Browsing "Research Permit"

Migration is the storm after the climate disaster, but it can be reined in

WhatsApp Image 2021-10-21 at 12.52.30
Migration is the storm after the climate disaster, but it can be reined in
27 October 2021 – Sunday Times
Swift action could curtail the current projection of internal displacement by 80%
Climate change effects such as drought and sea-level rise could result in more than 216-million people migrating within their own countries by mid-century, according to a World Bank report released this week.

As much as 80% of that could be prevented with swift action to cut emissions, the report found. Countries have to “close development gaps, restore vital ecosystems and help people adapt”, World Bank vice-president for sustainable development Juergen Voegele wrote. If they don’t, “hotspots of climate migration will emerge as soon as within the next decade and intensify by 2050”..
www.samigration.com

Zimbabweans ask Gauteng High Court to declare them permanent residents

concourt
27 Oct 2021 – Groundup –

Not an unexpected move as their exemption permits granted by Home Affairs expire in December.

Zimbabweans say they have a legitimate expectation of being granted permanent residence once their exemption permits expire next month.

The Zimbabwean Exemption Permit Holders Association, representing roughly 250 000 Zimbabweans in SA, has asked the Gauteng High Court to declare them permanent residents, as their Zimbabwe Exemption Permits expire in December 2021.*
They are also asking the court to direct the Minister of Home Affairs to issue them with SA ID documents on the grounds that they are permanent residents of SA in terms of the Immigration Act read together with the Identification Act.
They are also asking the court to review and set aside the decision by Home Affairs not to renew residency permits “knowing that the holders of the permit have known no other home besides South Africa for more than 10 years”.
This decision was unconscionable, irrational, unreasonable and unconstitutional, according to the court papers.
Zimbabwean Exemption Permit holders have a constitutional right to an equal path to citizenship in SA, and that right is being withheld, the association says.
Permit evolution
In April 2009, cabinet approved what was known as the Dispensation of Zimbabweans Project (DZP), allowing permit holders to work, conduct business and study in SA.
According to Home Affairs, 295 000 Zimbabweans applied for the permit and just over 245 000 were issued.
This was an attempt to regularise the residence status of those Zimbabweans residing illegally in SA due to political and economic instability at home.
Those permits started expiring in December 2014, prompting Home Affairs to introduce a new permit scheme called the Zimbabwean Special Dispensation Permits (ZSPs), which were valid for three years.
Nearly 198 000 ZSPs were issued, according to the Department of Home Affairs. When the ZSPs expired in 2017 they were replaced by Zimbabwean Exemption Permits, or ZEPs.
These permits, like their predecessor, allowed Zimbabweans to work, study and conduct business in SA, but were not renewable and did not entitle the holder to apply for permanent residence in SA.
According to papers before the court, these permits were issued in terms of Section 31 of the Immigration Act which allows the Minister of Home Affairs to grant foreigners the rights of permanent residence for a “specified or unspecified period when special circumstances exist” that justify the decision.
The applicants in the case say the ZEP is a permanent residence permit valid for a specific period of time as allowed by the Immigration Act, and that they are therefore entitled to ID documents.
‘Legitimate expectation’
“It is further submitted that the holders of Zimbabwean Exemption Permits have a legitimate expectation for the renewal of their current permit, and for permanent residence, without any further conditions, and the right to apply for citizenship in the Republic of South Africa.”
According to Advocate Simba Chitando, who is representing the applicants in the case: “The problem faced by many hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans in SA is that they have been here for 10 years or longer under a variety of different permits, and it is generally conceded that they make a huge contribution to the SA economy, yet these permits do not allow them to enjoy the benefits that come with permanent residence, such as full access to banking facilities, or the right to accumulate pension savings.
“We argue that it is past time to grant permanent residence to those Zimbabweans who have been living and working in SA in a kind of no-man’s land. We believe it is reasonable to expect to be granted permanent residence when the ZEPs expire, which they do in December 2021.

www.samigration.com

How can a mother with an expired visa register her children?

