200,000 (R3 million) for a family of four, or;
• A real estate investment of $200,000 (R3 million).
=19. Antigua and Barbuda — Citizenship from $100,000 (R1.5 million).
There are three ways to get citizenship through investment in Antigua and Barbuda:
• Real estate investment of a least $400,000 (R6 million), or;
• A donation to the National Development Fund of $100,000 (R1.5 million), or;
• A $400,000 (R6 million) investment in an existing but newly-created business venture.
=17. St. Kitts and Nevis — Citizenship from $150,000 (R2.2 million).
Following the devastation St. Kitts and Nevis faced after last year’s hurricane season, pricing for the CIP programme has been adjusted, according to Katz. Its citizens also now have access to more than 150 jurisdictions worldwide, since the country has signed travel treaties with the likes of Russia, Moldova, Nepal, India, Indonesia, Rwanda, and Taiwan within the last year. Here are your options, according to Henley & Partners:
• A non-refundable donation of $250,000 (R3.9 million) for a single applicant to the SIDF, a non-profit foundation which funds the developent of alternative industries to support the national economy, or;
• A non-refundable donation to the SIDF of $300,000 (R4.5 million) for an applicant with up to three dependants, as well as an additional $25,000 (R380,000) per additional dependent, or;
• A non-refundable contribution of $150,000 (R2.2 million) to the SGF, a fund which supports economic growth in all sectors of the economy, with an additional $25,000 (R380,925) for a spouse or $10,000 (R152,370) for each additional applicant, or;
• The purchase of real estate valued at at least $200,000 (R3 million) which cannot be sold for a seven-year period, or;The purchase of real estate valued at at least $400,000 (R6 million) which cannot be sold for a five-year period.
=17. Grenada — Citizenship from $150,000 (R2.2 million).
There are two ways to get citizenship through investment in Grenada:
• A $150,000 (R2.2 million) donation to the Grenada National Transformation Fund, or;
• Real estate investment of at least $350,000 (R5.3 million), plus some additional fees.
16. Vanuatu — Citizenship from $155,000 (R2.3 million).
According to the latest CBI Index, the Vanuatu Contribution Programme (VCP) is one of two active citizenship by investment schemes, alongside the Development Support Programme (DSP), but under the DSP citizens cannot vote or participate in political life. Under the VCP, here are the requirements:
• A minimum contribution of $130,000 (R1.9 million), plus $25,000 (R380,925) in processing fees, and;
• A minimum net worth of $250,000 (R3.8 million).
15. Cambodia — Citizenship from 1bn Cambodian riels (R3.7 million).
Cambodia has been allowing foreigners to naturalise following an investment since 1996, according to the latest CBI Index.
While the Cambodian senate approved a draft law on June 11, 2018 that could alter the country’s economic citizenship landscape (and increase the investment thresholds,) for now, these are the options:
• Invest 1.2bn Cambodian riels (R4.4 million) into the nation. Investment must be approved by either by the Cambodian Development Council or by the Royal Government, or;
• Donate 1bn Cambodian riels (R3.7 million) for the restoration and rebuilding of Cambodia’s economy.
Applications must also have knowledge of Khmer history and language, and must travel to Cambodia to obtain good behaviour, police, and health certificates, as well as to sign the relevant citizenship oath.
14. Moldova — Citizenship from €250,000 (R4.4 million).
A CIP program has been confirmed for Moldova, and according to Henley & Partners, these are the options:
• An investment of €450,000 (R7.9 million) to projects in developed areas, or;
• An investment of €250,000 (R4.4 million) to projects in underdeveloped areas.
13. Greece — Residency from €250,000 (R4.4 million).

(Unsplash)
To gain residency in Greece, you need to invest a minimum of €250,000 (R4.4 million) in Greek properties.
=11. Portugal — ‘Golden Visa’ from €350,000 (R6.1 million).

