Browsing "Study Permit"

Stuck in the endless Home Affairs queues

Stuck in the endless Home Affairs queues
Zululand Observer – 19 Oct 2018
With reference to the article entitled ‘Uncollected IDs cause problems at Home Affairs’ in last week’s ZO Weekender edition, did anyone question why this is such a huge problem?
If you are one of hundreds of Zululanders who queue at the offices daily, you will realise it is an absolute nightmare to pick up your ID or do anything for that matter at your local Home Affairs office.
Firstly, you need to take an entire day’s leave to pick up an ID. You cannot collect anything in your lunch break as the queues extend outside and onto the pavement.
There are no chairs or benches outside and no relief from the harsh Zululand heat.
People just sit for hours on the concrete floor, including children and senior citizens.
So, how are we supposed to collect IDs or conduct any business at a department where professional planning is obviously nonexistent?
If only there was another system where we all didn’t have to queue in one line and those who needed to collect IDs could do so separately.
Can that not be arranged so the 2 571 outstanding IDs can be picked up?
In the run-up to next year’s national general elections, there will be major backlogs for applications and collection of IDs resulting in longer queues.
Authorities should come up with a plan quickly so people can easily pick up their IDs without delay.

Everything You Should Know About the UK Transit Visa

4 October 2018
Travelling from South Africa via the United Kingdom and feeling a little confused about whether or not you need a transit visa? The frequent changes to visa and immigration policies have made travelling to and transiting through the UK a rather confusing affair even for the most seasoned travellers.
But this post will answer some of the frequently asked questions about the UK Transit Visa and hopefully shed some light on this widely misunderstood visa.
This information applies to South African passport holders.

Types of UK Transit Visas?
There are two types of transit visas for the United Kingdom:
A Direct Airside Transit Visa (DATV) is valid for 24 hours and does not allow you to pass through the UK Border Control (i.e. you must remain ‘airside’). This transit visa allows you to pass through the transit channels and requires that you depart from the same airport on the same day. The DATV is perfect if you are travelling to Europe and need to catch a connecting flight in the United Kingdom.
Find out more about the Direct Airside Transit Visa.
A Visitor in Transit Visa is valid for 48 hours and allows you to change terminals and pass through the UK Border Control. The Visitor in Transit visa is designed for travellers who need to re-check their luggage or catch a connecting flight at a different airport (e.g. If you land at Gatwick Airport and your onward flight departs from Heathrow Airport). You will only be allowed to stay in the UK for 48 hours.
Find out more about the Visitor in Transit Visa.

Who needs a UK Transit Visa?
You will need a transit visa if you have to pass through border control. You will pass through border control if:
• you leave the airport building for any reason
• you need to collect and re-check your luggage
• your connecting flight departs from a different airport
• your connecting flight departs on a different day to when you arrive
• there is nowhere for you to stay in the airport overnight
• you are transiting through the UK to get to Ireland
Note: You may need to re-check your luggage if you have connecting flights on different airlines.
If you want to leave the airport and visit friends or family, or just spend some time exploring the country, you can apply for a UK Visitor Visa.
Who does not need a UK Transit Visa?
You do not need a transit visa if you:
• have a valid visa for Australia, New Zealand, Canada, or the USA
• have a valid Visitor Visa or residency permit for the UK
Note: If you have a valid visa for Australia, New Zealand, Canada, or the USA and your final destination is one of those countries, or you are simply transiting through them to get to another country, you will not need a transit visa. You will, however, need to be departing on the same day and have proof of an onward flight and all the relevant documents. This is known as “Transit Without Visa”.

How much is a UK Transit Visa?
Direct Airside Transit visa – about R659 (£35)
Visitor in Transit visa – about R1,205 (£64)
How long is a UK Transit Visa valid for?
Transit visas for the UK are usually valid for 6 months and allow multiple entries as long as your future trips meet the same criteria as the original transit trip (e.g. you cannot leave the airport if you were granted a Direct Airside Transit Visa). You will also be allowed to do a reverse journey with the visa (i.e. the same visa can be used on your return trip).

