03/08/2014 03:00:00 STORIES By Teetee Zwane – Swazi Observer
The South African High Commission in Swaziland will have no role to play in assisting Swazis meet the new immigration regulations regarding travelling with children, says the SA department of home affairs.
Single parents wishing to travel to South Africa with their children may face difficulties unless they are the only registered parent on the child’s birth certificate.
According to the new South African immigration regulations, parents travelling internationally with children would now be requested to provide an unabridged birth certificate (including the details of the child’s father as well as the mother) of all travelling children.
This applies even when both parents are travelling with their children and it also applies to foreigners and South Africans alike. When children are travelling with guardians, these adults are required to produce affidavits from parents proving permission for the children to travel. The unabridged birth certificate applications can take anything from six to eight weeks to complete.
“The requirements for travelling with children will be implemented from October 1, 2014,” confirmed Advocate Tsietsi Sebelemetja, South African Department of Home Affairs Directorate: Legal Services. Asked how the South African High Commission would assist – for instance single parents – especially in cases where the other parent was uncooperative or inaccessible for the necessary documentation, he said the SA High Commission had no role to play in the matter.
“Where one parent is registered as the only parent (mother), as RSA we will have no right to ask where the father is, but will require consent where two parents (father and mother) are registered,” added Sebelemetja.
Ministry of Home Affairs Principal Secretary Anthony Masilela said by virtue of Swaziland and South Africa working together in a lot of aspects, the neighbouring country had afforded the courtesy of informing government about the new immigration regulations.
He, however, said by being given the new legislation, South Africa was not asking for their opinions but informing the Swaziland authorities about it.
“South Africa does not have a law against human trafficking, so in fighting this criminal act it saw the need to strengthen its immigration laws and since children are the most trafficked because of their vulnerability, I think this is why they have introduced these travelling regulations,” he said.
Masilela said the regulations were a positive development in trying to address human trafficking, especially of children.
He acknowledged though that the new regulations would impact on Swazis, in terms of doing things differently. Meanwhile, Sebelemetja said for those Swazis who currently held study permits and temporary residence visas, the new regulations would not affect them.
However, the advocate said all persons who were on valid permits in South Africa would have to renew such when the extension or renewal period came (60 days before expiry) at the Visa Facilitation Service Centres.
On whether the SA High Commission was adequately equipped and had the capacity to deal with additional cases that might be brought about due to the new regulations, Sebelemetja said the High Commission had been established to deal with applications coming through, and “the Mission will have to deal with such applications”.
Miners won’t be affected
Swazis working in South African mines will not be affected by the new immigration regulations that have been implemented by the neighbouring country.
Concerns have been raised by some locals following the introduction of the new regulations, especially with the addition of a new category, the ‘critical skills’ work visa.
Advocate Tsietsi Sebelemetja, South African Department of Home Affairs Directorate: Legal Services, said miners currently working under bilateral agreements between their countries and South Africa would not be affected by the new legislation.
“The miners working on bilateral agreements (under corporate visas) will not individually be affected as such if they are currently on valid authorisation certificates,” he said.
Sebelemetja said, however, their employers would have to apply for the necessary visa when the current ones expired in order to employ such miners.
South Africa has agreements for the mining industry between itself and select Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries; Mozambique, Lesotho, Botswana, Swaziland and Malawi.
The bilateral agreements enable South African mining companies to recruit foreign workers from these SADC countries to fill labour shortages as well as transfer knowledge and skills.
Bilateral treaties between South Africa and neighbouring states date back decades and govern the entry of mine and farm workers to South Africa from Mozambique, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland.
The treaties provide that recruitment of labour is subject to the availability of South African labour. The most common categories of workers regulated by these treaties are lower-skilled mineworkers (grades one to eight) and farm workers, although they are also used to regulate the entry and stay of skilled contract workers.
Under the new immigration regulations which came into effect on May 26, 2014 – regardless of which type of work visa is being applied for – there is now a little more onus on the employer as they must sign an undertaking for all repatriation costs as well as ensuring that the employee has a valid passport at all times.
For corporate visas, companies can apply for any number of visas provided they fulfil the conditions of the defined labour market test and ensure that the local staff complement will never be less than 60%. However, the visa conditions and permitted period of stay differ for foreigners entering South Africa in terms of a bilateral agreement or for employment in the mining or construction sectors.
Once the corporate visa employees have been recruited, employed and obtained their visa, there are also a number of obligations that the employer needs to be able to meet:
Foreign employees passports are kept valid at all times;
That the foreigner only conducts work in a position that the visa was issued for;
That the foreigner departs South Africa upon completion of his/her contract; and
They immediately inform the department of home affairs if the foreigner is not compliant with the immigration and visa rules.
The new travelling regulations
The new South African immigration regulations concerning travelling with children are as follows:
Regulation 6: (12)
(a) Where parents are travelling with a child, such parents must produce an unabridged birth certificate of the child reflecting the particulars of the parents of the child.
(b) In the case of one parent travelling with a child, he or she must produce an unabridged birth certificate and –
(i) consent in the form of an affidavit from the other parent registered as a parent on the birth certificate of the child authorising him or her to enter into or depart from the Republic with the child he or she is travelling with;
(ii) a court order granting full parental responsibilities and rights or legal guardianship in respect of the child, if he or she is the parent or legal guardian of the child; or
(iii) where applicable, a death certificate of the other parent registered as a parent of the child on the birth certificate; provided that the Director-General may, where the parents of the child are both deceased and the child is travelling with a relative or another person related to him or her or his or her parents, approve such a person to enter into or depart from the Republic with such a child.
(c) Where a person is travelling with a child who is not his or her biological child, he or she must produce-
(i) a copy of the unabridged birth certificate of the child;
(ii) an affidavit from the parents or legal guardian of the child confirming that he or she has permission to travel with the child;
(iv) copies of the identity documents or passports of the parents or legal guardian of the child; and
(v) the contact details of the parents or legal guardian of the child, provided that the Director-General may, where the parents of the child are both deceased and the child is travelling with a relative or another person related to him or her or his or her parents, approve such a person to enter into or depart from the Republic with such a child.
(d) Any unaccompanied minor shall produce to the immigration officer –
(i) proof of consent from one of or both his or her parents or legal guardian, as the case may be, in the form of a letter or affidavit for the child to travel into or depart from the Republic: provided that in the case where one parent provides proof of consent, that parent must also provide a copy of a court order issued to him or her in terms of which he or she has been granted full parental responsibilities and rights in respect of the child;
(ii) a letter from the person who is to receive the child in the Republic, containing his or her residential address and contact details in the Republic where the child will be residing;
(iii) a copy of the identity document or valid passport and visa or permanent residence permit of the person who is to receive the child in the Republic; and
(iv) the contact details of the parents or legal guardian of the child