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New Zealand issues timeline for resumption of visa processing Immigration New Zealand has outlined the way forward for the restart of its visa processing services.

Many South African families have been forced to live apart for up to a year now as a result of New Zealand’s extended border closure and the halting of its visa issuing processes.
There is however good news on the horizon for South Africans who have been desperately trying to get to New Zealand. The country’s immigration department has revealed a timeline for the expected dates of its visa processing restart.
For several years, New Zealand was one of only a few countries that South Africans were able to travel to with visa-free access. The New Zealand government ended visa-free entry to South African nationals when it implemented a visa regime for South Africans in January 2017.
Since then, South Africans have been required to obtain visitor visas prior to travelling to the “Land of the Long White Cloud”.
CLOSURE OF SA VISA PROCESSING CENTRE
New Zealand’s borders have been closed since March 2020 in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19 infections in the country by prohibiting entry to individuals from outside of its borders.
While New Zealand has not been receiving visitors or issuing visas, it came to the attention of Immigration New Zealand that visa processing could be done in New Zealand. To save costs, the Immigration New Zealand (INZ) decided to close its visa processing centres in three locations: South Africa, India and the Philippines.
RESTART OF NEW ZEALAND VISA PROCESSING
According to Imagine Immigration, a migration company specialising in migration assistance to Australia and New Zealand, senior officials at Immigration New Zealand have outlined the following timeframe for the resumption of visa processing:
• Visitor visas from July 2021;
• Student and partnership temporary visas from October 2021; and
• All resident class visas within 12 to 18 months.
PRESSURE TO PRIORITISE SPLIT FAMILIES
Imagine Immigration also stated that there is pressure on the New Zealand government to allow entry to families who have been separated for lengthy periods of time due to New Zealand’s border closure and the halting of visa issuing.
It is believed that priority will be given to those whose visas had been approved when the country shut its borders, where a partner or parent is already living in New Zealand. Next in line will be those who did not have visas when the border closed, but who have a partner or parent in New Zealand.
www.samigration.com

COVID liability: What to do when COVID-19 strikes your hotel or guesthouse

While accommodation establishments grapple with record low occupancy levels, slow recovery, and health and safety protocols, there is another worry looming in the background – how do you protect yourself from potential COVID-19 litigation? Is an accommodation establishment liable if a guest falls ill? And what steps can an establishment take to make sure they are never on the wrong side of a negligence claim?
Insurers offer cover for pretty much any incident, accident or sudden illness on your property; they no longer offer liability cover for COVID-related cases – leaving clients vulnerable to a potential lawsuit.
What then can operators, guesthouses, lodges, hotels and B&Bs do to mitigate their risk during a global pandemic that may well become endemic?
According to corporate, commercial and contract attorney, Stefan de Beer, in a negligence claim, business owners will need to show that they took all reasonable steps to protect their patrons and guests from COVID-19 – but that burden of proof rests with the claimant.
“Negligence comes down to an objective test,” says De Beer. “What would the reasonable person in your position do? This is not someone who is an expert, or someone who has endless resources. It’s someone with similar access to resources, information and experience as you have: what would they do? The rule of thumb is that he who alleges must prove. If someone alleges that you are negligent, they must prove that allegation. Keeping records of all efforts made and information around the events in question will, however, only make it easier to disprove allegations of negligence.”
Any successful claim of negligence will come down to an intentional or negligent breach of duty of care. You can minimise the possibility of litigation by following a few key steps:
1. Update your paperwork
Have you updated your contracts and terms and conditions to meet post-COVID traveller needs? Your contract – and related T&Cs – will be your first line of defence against possible litigation. There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution as every business is different, so look carefully at your own situation and consider:
• Your refund policy if a guest’s stay is impacted by a COVID incident out of their control.
• Waiving penalty fees due to travel bans/travel restrictions out of a guest’s control.
• How to deal with penalty clauses, for example, if a guest is turned away at the airport due to fever (i.e. fails medical screening).
• A provision in your T&Cs that guests/participants are obliged to undergo testing and remove themselves from the tour/group until a negative test result is received.
• Disclaimers/indemnities that offer a layer of protection against COVID claims – if standard, reasonable measures are taken to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
Once you have looked carefully at your own business’s operational needs and formulated your T&Cs, it is important to get an attorney to assist you in finalising the contract.
1. Follow strict health and safety protocols
The National Disaster Management Act lays out certain regulations around gatherings, social-distancing, curfews, testing, self-isolation, quarantine and the wearing of masks. This is law and has to be followed. In addition, the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) has a comprehensive list of health and safety guidelines in place – and these demonstrate that that you are taking all precautions necessary against COVID-19.
While the TBCSA guidelines are not legal requirements, if you have made the pledge that you will follow the protocols – and you have received your stamp of certification that confirms you are compliant – you are bound to the protocols. In other words, if you portray your business as fully compliant, then you can be held liable if found negligent in your duty of care.
1. Have a plan of action
Imagine the scenario; a guest arrives at your guesthouse displaying COVID symptoms, or arrives symptom-free but has received word en-route that they have been exposed to a close family who has just tested positive for COVID-19. Do you have a plan of action?
According to the law, anyone displaying symptoms, or who was within an enclosed space for more than 15 minutes with a COVID-positive individual without PPE, must isolate.
This means isolating guests in their room, providing room service, access to COVID testing, access to medical care if necessary, and PPE (including a medical kit with pulse oximeter if possible). Ensure that you have developed a good relationship with your local health authority – and know exactly whom to call for testing and support. SATIB clients have the added benefit of just calling SATIB24 Crisis Call, who will guide you through any protocol.
1. Draw up SOPs
A standard operating procedure (SOP) is a great way to ensure that all staff know the process – and their responsibilities – should a COVID-19 incident occur. An SOP leaves no room for interpretation and describes the necessary steps to take (in accordance with government regulations) should a guest fall ill.
An operator or establishment can draw up SOPs to cover (for example):
• Health screening and recording keeping,
• Steps to take if a guest arrives displaying COVID symptoms,
• Steps to take if a guest comes down with symptoms during their stay,
• Steps to take if a member of staff becomes ill/displays symptoms, and
• Steps to take if a guest refuses to follow agreed protocols (for example, wearing a mask in public).
1. Enforce COVID-compliant behaviour
But an SOP is not worth the paper it is written on if it is not followed to the letter. Model COVID-compliant behaviour, ensure that each and every staff member follows your agreed protocols – and ask your guests to do the same. No one is exempt from wearing masks in public areas, for example; it is the law. Have it clear in your contract, T&Cs, check-in information – and signage around your establishment.
www.samigration.com

