Browsing "Visitors Permit"

Zim special permit application process to reopen

Zim special permit application process to reopen
SA News – 04 August 2017
Cabinet has approved the reopening of the application process for the current Zimbabwean Special Permit holders, under certain conditions.
The initial Special Dispensation for Zimbabweans was approved in April 2009 to document Zimbabwean nationals who were in South Africa illegally.
Their permits expire on 31 December 2017.
The ZSP allows applications from Zimbabweans with a valid Zimbabwean passport, evidence of employment, business or accredited study and a clear criminal record and if successful grants them a permit to stay and work, study or run a business in South Africa.
About 200 000 Zimbabweans in possession of the special permit are currently working or studying in the country.
The cut-of date for receiving ZSP applications was December 2014. The applications were received by VFS Global and adjudicated over by the Department of Home Affairs.
The special permits were introduced to allow Zimbabweans a three-year residency in South Africa.
A similar initiative was granted for the Basotho nationals who were in the country illegally. The LSP allows for Lesotho nationals to live in South Africa legally.
At the time of the introduction of the LSP, the Department of Home Affairs said the special permits were only for those Lesotho citizens registered in the National Population Register of Lesotho.
South Africa granted an amnesty to Basotho in possession of fraudulently acquired documentation, so that they can surrender such documents, without the fear of arrest or deportation. Applicants receive amnesty letters as proof. –

Home Affairs looking to make travelling easier for tourists – Minister

Parliament – The Home Affairs department is considering the use of
family advocates to make it easier for single parents to travel in and
out of the country with children, Minister Malusi Gigaba said on Tuesday.
The minister and his team were briefing Parliament`s portfolio
committee on home affairs on the progress of recommendations by the
inter-ministerial committee on the unintended consequences of the
immigration regulations.
Gigaba said one of the concerns raised with them was that if one
partner had disappeared or was being uncooperative; parents would not
be able to travel.
“The department cannot say in that regard we waive the regulations,
because they must apply to everyone,” he said.
He said parents had been advised to seek a high court interdict to
allow children of single parents to travel.
He said they had a number of cases of parents whose children left the
country without consent, leading to parents taking action against the
Gigaba said they were exploring the possibility of using family
advocates, instead of the high court.
“To provide us with that order that would enable us to allow parents
to travel with their children. But they are still considering the matter.”
He said this solution contained a few risks.
“After all, a family advocate is not a court and they do not have the
power of the court. We were just trying in this instance to assist
single parents who were complaining about the travel.”
Over 4 400 minors were refused permission to enter or leave the
country during the festive season.
2 753 were South African citizens, and 1 652 were foreigners.
School tours were also under the spotlight, with the department
explaining the measures in place to make it easier for groups of
children to travel.
The minister also took the committee through the approval of the
10-year multiple entry visas to frequent business and academic
travellers from Africa.
During the next three-month immediate phase, which followed the
Cabinet decision to amend the strict visa regulations for travel in
and out of SA, the decision was made to grant frequent business and
academic travellers multiple entry visitor`s visa for a period
exceeding three months and up to three years.
Biometric capturing capacity at ports of entry were also a priority,
the minister said.
The department of home affairs started training officials to capture
biometric data at South Africa`s international airports in November,
as part of the enhanced Movement Control System (eMCS) biometric pilot
Gigaba insisted that safety was at the forefront of all decisions made
by the department.

South Africa Deports 40,000 Zimbabweans

South Africa Deports 40,000 Zimbabweans
Published: January 2, 2015 –
South Africa has made a move and is set to start deporting more than 40,000 Zimbabweans who failed to apply for their visa extensions under the special dispensation mitigated by that government under request from Harare.
The deadline for any and all Zimbabweans in South Africa wanting to apply for a permit to stay in the country legally is the 31st, the home affairs department revealed as reported on ZimEye on the 31st December.
A Home Affairs officer has said following the announcement illegal Zimbabweans are to be forcibly removed from that country.
“The closure of the Zimbabwean special permit application process [is] by end of business today, 31 December,” the department said in a statement as earlier reported.
As of Tuesday, 207 802 applications had been received, while 198 840 appointments had been booked through VFS, a private company to which home affairs had outsourced certain visa and permit processes.
A total of 245 000 Zimbabweans living in South Africa were eligible to apply for the new permit.
The department said that besides the close of applications for Zimbabwean special permits, permits issued under an older system, the Dispensation for Zimbabwean Project (ZSP) also expired today – no matter their original expiry date.
Last month, the department announced it would allow people with the expired older permits to still use these documents to travel in and out of South Africa during the festive season until December 31.
Zimbabweans in the country illegally were granted an opportunity from 2009 to legalise their stay via the permit, due to the political and socio-economic conditions in that country.
Previously, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said all the new permits should be issued by the end of April next year. They would be valid until the end of 2017.
A similar permit process for the Basotho, Mozambicans, and other Southern African Development Community nationals is expected to be implemented in future.
– Sapa