How to apply for a UK Transit Visa?
The application process for a UK Transit Visa is the same as the UK Visitor Visa. It is done online through the GOV.UK website.
You will need to:
• fill in the application form and answer in English
• pay the visa fee online
• print out your completed application form
• book and attend your appointment at a visa application centre
Find a visa application centre
For the UK Transit Visa application, you will need:
• A valid passport
• A flight booking (email or copy of tickets)
• A valid visa for the country for which you are departing the UK
Need assistance with your visa? Get a free visa quote from our expert partners at Visa Box!

We hope this cleared up some of the confusion surrounding the UK Transit Visa. Now, all that’s left to do is book your flights and get ready to live out your travel dreams!
If you are worried about your visa being rejected and losing your money on flights, you might be interested in our Visa Denied Service. It offers a full refund of airfare and taxes if your visa is denied.

Victory for asylum seekers in Constitutional Court – Judicial Review

13 October 2018 Groundup
Court rules on extension of temporary permits

The Constitutional Court has ruled that asylum seekers’ temporary permits must automatically be extended while their case is being reviewed. Archive photo: Ashraf Hendricks
In an important victory for the rights of asylum seekers, the Constitutional Court has found that their temporary permits must automatically be extended while their case is under judicial review.
South Africa is home to at least 400,000 asylum seekers and refugees. An asylum seeker is someone who claims, in an application to the Department of Home Affairs, to have fled from a place where they have been persecuted or where they are in danger. A refugee is someone who has been granted asylum either by government or a court.
Before asylum seekers get official refugee status they are granted a temporary permit which allows them to remain in the country until their application has been dealt with. Official refugee status can often take time and many applications are rejected.
When an application is rejected, an asylum seeker can go through an internal appeal, up to the Refugee Appeals Board. If that too fails, he or she can take the matter on judicial review in the High Court. During this time, the Refugees Act allows a Refugee Reception Officer to extend the asylum seeker’s temporary permit from time to time.
The question that arises is: up to what point is such an extension allowed? And is the extension automatic or does a Refugee Reception Officer have the discretion to refuse an extension?
Background
The case before the Constitutional Court was brought by several asylum seekers from Cape Town whose applications for official refugee status had been rejected. They were represented by the Legal Resources Centre. After exhausting internal appeals, they applied for an extension of their temporary permits pending judicial review. The extension was not granted.
The High Court found that a Refugee Reception Officer does have the discretion to extend a permit pending judicial review. However, the Court found that the extension is not automatic but at the discretion of the officer.
The Supreme Court of Appeal largely upheld the decision of the High Court.
Home Affairs appealed to the Constitutional Court to rule that a Refugee Reception Officer can only extend a permit until internal remedies in terms of the Act have been exhausted.
The asylum seekers cross-appealed and wanted the Constitutional Court to go further than the Appeal Court decision and find that an extension is not only permitted but also automatic.
The Constitutional Court explained that two legal issues had to be addressed
• whether a Refugee Reception Officer has the power to extend a permit pending judicial review; and
• if so, whether an extension is automatic or whether the Refugee Reception Officer must exercise discretion.
Is there a power to extend pending judicial review?
At issue was the interpretation of the word “outcome” in the Act. Home Affairs argued that this referred to “the final administrative outcome” in terms of the Act.
The Act provides for two layers of appeal if an application for official refugee status has been rejected: first, asylum seekers may approach the Standing Committee for Refugee Affairs, and if this fails they may approach the Refugee Appeals Board. According to this logic, once this outcome is reached no further extensions are permissible. For this reason, the outcome of a judicial review of the decision of the Appeals Board wouldn’t qualify as an “outcome” in terms of the Act.
The court rejected this approach. Firstly, it emphasised that when courts interpret legislation they must do so in order to fulfil the key purpose of a piece of legislation.
And one of the key purposes behind refugee law, the court said, was to ensure that refugees are not returned to the circumstances from which they were seeking refuge. This means that “no one shall expel or return a refugee against his or her will, in any manner whatsoever, to a territory where he or she fears threats to life or freedom.”
Adopting the Home Affairs approach would mean that asylum seekers who have exhausted internal remedies in terms of the Act would be at risk of being deported, even if they were seeking refuge for valid reasons. It would be “cold-comfort” to argue that an asylum seeker would still have the option of approaching a court for interim protection: this could be unsuccessful for technical reasons, and anyway it would be expensive and impractical for an asylum seeker to institute legal proceedings once he or she had already been deported.
The Constitutional Court also emphasised that courts must prefer an interpretation of legislation that protects fundamental rights in terms of the Bill of Rights. If Home Affairs’s interpretation were adopted an asylum seeker’s rights to just administrative action, access to courts, life, human dignity, and freedom and security could be infringed.
For all these reasons, the court rejected Home Affairs’s interpretation and found that a Refugee Reception Officer does have the power to extend a permit, pending judicial review.
Is an extension automatic?
Here, the court found that the principle of “non-refoulement” — not sending a person back to a place where he or she would be in danger — would suggest that an extension must be automatic.
The court also said that if a Refugee Reception Officer did have discretion to refuse to extend a permit this would create a discrepancy in the Act. This is because the Act enables the Minister in certain prescribed circumstances to withdraw a permit but does not prescribe the circumstances under which a decision not to extend a permit may be made. Yet a refusal to extend a permit and the withdrawal of a permit have the same effect. The court found that it would not make sense that the Act gives more discretion to the Refugee Reception Officer than to the Minister. So the court found that the only interpretation that would make sense is that an extension is automatic and the Refugee Reception Officer has no discretion at all.
The court declared — with a minority of judges dissenting — that a Refugee Reception Officer does have the power to extend a permit pending judicial review and that such an extension is automatic. The court awarded costs against Home Affairs.
The case will strengthen the situation of thousands of asylum seekers who are in a precarious position without official refugee status. It reduces the possibility of unjustified deportations and ensures that South Africa complies with its international obligations to protect refugees from persecution and threats to their life and safety.