Scalabrini’s ‘abandonment’ court case challenges constitutionality of South African refugee laws

Scalabrini Centre in Court seeking an interdict against the Department of Home Affairs, in first step to challenging the constitutionality of the Refugee Amendment Act’s ‘deemed abandonment’ provisions.
On 28 October 2020, the Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town, represented by Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa Inc, is in the Western Cape High Court, seeking to interdict the Department of Home Affairs from implementing or operating specific provisions related to the deemed abandonment of asylum applications, which provisions were implemented with the coming into effect of the Refugees Amendment Act and Regulations from 1 January 2020.
Scalabrini Centre, in its own right as well as in the public interest, has brought a constitutional challenge against certain provisions in the Refugees Amendment Act and Refugees Regulations, which came into effect on 1 January 2020. The specific provisions being challenged are those relating to the ‘deemed abandonment’ of asylum applications simply because the asylum applicant is a month or more late in renewing their asylum document. In this challenge, Scalabrini Centre has first sought an interdict against the Department of Home Affairs, stopping the Department from implementing or applying the specific provisions. This interdict is to ensure that anyone who may have, or might still, fall foul of those provisions is protected against refoulement pending the final hearing of the main matter – the constitutional challenge of the impugned provisions.
Today, 28 October 2020, Scalabrini Centre is in court to argue why the interdict is necessary pending the finalisation of the main matter. The Department of Home Affairs has opposed the interdictory relief being sought by Scalabrini Centre. It has also opposed the constitutional challenge.
For more on the main challenge, see below.
www.samigration.com

Cape Town hailed as one of the world’s 50 best places to work from remotely

The Bo-Kaap in Cape Town. The fact that the city is ‘chock-full of colourful markets and quirky neighbourhoods’ makes it a drawcard for digital natives, says Big 7 Travel.
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With more people working from home indefinitely because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the option to work from anywhere in the world has never been as enticing as it is now.
With this in mind, Big 7 Travel has released a list of the 50 best places to work from remotely in 2021 — and the Mother City has made the cut.
Coming in at number 42, Cape Town made the travel website’s list by virtue of its atmosphere, scenery and community of expats and nomads.
“Cape Town sometimes gets a bad rap for its droughts, iffy Wi-Fi and occasional safety concerns. However, it still manages to reel in digital nomads by the thousands,” states Big 7 Travel’s website.
“Despite having a few drawbacks, Cape Town boasts an incredibly connected expat and digital nomad scene from all corners of the globe. The scenery doesn’t hurt, either. Situated right on the water, surrounded by mountains and chock-full of colourful markets and quirky neighbourhoods, Cape Town is all about the atmosphere.”
The team from Big 7 Travel used variables such as affordability, internet access, cool co-working spaces, expat friendly communities and regulations that make it easy for digital nomads to work from a different country to make their final selection.
Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, came in first, largely due to a visa the country has put in place that offers digital nomads the opportunity to work remotely within Estonia for up to a year. The cost of living is also relatively low, according to the list, and with 99% of public services available online, internet access is a charm.
Tbilisi in Georgia grabbed second place, owing to its rich cultural offering, funky co-working spaces and a remote-worker visa to qualifying individuals.
Apart from Berlin, at sixth, the top 10 places on the list were dominated by countries in Eastern Europe, the Caucus region, Asia and Latin America.
The top 10 best places for remote working in 2021, according to Big 7 Travel:
1. Tallinn, Estonia
2. Tbilisi, Georgia
3. Belgrade, Serbia
4. Bali, Indonesia
5. Chiang Mai, Thailand
6. Berlin, Germany
7. Singapore
8. Buenos Aires, Argentina
9. Hanoi, Vietnam
10. Ljubljana, Slovenia
www.samigration.com

What is a Notarial Contract and why do I need one for a Life Partner Visa?