VickySP/GettyImages
To gain residency in Portugal, there are plenty of options, according to Henley & Partners.
The options include:
Capital Transfer
• A transfer of at least €1 million (R17 million) into a Portuguese bank account, or approved investment option, or;
• €350,000 (R6.1 million) investment in research activities that are part of the national scientific and technological system, or;
• €350,000 (R6.1 million) investment in artistic production or the national cultural heritage, or;
• €350,000 (R6.1 million) in investment or venture capital funds committed to the capitalization of companies incorporated under the Portuguese law, with a maturity of at least five years.
Property Aquisition
• Real estate purchase of at least €500,000 (R8.8 million), or;
• Real estate purchase of at least €350,000 (R6.1 million) for the refurbishment of properties older than 30 years, or in an area of urban regeneration.
Business
• Creation of a minimum of 10 new jobs, or;
• €350,000 (R6.1 million) for the incorporation or increase of share capital of a Portugese company, creating or maintaining a minimum of five permanent jobs, for a period of three years.
=11. Montenegro — Citizenship from €350,000 (R6.1. million).

radzonimo/stock.adobe.com There are two options for citizenship by investment in Montenegro, according to Katz. A program limited to 2,000 applicants that will launch in October includes:
• Invest €250,000 (R4.4 million) in a government-approved development project in the northern part of Montenegro (undeveloped area); or
• Invest €450,000 (R7.9 million) in a government-approved development project in the southern part of Montenegro (developed area).
There’s an additional fee of €100,000 (R1.7 million) per application, which is also be paid to the government, and will be invested in “a special fund for the development of less developed areas within Montenegro.”
10. U.S. — Residency from $500,000 (R7.6 million).
The EB-5 visa leads to US conditional resident status (known as a green card), which can then lead to a U.S. passport.
Two years after conditional residence is granted, investors and their families become eligible for permanent residency. Investment options:
• Investment of $500,000 (R7.6 million) in a rural area, or area with high unemployment into a new commercial enterprise to create 10 new full-time jobs, or;
• Direct investment of $1 million (R15 million) in an American commercial enterprise.
• Funds may stay invested until permanent resident status is granted (usually 4 years).
There is also the Regional Center Program, where applicants:
• Invest $500,00 (R7.6 million) into a designated Regional Centre project, becoming a limited partner of the enterprise
• The applicant is then free to live and work anywhere in the USA.
• However, they must have a net worth of at least $1 million (R15 million).
9. Spain — “Golden Visa” from €500,000 (R8.8 million).
mrks_v/stock.adobe.com
Spain has a Golden Visa program, which can eventually lead to citizenship. Here are the options for residency, according to Henley & Partners:
• Minimum investment of €500,000 (R8.8 million) in real estates, or;
• Minimum investment of €1 million (R17 million) in shares of Spanish companies, or;
• Minimum deposit of €1 million (R17 million) at a Spanish bank, or;
• Minimum investment of €2 million (R35 million) in government bonds.
• After five years, applicant can request permanent residency.
• After 10 years, they can request citizenship.
8. Bulgaria — Citizenship from 1 million BGN (R9 million).

There are two investment options in Bulgaria.
Investment option one:
• A 1 million Bulgarian lev (£448,443) investment in a full-guaranteed government bond for five years.
• The investment will be returned to the investor after the term without interest.
The fast-track option:
• Investment of 1 million lev (£448,443) in government-guaranteed bonds, and;
• Investment of an additional 1 million lev (R7.9 million) one year later.
• At least one year of permanent residency
• You must hold both investments for at least two years after the citizenship is granted.
7. Canada — Citizenship from $800,000 (R12 million).
Created by the Canadian government to attract wealthy business people to the country, the Immigrant Investors Program means you can gain permant residency if you meet the following four criteria, according to Henley & Partners:
• Demonstrate proper business experience — must have previously managed or operated a qualified business for at least two out of five years preceding your application, and;
• You (and your spouse) must have a personal net worth exceeding $1.6 million (R24 million), and;
• Entire family must complete and pass Canada’s medical and security evaluations, and;
• You make an investment of at least $800,000 (R12 million) for a period of five years under one of the two available programs.
The Federal Immigrant Investor Program
• This program has been closed since its annual application cap was filled in 2011.
• However, it does not apply to Quebec.
The Quebec Immigrant Investor Program
• Investor must obtain a Certificate of Selection of Quebec before applying for health and security screening to be admitted to Canada.
• Once admitted, you don’t have to live in Quebec, as all Canadian residents have freedom of movement and establishment across provinces and terriories
=5. Turkey — Citizenship from $1 million (R1.5 million).