Ten-month visas to address seasonal worker shortages?

Jersey Post 14 Oct 2018
A NEW visa scheme to solve the recruitment crisis in the hospitality, agriculture and retail sectors could be announced within weeks, the JEP can reveal.
Non-EU nationals will be offered ten-month visas to work in the Island and must go back to their home country for at least two months before returning.
The labour shortages have been blamed on Brexit uncertainty for migrant workers, the falling value of the pound which has reduced the buying power of money earned in Jersey in their home countries and the strengthening economies of those countries. The move has been welcomed by those struggling to find staff. While the fine-print is yet to be finalised, Economic Development Minister Lyndon Farnham (pictured right) did confirm his intention to announce the plan ‘within weeks’.
He said: ‘What we have to do is find a way to ensure there is a supply of labour to industries that are currently suffering a shortage. It’s agriculture, tourism, retail and certain other sectors of the economy. We need to find a supply of labour without it having an unsustainable long-term effect on the overall population figure. The way we can do that is by offering a long annual work permit.’
Simon Soar from the Jersey Hospitality Association, which has previously spoken about an acute shortage of workers among members, says ten-month visas would make a big difference.
When contacted by the JEP, he said: ‘The JHA would welcome any opportunity for people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to access the Jersey market. This system would create a controlled environment and would remedy our problems without damaging the current workforce. There is no bigger concern we are facing at the moment than recruitment. The scheme you’ve told me about goes in line with talks we’ve been having in recent weeks. I have to say, as an association, we’d support this, so long as there aren’t too many costs and restrictions.’
The JEP understands that both Economic Development and Home Affairs are in talks about how the visa system would work in practice. One issue they face is that civil servants and politicians at Westminster have concerns that the scheme could provide non-EU nationals with a new route into the UK.
Peter Le Maistre, president of the Jersey Farmers’ Union, said the introduction of the visas would be ‘great news’ for those working in agriculture.
He said: ‘If that’s going to happen, that’s great news. Without it, there have been growers, particularly vegetable growers, who lost harvests last year and at the start of this year, and haven’t planted crops for this winter. If you think you’re going to be short of staff you’re not going to be planting crops. As an industry we’ve been ten to 15 per cent lower than we should be in terms of labour. I think we’ve got away with it, but that’s not sustainable.’
Senator Farnham said: ‘I think if it was anything less than a ten-month visa it would be difficult, as we’re pushing out the season. I want our economy to be less seasonal to drive up productivity. I’m working closely with Home Affairs and we are engaging with industry sectors. Something has to be in place before next summer and we’re hoping to have something agreed as soon as possible. We want to announce our plans as soon as possible so businesses can start planning.’