WhatsApp Image 2021-10-21 at 12.52.33
Groundup – 27 October 2021
The short answer
There are a few possible options, but the best route may be to get legal help.
The whole question
My girlfriend is from Zimbabwe. Her visa has expired but her passport is still valid. She and her children (aged three and five) have been with me at my home for the last two years. Both children were born in South Africa but, for whatever reason, they were never issued with any registration papers – only the hospital card. We urgently need birth certificates or ID numbers for the children as the five-year-old needs to enrol in school. Currently they are both attending a registered creche that does not require any documents.
I have been in South Africa since 1984 and am a permanent resident with an ID number. I am prepared, with pleasure, to have the children under my name as we are living as a loving family. My girlfriend is worried about making noise at Home Affairs because of her visa status, even though we know that the Constitution guarantees an identification to every child born here regardless of the parents’ race, nationality or status.
Despite numerous attempts with Home Affairs, we have been unsuccessful. After queuing for four hours every time, we get mixed messages about what we need to do. The bribing option has been offered to us but we are law-abiding people and want to do this legally.
The long answer
Firstly, as the children were not registered within thirty days of birth, as is required by law, you would need to apply for late registration of birth. If it is after 1 year but before 15 years, you would need to give Home Affairs the following documents:
• A completed Form B1-24/1, together with written reasons why the birth wasn’t notified, and as many as possible of the following documents to confirm the child’s identity as are relevant, given their age:
1. A certificate from the hospital or maternity home where the child was born. The certificate must be signed by the person in charge, and contain the institution’s official stamp;
2. Official confirmation of the child’s personal details, extracted from the school register of the first school attended by the child. The confirmation must be on the school’s official letterhead, be signed by the principal, and contain the school’s official stamp. (This could refer also to the creche they presently attend.);
3. The child’s baptismal certificate – if relevant;
4. Sworn affidavits by the parents;
5. A clinic card.
There was a great constitutional victory for unmarried fathers on 22 September 2021, when the Constitutional Court declared Section 10 of the Births and Death Registration Act (BDRA) unconstitutional and ordered it to be deleted entirely from the BDRA. It was found to be unconstitutional because it did not allow unmarried fathers to register their children’s births in their name when the mother could not do so or was unwilling to do so, or when the mother could not be present. The judgment specifically mentioned the problem of undocumented mothers “…who live and give birth to children in South Africa and are unable to register the births of these children. Third, another difficulty arises as a result of the requirement that parents, who are non-South African citizens, must produce a certified copy of a valid passport or visa.”
All of the above left children without birth certificates.
The Centre for Child Law, which took the case to the Constitutional Court and was represented by Lawyers for Human Rights, said that children are vulnerable members of society who were even more vulnerable when they don’t have valid birth certificates because, not only could they be excluded from education, social assistance and health care but, crucially, could be excluded from access to their nationality and become stateless.
As you rightly said in your email, the Constitution guarantees the right of every child born here to an identity, and the 2021 court judgment means that this right must now be realised. The Constitutional Court found that it was not justified to distinguish between children born to married parents and children born to unmarried parents when it came to deciding what surname could be given to a child. Section 10 penalised children born to unmarried parents and was thus unconstitutional. Unmarried fathers will now be able to register their children under their surname, in the absence of the mother or without her consent.
But although this was a crucial victory for children and unmarried fathers, it will not solve your problem with Home Affairs as you are not the children’s biological father.
Given that the visa of your Zimbabwean girlfriend and mother of the children has expired, she obviously does not wish to expose herself to possible deportation by going to Home Affairs to do the late registration of birth for the children. It would seem that your choices are either to sort out her visa with Home Affairs, which may well be a difficult and lengthy process involving your girlfriend returning to Zimbabwe and re-applying for a visa from there, or to legalise your own relationship with the children. This could be by adopting them.
Adoption of South African children is done in terms of the Children’s Act, 2005 (Act 38 of 2005) and is administered by the Department of Social Development, while the notice of adoption must be recorded by Home Affairs in the birth registration of the children.
Under the Children’s Act, written consent to the adoption must be given by the parent or parents or legal guardian of the children. This consent (Form 61) must be signed in the presence of the presiding officer of the Children’s Court who will then attest to the signature. This written consent can be withdrawn by the person giving it within 60 days if they change their mind.
Alternately, if you were to marry your girlfriend to legalise your relationship with the children, the following documents would be required by Home Affairs to marry you, according to their website:
“On the day of the marriage a couple must present the following documents to the person officiating at the wedding:
• Identity documents (for each person getting married);
• If a foreign national is marrying a South African citizen, they should both present their valid passports as well as a completed BI-31 Form (Declaration for the Purpose of Marriage, Letter of no impediment);
• If any of the persons getting married are divorced, then the final decree of divorce should be furnished;
• If any of the persons getting married are widowed, the deceased spouse’s death certificate must be submitted.
Because these are all weighty matters, perhaps you should approach an organisation like Lawyers for Human Rights to advise on your best options, given their extensive experience in dealing with Home Affairs. They have a special statelessness unit in Johannesburg.
www.samigration.com

Refugees who arrived after lockdown have no way to apply for asylum

Refugees who arrived after lockdown have no way to apply for asylum

refugee
Refugees who arrived after lockdown have no way to apply for asylum

27 October 2021 – Groundup –

Asylum application backlog set to grow, with Refugee Reception Offices closed since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic

A Burundian asylum seeker shows his documentation which expired on paper a year ago. He has been in South Africa since 2009. He says he is struggling to renew his documents online.