Launched in January 2017, Turkey’s economic citizenship programme offers five options, three of which involve investment over three years, according to the CBI Index.
The first three options are:
• Purchase a property valued at $1 million (R15 million), or;
• Deposit $3 million (R45 million) into a Turkish bank, or;
• Invest $3 million (R45 million) in government bonds.
But there are two more routes:
• Investment of $2 million (R30 million) in fixed capital, or;
• The creation of 100 jobs in Turkey.
=5. Malta — Citizenship from €880,000 (R15 million).
PhotoWorks/123rf.com The current investment options in Malta are:
• A non-refundable contribution of at least €650,000 (R11.4 million) to National Development and Social Fund, and;
• Purchase of €150,000 (R2.6 million) in government stocks/ bonds, and;
• A property transaction, which can include a purchase (for a minumum of R6.1 million) or a rental (for a minimum of €16,000 (R282,100) per year), held for five years.
4. Australia — Residency from $1.5 million AU (R12 million
Australia boasts a residency program that can lead to citizenship in the long term. However, it’s on the more expensive end. You’ll need:
• A personal net worth of a least $2.25 million AU (R22 million) which must apply for the two years previous to the individual’s application, and;
• An investment of $1.5 million AU (R15 million) into an Australia project or enterprise, which will in turn benefit the Australian economy.
3. Cyprus — Citizenship from €1.5 million (R26 million).

Until recently, Cyprus had the most expensive CIP program, according to Arabian Business.
The current investment options include:
• Real estate investment of at least €2 million (R35 million), or;
• Investment of at least €2 million (R35 million) in businesses or companies based and operating in Cyprus, or;
• Investment of at least €2 million (R35 million) in purchase units from Alternative Investment Funds (AIF).
You can also hold residency. Here are the criteria:
• The purchase of new property worth at least €300,000 (R5.2 million), and;
• Deposit a minimum of €30,000 (R528,939) from abroad into an account which will be locked for three years, and;
• Have an annual income of at least €30,000 (R528,939) deriving from abroad.
2.New Zealand — Residency from 3 million NZD (R30 million)
In New Zealand, you can live, work, and study under the Investor 1 and Investor 2 Resident Visa programs. you’ve got two options for residency, according to Henley & Partners:
With Investor 1:
• An investment of 10 million New Zealand dollars (R98 million) over three years.
• No maximum age limit, no language requirement, and no business experience requirement
With Investor 2:
• An investment of 3 million NZD (R29 million) over four years, and;
• Must be over 65, be English speaking, have at least three years of business experience, and a minimum of 2.5 million NZD in available funds or assets.
1. UK — Visa from £2 million (R35 million).
Jack Taylor/Getty Images
Luke Hexter, director of global citizenship and residence planning company Knightsbridge Capital Partners, told BI that the UK Tier 1 Investor Visa is one of its most popular. Here’s how it works:
• Investment of £2 million (R35 million) into the UK economy (in UK government bonds, share capital or loan capital in active and trading UK-registered companies, other than those principally engaged in property investment)
• Applicants must be at least 18 years of age and be from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland.
• The visa allows you to stay for 3 years, 4 months, which can be extended a further 2 years.
• Applicants can apply for indefinite leave to remain after 5 years in the UK.
• Applicants can apply for British citizenship after spending 6 years in the country.
www.samigration.com