Asylum seekers win legal right to apply for SA permits

Asylum seekers win legal right to apply for SA permits
10 Oct 2018 – The Star Early Edition
ASYLUM seekers in South Africa yesterday secured a major legal victory after the Constitutional Court ruled that they were eligible to apply for visas or a temporary residence permit, even if their application for asylum was rejected.
The apex court was handing down a judgment which was brought as an appeal against the decision of the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA), relating to applicants who had been refused visas or permits under the Immigration Act.
After her application for asylum was denied, Arifa Musaddik Fahme tried to apply for a visitor’s visa under the Immigration Act, as her husband and children were already legally living in the country, but the Department of Home Affairs refused to accept the application.
Kuzikesa Swinda and Jabbar Ahmed also used the act to apply for critical skills visas, but their applications were also denied, all because of the department’s 2016 immigration directive barring refugees and asylum seekers from applying for visas under the act.
In 2016, the Western Cape High Court declared the directive as irrational as it was arbitrary, adding that Fahme’s rights had been violated.
The court also held that there was no reason Swinda and Ahmed were barred from applying for temporary work permits if they met the requirements.
The department successfully appealed against the ruling at the SCA.
The applicants approached the Concourt, where the department argued that its officials had no discretion to accept and consider applications for visas and permits made within the borders of the country.
Yesterday, Justice Leona Theron said asylum seekers must be allowed to apply for visas or permits under the act, and that they had to be granted if they met the requirements, adding that the directive was invalid as it was against a circular that was created by the department to cater for the circumstances of refugees and asylum seekers.
The circular was withdrawn in 2016 when the directive was introduced.
“Asylum seekers are often not in possession of valid passports or identity documents and not in the position to readily obtain their documents. Within this, the department circulated the circular to its employees and instructed them to accept and consider applications for visas or permits made by asylum seekers not in position of valid passports. The purpose of the circular was to ameliorate the precarious position of asylum seekers and to afford them the opportunity to apply for visas or permits in terms of Immigration Act without a valid passport.
“It must be stressed that no administrative hurdles, relating to the possession of passports and the like, may be introduced by the department in order to disallow or discourage these kinds of applications,” Justice Theron said.