Refugees who arrived in South Africa after March 2020 have had no way to apply for asylum status.

Accumulating new applications will put further pressure on attempts to clear an already huge backlog of asylum claims.
A UNHCR-funded joint project with Home Affairs to clear the backlog does not appear to be stopping the build-up of a new backlog.
The immigration system is also taking strain trying to process online renewals for people whose refugee status expired during the lockdown.
The closure of Refugee Reception Offices (RRO) since the Covid-19 lockdown last year has left asylum seekers vulnerable to arrest and deportation. The offices remain closed for new asylum applications and in-person renewal of permits that expired prior to March 2020.

“Many newcomer asylum seekers are therefore at risk of arrest, detention, deportation and are struggling to access basic services due to their lack of documentation,” said Attorney Jessica Lawrence, of Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR).

Lawrence said that during a recent meeting, a Home Affairs official said that newcomer asylum seekers should all have been issued with an asylum transit visa at the border, which would normally be extended by an immigration officer later.

“Asylum transit visas are only valid for five days. Though he did not say this, it was clear that he therefore deemed this as appropriate documentation for newcomer asylum seekers pending the re-opening of the RROs,” she said.

GroundUp was unable to get clarification from Home Affairs on asylum transit visas, when its RROs will reopen, and when it will start assisting new asylum seekers.

According to a 30 September circular sent to refugee organisations by the UN Refugee Agency South Africa Multi-country Office (SAMCO), Home Affairs has resumed permanent residence permit appeal applications from 1 October, and it will start processing permanent residence permit applications only from 1 January 2022.

It is unclear where this leaves refugees who arrived after March 2020.

Victor Chikalogwe of People Against Suffering, Oppression and Poverty (PASSOP) said thousands of people have arrived in the country since March 2020.

He said PASSOP has assisted about 200 newcomers to date. The organisation has been issuing “newcomer letters” since the closure of the Cape Town reception office in 2012.

He said the letter could be presented to law enforcement and immigration officers and basic service providers while the newcomer was raising money to travel to Pretoria, Durban or Musina to apply for asylum papers when these offices opened. “We thought newcomer numbers would decrease because of the pandemic but people are still coming,” he said.

Documented asylum seekers and refugees also at risk

All refugee permits that expired on or after the national state of disaster was declared in March 2020 are considered valid under a blanket extension until 31 December 2021, according to SAMCO. But many institutions, from banks to schools, do not seem to accept this when presented with expired documents.

Home Affairs activated an Online Renewal System in April 2021. By 8 September, it had extended 24,333 Section 24 (refugee status) and 69,185 Section 22 (asylum seeker permits), the department said in a statement.

“The extension applies to people who applied for waivers and holders of asylum seeker visas/permits or refugee status. 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 an undesirable person,” said Home Affairs.

The extension, however, does not apply to people who entered the country from 15 March 2021. The normal validity period of visas of people admitted into the country from 15 March 2021 applies,” said Home Affairs.

Chikalogwe said PASSOP has helped 75 people in September who never got responses after submitting their documents online for renewal. “The number of people seeking online renewal help is increasing. Last week, I served three people within a period of four hours.”

A volunteer at PASSOP, who asked not to be named, said he submitted his documents in June for online renewal and is still awaiting feedback. When he tried to resend his documents in July he received an email from the Port Elizabeth office saying, “Kindly refrain from sending multiple requests. The office will attend to your request immediately when it is open. It is currently closed due to Covid alert level 4.”

Huge backlog and growing

The non-processing of any new refugee applications since March 2020 could have serious implications for South Africa’s refugee response.

PASSOP and LHR are sceptical that Home Affairs will be able to clear the already massive backlog in South Africa’s asylum system from before the pandemic.

In March, Home Affairs, with US$9.6 million in assistance from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) launched the asylum backlog project to clear in four years what was going to take 70 years (at the department’s pace) to process.

Sarah-Jane Savage, from UNHCR, said the backlog clearance project started on 1 April. The current phase, the first, involved recruiting and training 37 new members for the appeal authority to add to Home Affairs’ existing three officers. The appeals of 153,391 people need to be heard.

It is therefore too soon to tell if the goal of clearing the backlog by 2024 will be achieved. The project was also meant to prevent another backlog building up in the meantime. It appears this is not happening.