A foundation for South African tourism growth

01 February 2020

Tourism, narrowly defined, currently contributes 2.9% to our GDP and supports 726 000 jobs in this country. When the impact of the industry’s supply chain linkages and total value creation in the economy are taken into account, this increases to 8.6% of GDP and 1.5 million jobs, or 9.2% of all employment in the South African economy.
Some 10.5 million international tourists visited South Africa in 2018, and StatsSA indicate that 6.5 million South African adults travelled for leisure purposes as domestic tourists in 2017.
The Public-Private Growth Initiative and Tourism Business Council’s Tourism Growth Strategy developed in late 2018, indicates that, given the right enabling environment, these numbers can grow to:
• 21 million international tourist arrivals – double the current number
• 3.5 million more domestic leisure travellers – more than double the current number with growth of 54%
• 1.7 million direct jobs – 132% growth in tourism jobs
• 3.5 million jobs in total throughout the economy – also 132% growth in the labour force dependent on tourism
The first two guiding principles of the 1996 Tourism White Paper, which remain relevant, stated that:
• Tourism will be private-sector driven
• Government will provide the enabling framework for the industry to flourish
Based on my involvement in research and strategic development plans for the tourism sector through many years, the following are critical for the sustained development and inclusive growth of tourism.
1. Drive inclusive growth of a sustainable and responsible tourism industry and, in so doing, address transformation and ensure benefits flow to communities.

2. Drive growth in higher spending international tourism markets to South Africa, from traditional markets and from important new high-growth markets, including those on our continent.

3. Drive growth of domestic leisure tourism, ensuring that quality of life and pride in our heritage and national assets are enjoyed by most South Africans through travel experiences in our beautiful country. Tourism must be an activity for all South Africans. The industry must address transformation in its customer base as much as in the business side of the industry.

4. Drive other key tourism sub-sectors, particularly business event tourism.

5. Drive tourism through working collaboratively with the private sector, partnering with South African Tourism, the Department of Tourism, the Provincial Tourism Authorities and Departments, and with Municipalities with active tourism departments and/or entities.

This industry can grow meaningfully, immediately, if a few key levers are moved, and can continue to grow over the next few years as we lay a foundation for truly transformative tourism growth thereafter. Transformative economically and for black empowerment. We want a successful South Africa and I believe tourism, with its ability to deliver two million more jobs, is the industry that can enable our country’s economic revitalisation.
I believe that this can be achieved with Government and private commitment to creating an enabling environment required to stimulate and support tourism growth and give this industry True Recognition as a key economic sector, with emphasis, policies and support equal to, or beyond that afforded to other key sectors, such as mining, agriculture, and car manufacturing!
Six Easy Wins!
1. A world-class eVisa system available in all countries whose nationals require visas. It must handle capacity and be easy to use. Documentation requirements must not be onerous and the turnaround should be quick for most visa issuance. It must, as soon as possible, have interfaces in multiple languages, particularly Mandarin.

2.An immediate overhaul of the National Public Transport Regulator (NPTR) with respect to tourism transport licences, and a moratorium for operators who have been unable to obtain renewals, or licences for their new vehicles. A task team to research and develop a new and workable system that could be a representative body to implement self-regulation for accreditation in line with the requirements of the Act and in partnership with NPTR.
3.Development of a Tourism Police/Tourism Monitors programme at scale; with appropriate partnerships (metro police, SAPS, private security, tourism private sector), institutional structures and resources. Best practice from other countries and successful local initiatives can be built on with strong nationwide co-ordination.

4. A functioning operational partnership between the private sector and SA Tourism to market destination South Africa, drawing on industry’s coalface expertise and synergising marketing activities. Smart, innovative and agile campaigns and messaging, including reputation management. Ensure core traditional markets are covered and develop significantly enhanced research and targeted campaigns for China, India and the rest of Africa.

5. A China-ready destination strategy, together with Trade and Industry, to facilitate Chinese business and leisure tourists accessing and enjoying our destination, including widespread Chinese language spoken, signage and other information in Chinese, accommodation and food preferences provided for, payment systems in place, WiFi capacity, and air access.

6. A national air access route development initiative, appropriately resourced, operating as a public private partnership to proactively woo airlines to add new routes and to expand capacity and frequencies on routes to South Africa.

Six Next-phase Steps!
7. A review of visa-requiring countries, with a view to implementing more visa waivers, taking particular account of countries with tourism potential, and to drop in totality the reciprocity principle.

8. Development of a comprehensive air transport strategy, including domestic, regional and long haul, in- and outbound, and freight. It must also cover all airports (Acsa and all other airports), ATNS infrastructure, all airlines, and the appropriate compliance and regulatory environment.