Plans to outsource visa processing are scary, former immigration official says

Sat 6 Oct 2018 – The Guardian
Fears about ‘frightening’ potential for private provider to create ‘fast and slow lanes’
Visa applicants who cannot afford the higher processing charges could end up coming to Australia on visitor visas to apply for other options onshore. Photograph: Julian Smith/AAP
A Department of Home Affairs plan to outsource visa processing will lead to increased automation and “premium” services that could undermine the integrity of the system, a former senior immigration official has warned.
Abul Rizvi, a former departmental deputy secretary, told Guardian Australia the potential for a private provider to create a fast and slow lane for processing had “frightening” long-term implications and the proposed use of applicants’ data for marketing purposes was “appalling”.
Rizvi joins the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) and the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia in expressing concern about the outsourcing plan, which has not received a final sign-off from the cabinet after months of testing the market for expressions of interest.
In February Guardian Australia reported that departmental briefings to industry had revealed that a successful private bidder could offset the $1bn cost of a new visa processing system by raising revenue through “premium services for high-value applicants”, different access for those able to pay more, and “commercial value-added services”, such as offers from banks, telcos and tourist operators.
Rizvi said he was “very concerned” about the prospect of premium services because “there would inevitably be an incentive for the company to be more facilitative with regard to subjective criteria for applicants who have paid for the fast lane”.
“Any monopoly provider would want to maximise charges for the fast lane and try to drive as many applicants as possible into that lane.”
He said applicants whocould not afford the higher charges were likely to come to Australia on visitor visas and apply for other visas after arrival, exacerbating “integrity problems” caused by the existing backlog of people in Australia because of the department’s “extraordinarily poor administration”.
In July, the home affairs minister, Peter Dutton, boasted about a decline in permanent migration, despite ndustry warning that the government was “throttling back the rate of migration by stealth” through longer wait times.
Rizvi predicted that outsourced visa processing would lead to tension between the Department of Home Affairs’ increased use of “subjective criteria” for certain visas and the private operator’s desire for increased automation.
“The company or companies that win these tenders will want to automate decision-making as much as possible to minimise costs.”
Rizvi said it was appalling that “extraordinarily personal information” such as an applicant’s relationship status, job, income and health could be used by a commercial firm for marketing purposes.
The chairwoman of the Federation of Ethnic Community Councils of Australia, Mary Patetsos, said it would be “very concerned” about commercialisation of applicant information. She also opposed measures that could lead to an increased cost of visas, particularly for family and partner visas.
“Australia has a long-standing reputation for its impartial, fair and transparent immigration system,” she said. “It should not be put at risk.”
Patetsos warned that premium services “could undermine fairness”. “The opportunity to bring family to Australia to live or visit for extended periods should be available to all Australians – not just the wealthy.”
She said it would be unacceptable for Australian families of limited means to be denied family reunion, which was “integral to successful settlement, social cohesion and wellbeing”.
The deputy national president of the CPSU, Lisa Newman, said a two-tiered visa processing system “will lead to dangerous outcomes”, with the operating company incentivised to to put its profits ahead of the need to assess “gold-plated” visa applicants to the same standards applied to those who could not afford to pay a premium.

“It would also give the company an incentive to further delay processing times for regular customers to try to force them into upgrading.”
She called on the Coalition to abandon the proposal.
The CPSU intends to campaign on the visa outsourcing issue at the next federal election, targeting the immigration minister David Coleman’s seat of Banks, and other electorates with a high number of Australians born overseas, including in western Sydney.
Tender requests went to the market in July and there have been industry briefings in Sydney, Canberra, San Francisco, Singapore and Bengaluru, as well as consultation by the Department of Home Affairs with its workforce.
Groups reportedly keen to bid include a joint venture between Accenture and Australia Post, and a consortium involving Pacific Blue Capital, Qantas Ventures, PwC and Ellerston Capital.
Pacific Blue Capital is run by Malcolm Turnbull’s former employee and friend Scott Briggs. In September, Labor signalled it would pursue the government’s planned outsourcing of the $1bn visa processing system in Senate estimates and called on ministers linked to Briggs to recuse themselves from consideration of the outsourcing proposal.

Department of Home Affairs loses Marriage Register

Randridge – 12 October 2018

SECUNDA – Although a local couple got married in 2016, according to the Department of Home Affairs, they are not married and must get married again. According to officer, couple’s only option is to get re-married.
This comes after the department claims the register where their wedding is supposed to be registered, is lost.
“They lost a whole register with other couples’ details in as well,” said the groom.
According to him, there are three copies of the marriage certificate, one goes to the conductor of the wedding ceremony, one to the couple and one to the department, but allegedly the copy, the department received is not legal because it was filled in with a blue pen and not a black pen.
The couple went to the Department of Home Affairs numerous times to resolve this matter, but to no avail.
“They told us they will investigate it and that our copy is invalid because it is in blue ink.”
The department advised the couple to get married again, but they do not want to because then the date of their wedding will be in 2018 and not 2016.
“We do not know what to do next, we are considering to get married in court and see if they can back date the certificate to 2016 so that we can have our correct date on our wedding certificate.”
It will cost the couple R1 500 if the same reverend re-marry them so they are considering to get married in court rather.
“We are already married,” said the man.