The quality of decision-making on asylum cases by Home Affairs “is resulting in more people actually joining the backlog”, says the manager for LHR’s Refugee and Migrant Rights Programme, Sharon Ekambaram.

The LHR says it has seen an increase in rejections of people from Ethiopia and the DRC. Individual assessments appear not to be done. LHR is seeing Refugee Reception Officers simply duplicating the reasons they give for rejecting one person’s asylum claim on different individuals’ applications.

Hlengiwe Mtshatsha, attorney at LHR, said the backlog is building up again because asylum seekers are referred back to be re-interviewed every time the High Court on judicial review overturns a decision on their status.

Mtshatsha said that they have noticed that people who applied for permanent residency will get a notice of intention to withdraw their refugee status or in some cases a withdrawal notice. They have 30 days to appeal. After that, they lose their refugee status and are classified as “illegal foreigners”, and will be notified to leave South Africa within 14 days.

Chikalogwe said appeals against the withdrawal of refugee status were also piling up.

GroundUp has tried numerous times since 16 September to get clarity from Home Affairs on a number of issues addressed in this article, but to date no clarification has been forthcoming from the department.

www.samigration.com

Zimbabweans ask Gauteng High Court to declare them permanent residents

ethiopian-in-south-africa
Moneyweb – 21 Oct 2021

Not an unexpected move as their exemption permits granted by Home Affairs expire in November.

Zimbabweans say they have a legitimate expectation of being granted permanent residence once their exemption permits expire next month.
The Zimbabwean Exemption Permit Holders Association, representing roughly 250 000 Zimbabweans in SA, has asked the Gauteng High Court to declare them permanent residents, as their Zimbabwe Exemption Permits expire in November 2021.
They are also asking the court to direct the Minister of Home Affairs to issue them with SA ID documents on the grounds that they are permanent residents of SA in terms of the Immigration Act read together with the Identification Act.
They are also asking the court to review and set aside the decision by Home Affairs not to renew residency permits “knowing that the holders of the permit have known no other home besides South Africa for more than 10 years”.
This decision was unconscionable, irrational, unreasonable and unconstitutional, according to the court papers.
Zimbabwean Exemption Permit holders have a constitutional right to an equal path to citizenship in SA, and that right is being withheld, the association says.
Permit evolution
In April 2009, cabinet approved what was known as the Dispensation of Zimbabweans Project (DZP), allowing permit holders to work, conduct business and study in SA.
According to Home Affairs, 295 000 Zimbabweans applied for the permit and just over 245 000 were issued.
This was an attempt to regularise the residence status of those Zimbabweans residing illegally in SA due to political and economic instability at home.
Those permits started expiring in December 2014, prompting Home Affairs to introduce a new permit scheme called the Zimbabwean Special Dispensation Permits (ZSPs), which were valid for three years.
Nearly 198 000 ZSPs were issued, according to the Department of Home Affairs. When the ZSPs expired in 2017 they were replaced by Zimbabwean Exemption Permits, or ZEPs.
These permits, like their predecessor, allowed Zimbabweans to work, study and conduct business in SA, but were not renewable and did not entitle the holder to apply for permanent residence in SA.
According to papers before the court, these permits were issued in terms of Section 31 of the Immigration Act which allows the Minister of Home Affairs to grant foreigners the rights of permanent residence for a “specified or unspecified period when special circumstances exist” that justify the decision.
The applicants in the case say the ZEP is a permanent residence permit valid for a specific period of time as allowed by the Immigration Act, and that they are therefore entitled to ID documents.
‘Legitimate expectation’
“It is further submitted that the holders of Zimbabwean Exemption Permits have a legitimate expectation for the renewal of their current permit, and for permanent residence, without any further conditions, and the right to apply for citizenship in the Republic of South Africa
According to Advocate Simba Chitando, who is representing the applicants in the case: “The problem faced by many hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans in SA is that they have been here for 10 years or longer under a variety of different permits, and it is generally conceded that they make a huge contribution to the SA economy, yet these permits do not allow them to enjoy the benefits that come with permanent residence, such as full access to banking facilities, or the right to accumulate pension savings.
“We argue that it is past time to grant permanent residence to those Zimbabweans who have been living and working in SA in a kind of no-man’s land. We believe it is reasonable to expect to be granted permanent residence when the ZEPs expire, which they do in November 2021.”
www.smigration.com