9. Stimulating investment through resort IDZ (industrial development zones) nodes, and/or packages of sector-growth incentives. IDZs would be located strategically, close to coastal or inland attractions, and to townships where they can draw on labour and stimulate supply chain. Immediate feasibility investigation and development of rationale for resorts’ IDZs should be commenced. Pure resort hotels (as in Mauritius, Morocco, Mexico – Cancun) are high-risk investments and governments of many successful destinations have been initial investors in such resorts and/or provided extensive incentives for their development.

10. Stimulate a latent domestic tourism market though smart social tourism programmes coupled with affordable product development. Government-owned (using upgraded, existing government resorts), privately operated affordable, resort chain addressing the product and experience needs of lower-middle and middle-class leisure travellers.

11. Key road infrastructure upgrades – badly damaged roads are common in many, often rural, areas that access tourism attractions, and driving conditions can be extremely dangerous. Domestic and foreign tourists are exposed to these dangerous roads, which are an embarrassment for a country that purports to have world-class road infrastructure. Tour buses have to drive with extreme caution to avoid incidents and self-drive tourists are often advised not to drive certain routes. An urgent route identification and funding plan for key tourism road upgrades is required.

12. A revised and enabling policy and regulatory environment through COGTA to ensure that ‘tourism’ municipalities address tourism appropriately. Tourism happens on the ground in municipalities, but it is largely not understood by municipal elected officials and officers. Best-practice models and approaches to support tourism must be developed and required of local, district and city municipalities identified as having good or excellent tourism potential.
www.samigration.com

South African living in the UK caught out by New Zealand’s new visa rules

We all hate the admin of visas – and many countries are tightening border security – even for visitors who are visa exempt – with the risk of not having the necessary documentation heightened.
New Zealand’s influx of visitors has seen it implement new security measures for travellers from 60 visa-waiver countries, in October 2019.
All visitors from these countries are expected to fill in a New Zealand electronic travel authority (NZeTA). South African travellers need a visitor’s visa – so they do not qualify for this security measure.
However, the NZeTA requirement has caused confusion for permanent residents of other countries, as one South African living in the UK discovered.
Jean van Wyngaardt and his Polish partner Kasia Luzynska booked their flights to New Zealand in April 2019 – saying they checked this new visa information on the Immigration New Zealand (INZ) website beforehand.
The New Zealand travel authority details the form takes about 72-hours to process at a cost of between NZ$9 to NZ$12 ( about R86 to R115 at R9.59/NZ$).
Van Wyngaardt filled in the NZeTa form with the understanding that he had a permanent Resident Visa for the UK and would be validated on that basis, even though he travels on a South African passport.
Wyngaardt has been in the UK since 2008 and is currently a business owner. He says he initially moved to the UK to travel more. “After some time I found that I really enjoyed the incredible diverse cultures of the people that live here.”
He has now shared how an admin nightmare has their upcoming adventure of lifetime in flux, as the authorities he initially spoke to telephonically were also unsure about the requirements.
“The NZeTA visa waiver page states you can apply for the NZeTA if you have the right to reside permanently in the UK. As it turns out, this only applies to UK passport holders, which is incredibly ambiguous. I mean, why would a UK passport holder not have the right to reside in the UK?” questions Van Wyngaardt.
Van Wyngaardt says the provision of the “right to reside” on the website, next to the UK implies a special condition and is misleading. He now requires a visitor visa as he is not a citizen of the UK or travelling on a UK passport. According to Immigration New Zealand, some UK passports issued to residents of UK overseas territories do not allow the holder to reside in the UK. But more importantly he is travelling on an SA passport.
Now more than a month after filling in the NZeTA and applying for his visa, and with less than a week to go before they are set to begin their trip, he is still waiting on his visa.
He will travel to Singapore for the two-days he and his girlfriend had planned before their actual trip to New Zealand on 15 January – however, if he does not get his visa approved in time, he will lose all the flight costs.
The NZeTA application can take up to 72hrs to be approved if done online, however travellers are being advised to check all the criteria beforehand to avoid any mishaps or messed-up travel plans.
“South Africa is an amazing place, and I come back regularly to visit family and friends,” says Wayngaardt.
But in this instance for travel to New Zealand he warns, “Triple check the information provided because as it’s written on the NZeTA website, it’s not clear.”
www.samigration.com