“The notarial contract is a formal agreement entered into by a South African citizen/permanent resident and a foreign partner, notarised by a South African notary, setting out the details of their rights and privileges in terms of their relationship. There is no standard format for this notarial contract and each one will be unique according to the party’s particular requirements and circumstances.”- Louwrens Koen
The reason for notarial contract is to show proof that your relationship with your partner has exceeded a period of 2 years and to prove that your relationship is valid indeed. This is presented in the form of a sworn affidavit and a notarial contract which is included with your application for a life partner visa.
The cost in South Africa to consult and draft a notarial contract is roughly going to cost about R1200.
Please note under the new immigration regulations that it’s a requirement to prove that you have been in a relationship with your partner for at least 2 years or more in order for the South African Embassy to award you with a life partner visa.
Make use of our free assessment to find out whether you are eligible to apply for the life partner visa!
www.samigration.com

Why using an Immigration Consultancy is absolutely Vital

Whoever said that immigration is a piece of cake clearly paid an arm and a leg for the slice. The immigration process is incredibly case specific to the point that if it is not handled properly, it can immediately end with a negative outcome. Today, we discuss the reasons why you, as a person or as an organisation, should make use of an immigration consultancy for all the nitty gritty details that the immigration process has to offer.
Immigration is not going to happen overnight. In fact, there is a common misconception that in a couple of weeks, one can pack up all their stuff and head out the door to a better life. Immigration takes months – and more often than not – years to achieve. Just the documentation collection stage alone can take a few months due to the number of documents required to even be considered for this type application. And that’s all assuming that you have the correct, up to date document list for all the necessary pieces of information requested by a foreign government.
Before one takes on the task of dusting off their old certificates and papers, one will first have to determine whether or not they are even eligible for immigration. With differences in tertiary education levels from country to country, correct working experience and language proficiency to name a few, you want to know where you stand prior to actually starting an application. Where one can spend a large amount of money in Portugal or Malta to obtain a permanent residence status, a country like Australia or Canada could have a completely different (and more accessible) process for obtaining permanent residence.
It’s important to have yourself assessed before you even look at spending money, as you may very well qualify for a route that you hadn’t even thought of. This is where immigration consultancies come into play. The consultancy will review your specifics (work experience, education, age, marital status, etc.) and then determine where your best options lie.
Scam artists and frauds have plagued the Immigration Industry for decades and in the modern era this has not changed so one must ensure that whoever they are talking to is a credible and confirmed source. Note, a legitimate agency should NEVER charge you for verifying your basic information and assessing your eligibility. A transaction will only become applicable IF you are eligible and IF you so choose to use the services offered, keep an eye out for organisations and individuals who attempt to take advantage of your naivety and try to make a fast buck out of you.
No matter how serious a query may or may not be regarding immigration, rather talk to a certified and legitimate consultancy. Immigration is no walk in the park, with most interest being based on goals for personal growth or for a household the last thing anyone wants is to end up with a negative outcome and waste of resources. Why not rather enlist the professional services of an agency that shares the same values?
Sa Migration International ( SAMI – Sa Migration ) – Is a registered Immigration Practitioner recognised the Department of Home Affairs , a member of FIPSA – Forum of Immigration Practitioners , a SAQA recognised organisation and we enjoy a high level of cooperation with the Department of Trade and Industry ( DTI ) as well as the Department of Labour ( DOL )
www.samigration.com

Home affairs extends visas that expired in lockdown

Home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi has issued directions extending the validity period of legally issued visas that expired during the Covid-19 lockdown period.
This is to end-June for short-term visas “issued for a period not longer than 90 days, such as a tourist visa”.
The validity of longer-term temporary visas (issued for three months to three years), is until end-July.
“Holders of such visas are permitted to remain in the country under the conditions of their visas until the expiry of their applicable extension. Those wishing to be repatriated to their countries within this period can depart without being declared undesirable persons,” said the ministry.
The extension does not apply to people who entered the country from March 15. In these cases, the normal validity period applies.
Holders of longer-term temporary visas such as a study visa, treaty visa, business visa, medical treatment visa, relative’s visa, general work visa, critical skills work visa, retired person’s visa and exchange visa, which expired during the lockdown can apply to renew their visas at www.vfsglobal.com/dha/southafrica before July 31.
Refugee reception centres remain closed. The validity of asylum and refugee permits has been extended until June 30.
www.samigration.com

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