Home affairs on skid row

Home affairs on skid row

Visa Picture1

The Citizen (Gauteng) – 21 October 2021
LEGAL ACTION: DELAYS OF MORE THAN 6 YEARS TO GET RESIDENCE PERMITS
➜ Immigration agents, clients expect the department to settle out of court.
No fewer than 180 would-be immigrants and their immigration services providers have hauled the department of home affairs to court for delays of six years and more in attempting to secure permanent residence permits.
The court documents say the applicants have several million US dollars to invest and possess critical skills that are sorely needed in the SA economy.
Some have been waiting more than six years for permanent residence as home affairs “has all but collapsed”, according to court papers. The delays in processing permanent residence applications is costing the economy R10-R15 billion a year.
Deposing for the applicants, Leon Isaacson, director of Global Migration Services, said he had been an immigration practitioner since 2007, at which time permanent residence applications were handled within six months.
This was because regional home affairs offices handled them. Then came a change. In 2010, then home affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma centralized permanent residence applications in the Pretoria national office, prolonging the process from six months to three years.
In 2015, VFS Global was brought on board and the application process was prolonged from three to six years. “The inordinate delay in processing permanent residence applications has led to a decision, being made by the department, not to accept any further permanent
R10-15bn annual cost to economy of failure to process residence permits. residence applications,” deposed Isaacson.
“This decision effectively deletes Section 25 of the Immigration Act, which provides for permanent residents permits. It has blocked millions of US dollars, together with essential skills, from being invested into the SA economy.”
The department has all but collapsed, added Isaacson. “Not only is it not receiving any more permanent residents applications, and not capable of processing the existing permanent residence applications it has received, it has decided to make its job even more impossible by reviewing every permanent residence permit it issued from 2004,” said Isaacson. “An impossible undertaking.”
As a result of these delays, the department has failed to deliver on its legislative mandate and the applicants are asking the court to intervene on their behalf. Isaacson added that the Covid-19 pandemic has also aggravated delays in the issuing of temporary residence visas inside South Africa for up to six months.
The permanent residence permit backlog has been building for a while, and Global Migration Services, one of several immigration services providers bringing the case on behalf of the would-be
immigrants, said it felt compelled to take the matter to court on behalf of 180 applicants who have been waiting for up to six years for their applications.
“It is highly prejudicial for long-term residents to be without permanent residence, as banking facilities, education, employment and related issues are dependent on this status,” said Isaacson.
He added that home affairs was likely to settle rather than go to court, having indicated it did not want more litigation.
There also appears to be a growing cleave between the office of the presidency, which favours opening SA’s economy to skilled immigrants, and the department of labour, which appears less than enthusiastic about hiring foreigners. Isaacson suggested that home affairs was caught in the middle of this rift and paralysed into inaction.
www.samigration.com

200 000 Zimbabweans Panic Over SA Work Permits

ethiopian-in-south-africa
200 000 Zimbabweans Panic Over SA Work Permits

20 October 2021 – Zimeye
By A Correspondent- Almost 200 000 diasporans using Zimbabwean Special Dispensation permits (ZSDP) in South Africa have been unsettled by the host country’s delays in renewing their visas.
The Zimbabweans under the ZSDP facility acquired their documents in 2010. They were renewed in 2014 and 2017.
Indications are that the documents will expire on December 31, thus the need for renewal.
Zimbabwe Community in SA chairperson Ngqabutho Mabhena said they were still waiting for the South African Home Affairs minister Pakishe Aaron Motsoaledi to announce the way forward on the permits.
“We had hoped that they would announce it this September, but we are now drawing close to the end of the month. Traditionally, they announce before mid-September. The permit application process normally begins from October 1 to December 31. This was the case in 2010, 2014 and 2017,” Mabhena said.
“We will be contacting the SA Home Affairs ministry to find out what is happening during the course of this week. We are also receiving reports of financial institutions like banks which are asking people to update their accounts since their passports will be expiring or their permits coming to an end.”
Mabhena said the Zimbabwe Community in SA and the African Diaspora Forum were working with the Zimbabwean embassy on the issue.
“In 2010, 295 000 people had applied for the permits and 245 000 of them were issued with permits. By 2017, we had 198 000 that had applied to renew their permits. Our desire is that the holders of the Zimbabwe special permits should be granted permanent resident permits,” he said.
A few weeks ago, the Zimbabwe consul-general to Johannesburg, Melody Chaurura, said the embassy was engaging South African authorities on the issue of special permits.
“We can, however, confirm that consultations on the issue have been underway among the relevant stakeholders in South Africa and the issue has since been submitted to Cabinet for decisions,” she said.
“In this regard, we continue to wait for pronouncements by the government’s competent authorities on the future of these permits. In the meantime, we encourage the holders of these permits to exercise patience and to be watchful for scams.”
South Africa is believed to be home to an estimated three million Zimbabweans; both irregular and regular immigrants.
www.samigration.com