South Africans to pay more for Schengen Visas

South Africans will as from next month pay a fee of €80 (R1,283) instead of €60 (R962) when applying for a Schengen Visa from South Africa.
The increase also affects children, who will now have to pay €40 (R642) instead of €35 (R561), as it is currently.
South Africans will also be subjected to several changes in terms of visa application procedures, rules and benefits, starting from February.
Due to the implementation of the Updated Schengen Visa Code, adopted by the EU Council in June 2019, all representative missions of the Schengen Countries located abroad are obliged to apply the new rules, including the ones in South Africa.
The Schengen visa is one of the most famous visas in the world, and one of the best to have.
The French Embassy in Pretoria confirmed the price increase to SAnews.
“This decision has been taken by the European Union for all the Schengen countries,” said French Embassy Head of the Press, Yana Brugier.
Granting to its holder the possibility of traveling to 26 European countries, 22 of them part of the European Union, the number of Schengen visa applicants has been steadily increasing every year.
Currently, travellers from 104 countries and entities need to obtain a visa to enter the EU for stays up to three-months within the Schengen Zone.
“Since Regulation (EU) 2019/1155 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 June 2019 amending Regulation (EC) No 810/2009 establishing a Community Code on Visas (Visa Code) is binding in its entirety, and is directly applicable in all EU Member States in accordance with the Treaties, all Schengen countries, including Lithuania, will apply it from 2 February 2020,” an official from the Information Monitoring and Media Division of Lithuania explained to SchengenVisaInfo.com.
The new rules also permit South Africans to submit an application up to six months in advance of their trip, instead of three as it is now, and foresee a harmonized approach to the issuing of multiple entry visas with lengthier validity to regular travelers with a positive visa history.
According to SchengenVisaInfo.com, Member States that are not represented in South Africa in terms of visa admission, are now obliged to cooperate with external service providers, in order to facilitate visa application for travelers.
The external service providers are allowed to charge a service fee, which cannot be higher than the visa fee. This means South Africans applying at an external visa service provider may have to pay up to €160 per visa application, if the external service providers set the maximum service fee permitted, which is €80.
In addition, the updated Visa Code introduces a mechanism that assesses whether the visa fees should change, every three years. Another mechanism that will use visa processing as leverage will be introduced, in a bid to improve cooperation with third countries on readmission.
According to Gent Ukëhajdaraj from SchengenVisaInfo.com, due to this mechanism, the fees may increase even to €160, if the EU authorities see it necessary.
“A visa fee of €120 or €160 will apply to non-cooperative third-countries, in cases when the EU Commission considers that action is needed in order to improve the level of cooperation of the third country concerned and the Union’s overall relations with that third country,” Ukëhajdaraj explains, adding that this provision shall not apply to children under 12 years old.
The mechanism may also shorten visa validity, and introduce prolonged visa processing periods.
Statistics by SchengenVisaInfo.com show that in 2018, Schengen embassies and consulates in South Africa processed 221,790 visa applications, of which 5,403 were rejected.
Italy was the top favourite country for visa submission, as 44,298 of the applications submitted in South Africa were for Schengen visas to Italy, followed by France with 37,042 and Germany with 32,167 applications.
In terms of expenditures, in 2018, South Africans spent €13,307,400 in visa applications to Europe, and €324,180 was spent by applicants who had their visas rejected.
www.samigration.com

Amended Refugee Act restricts fundamental rights

Minister of Home Affairs Aaron Motsoaledi says Refugee Act amendments tie up loose ends and reduce regulation abuse. Others say they curtail the human rights of refugees and asylum seekers.
Minister of Home Affairs Aaron Motsoaledi has defended the new amendments to the Refugees Act that came into effect at the beginning of the year, saying they serve to tie up loose ends and fill gaps that led to regulation abuse. But they have been met with an avalanche of criticism citing human rights.
The 1998 Refugees Act, which is modelled on the 1951 Refugee Convention, a United Nations treaty, prescribes rules and regulations for asylum seekers and refugees. The act was recently amended to restrict access to work, curtail certain liberties and discourage political involvement or contact with diplomatic missions under threat of deportation.
Some of the amendments include a withdrawal of refugee status if one engages in political activity or campaigns, an age limit for dependents of refugees and a committee determining a refugee’s field of study and the limits to the work for which refugees may apply.
Vusimuzi Sibanda, chairperson of refugee advocacy group the African Diaspora Forum, says it is hoping this position will be reconsidered using the South African Constitution as a guide.
“There are certain parts of the Constitution that look at rights which can be limited. The right to participate in the political affairs of a country is a right that cannot be limited by anyone because that is a right to self-determination,” he says.
Sibanda adds that even if asylum seekers are in South Africa fleeing human rights violations, they are still citizens of their own countries. They have to be given the option of getting politically involved in fixing their country, so they can return.
Academic Jane Duncan agrees, saying that the regulations are disgraceful and that they remove fundamental rights from an already vulnerable constituency.
“[They] most likely would have been victims of persecution in their own countries and their ability to organise around the very issues that created their refugee status is denied to them … Unless refugee organisations can freely organise about issues affecting them directly, they will not be able to change those situations back home, which will create a bigger refugee crisis,” she says.
Political dissidents
Director of the Cape Town-based refugee support group Unifam, Patrick Matenga, who was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), says that the amendments contain both good and bad parts. But he agrees with the department of home affairs that some people abuse the system.
“International law provides for refugees to not be involved in politics … Some people are here to abuse the system of asylum seekers. They are here for political reasons and penetrate into the political system,” he says.
South Africa is home to a number of political dissidents who have organised in South Africa and been instrumental in shedding light on the plight of those in their countries of origin. Many former allies of Rwandan President Paul Kagame fled to South Africa, leading to the country being used as a site for violence and assassination. The situation became so tenuous that both nations removed diplomatic staff from the other.
Motsoaledi has previously positioned the amendment to political participation as a contribution to the continental peace and security architecture. In a radio interview, he said the department was complying with Article 23 of the African Union’s 30-year-old African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
Motsoaledi’s spokesperson, Siya Qoza, defended the amendment as necessary to prevent people from using South Africa as a ground for political warfare. “What we don’t want is … people to run away from their home countries, saying they are being persecuted for political participation, and coming here and using South Africa as a base to launch an attack against a country which is legitimate,” he says.
Qoza says African countries are all recognised by international and national bodies as being legitimate governments, citing free elections and independent judiciaries across the continent.
A question of legitimacy
Michael Neocosmos, the author of From ‘Foreign Natives’ to ‘Native Foreigners’, says legitimacy is beside the point as everybody has a human right to engage in the expression of political dissent so long as it’s peaceful. The formulation in the AU Charter mentions the terms “subversion and terrorism”, not “political” as the amendment states.
“No one is denying the legitimacy of the state. But the point is some states are oppressive and deny people their human rights, therefore that’s not the issue. Do they deny certain people their rights? If you are in Myanmar and seek asylum in Bangladesh, it doesn’t mean Myanmar isn’t legitimate, it just means you are oppressed in some way by being denied human rights,” he says.
Having received succour from other African states during the anti-apartheid struggle, it’s easy to spot the dissimilarity in support and sanctuary provided by South Africa to immigrants. But Qoza says the two cannot be compared.
“Here is the difference. ANC comrades went there as freedom fighters, they did not go there as refugees. Apartheid was declared a crime against humanity … ANC people were in camps, they were not integrated into society and provided for under specific conditions,” he says.
Securitisation and internationalism
“You don’t see foreigners as bringing skills, bringing employment, bringing in different ways of doing things … Instead, you criminalise them. More restrictions will not stop people from coming,” he says.
Neocosmos sees this as an abandonment of the internationalist perspective by the ruling party, contending that this moves South Africa into isolation on the continent.
“The ANC had an internationalist perspective. It stood up officially in its rhetoric and in its statements for oppressed peoples. They had an internationalist perspective, but now they seem to deny people their basic rights to organise and engage in political activity, which is the complete opposite. It’s denying internationalism, it’s throwing internationalism under the bus and it shows that there is a core of chauvinism and xenophobia at the heart of the ANC,” he says.
Neocosmos says the amendments will cause more administration and make life even more difficult for refugees and asylum seekers, which is the intention.
“The legislation has always been there, it’s just harassing people. That’s another way of instituting legislation to throw people out … The legislation has always been one to build a fortress around South Africa,” he says.
Tough criteria
Qoza says there are criteria an asylum seeker must satisfy to be granted refugee status: They must prove that they are persecuted on particular grounds, including religion, culture and tribe, with the option to appeal if denied.
“Even if your country has a law against something, you must still … evidence that you as an individual have been targeted. That applies to all [criterion] including political violence, LGBTQIA+ … For example, not all regions in the DRC are at war. Those [in areas of] war must still show that [their] life is directly at risk … That is how the international law operates and we are using it along those lines,” he says.
Qoza says this does not apply to those in the country such as academics or sportspeople, “it only applies to people who came here saying that their lives are in danger and they need protection”.
Sibanda says this approach is a misinterpretation of the Refugees Act, because it assumes you must be directly affected by a disturbance in your country or that you are seeking asylum because you are fighting with your government.
People are running because their governments are not able to protect them from Islamist groups in Nigeria and opposition group Renamo in northern Mozambique, for instance, he says.
“There has always been Renamo in that particular area. Those people who run, run away because of the brutalisation that takes place because of the disagreements between the government and Renamo,” he says.
In a country like Uganda or Kenya, where you can be arrested based on your sexual orientation, or your family arrested for knowing about your preference and not turning you in, it would surely be a tangible fear that you can be persecuted at any time and should be afforded protection.
“They are trying to deal with broader issues. But the way they are trying to go about it, they are preventing people that could have genuine problems, and that is where the biggest concern is,” says Sibanda.
Qoza says that, hypothetically, if a refugee or asylum seeker needed to access documents through their embassy, that asylum seeker would have to alert the home affairs department. They could also make representations to the government if they had sought refuge in South Africa but wanted to participate in the political processes of their country of origin.
Work restrictions
The department of small business development will introduce new laws aimed at restricting the sectors in which refugees and asylum seekers can work following the landmark Watchenuka case, which set parameters on refugee affairs relating to employment while waiting for their status to be declared.
Motsoaledi has said that this caused problems on the labour front, including employers citing the judgment when hiring undocumented immigrants. He has previously claimed in Parliament that 95% of asylum seekers were in fact looking to come to South Africa to seek employment rather than refugee status.
Matenga takes issue with the restrictions on work, saying this will cripple those coming into South Africa.
“Their work is their work. We have no refugee camps in South Africa. So, the only way for them to survive is for them to find work, because they are not afforded assistance,” he says.
Unisa law professor Babatunde Fagbayibo says many countries make use of a local content policy, including Nigeria and Zimbabwe, but that this was not the way to deal with immigration as it made the issue worse without addressing challenges. He attributed the amendments to the securitisation of South Africa, which he says sees itself inside of Africa, but not of Africa.
“There is a sense of othering. South Africa is becoming more nationalistic and this is the foreign policy that is in line with it … It is a schizophrenic foreign policy in which democracy is only respected inside the country. Anything over the Limpopo River, and South Africa looks the other way,” he says.
Interested parties had 13 business days from June 29 2018, when the suggested changes were first published, to comment. Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa media officer Abigail Dawson says the lobby group advocated consistently against the amendments from the time they were drafted, dubbing them a big step away from the progressive 2008 Refugees Act.
“These amendments will enforce much more restrictive avenues … and additional procedural processes for protection, which are unrelated to the protection of refugees and asylum seekers … while denying fundamental rights to work and study,” she says.
Qoza says the department is open to people coming into the country, provided they do so using the appropriate channels and declare their true intentions.
“We need to make sure that people who get in are people who qualify for the status that they are applying for, or else they must apply for a permit which accords with what [they] want to do when in South Africa,” he says.
www.samigration.com