How the demographic of South Africans living in the UK has changed over the last decade

How the demographic of South Africans living in the UK has changed over the last decade

02 Jan, 2015 – Sandi Durnford-Slater – The South African
If you’re reading this in the UK, you are probably sitting on a bus or tube in London, or you may be out in the countryside. Perhaps you are reading online from the comfort of your newly purchased home in Woking, Twickenham or the Slough, having taken advantage of the stamp duty reduction?
Likely you’re sipping a hot mug of Rooibos, dipping a rusk and pondering your own story. How did you get here? Why did you stay? What were the ‘push’ and ‘pull’ factors for leaving South Africa and coming to the UK?
“The UK has a lot to offer. It’s a safe environment and there are lots of opportunities. Coming from South Africa, the crime was a genuine push factor,” says Marilu, living in Molsey. She and her husband arrived in the UK seven years ago on Ancestral visas and naturalised this year. has a readership of 380 000 per month. Among the South African readers, many were in the UK when the site launched just over a decade ago in 2003.
According to the Office of National Statistics, as of December 2013, there are roughly 221 000 South Africans living in the UK. The late 90s and early noughties saw a bumper crop of short and long term migration to the UK from South Africa.
“I came to the UK for an extended holiday to see the world. I arrived on a working holiday visa, but switched to an ancestry visa after two years. Now I’ve been here 14 years,” explains Gerald who lives with his wife near Epsom.
“I came to the UK in 1999 on a two year working holiday visa. I worked as a supply teacher travelling in my holidays,” recounts Gregg “Back then teacher pay in London was much better than what I was getting in South Africa.”
The picture has changed over the years. “Overall, there has been a general decrease in immigration to the UK, as the UK Home Office is making it more difficult for people to come to the UK,” explain JB Immigration Consultants Ltd, “Except for the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme, which is basically the new ‘Working Holiday’ scheme, all the UK immigration routes are still open to South Africans.”
In addition, 1st Contact reveals that South African numbers applying to enter the UK on the available work visas “has consistently fallen from 29 300 in 2004, to 2060 in 2012.”
So who is coming? And who is going?
“We have certainly seen a trend in high net-worth clients immigrating, and businesses setting up branches in the United Kingdom in order to expand into the EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) markets,” confirm Breytenbachs.
There are a number of factors influencing South Africans to remain in the UK. The reason they came to the UK is the first consideration, suggests the Home Office:
“Migrants who arrive in the UK with family visas or as skilled or highly-skilled workers are more likely to naturalise than those with student visas or temporary work visas.”
Jeff was born in South Africa and came to the UK on a British passport. He has been here for 15 years: “I now have a family and run my own business. We have purchased a home on a part buy part rent scheme. There used to be a struggle in me, but I have come to realise that just because the weather is better in SA, that doesn’t mean that life is better. Most of the reasons I love being here are about the opportunities my family can have in terms of education, quality of life and exposure to the world.” Jeff lives in Enfield, which he considers to be a taste of “both London and the countryside”.
“I would like to go home for climate, lifestyle and family, but I am staying for job security, stability for the children and my husband is Irish,” says Fiona, now living in Hemel Hempstead, having arrived in the UK 17 years ago on a British passport.
In a recent European study of naturalisation trends, several factors were identified as being associated with higher likelihood of naturalisation.
“Naturalisation is more likely for migrants who speak the destination country’s language, who have a parent born in the destination country, who reside longer within it,” find researchers Dronkers and Vink (
Another argument is that migrants from a former colony of the destination country are more likely to naturalise. Though she was born and raised in Klerksdorp in South Africa, secondary school teacher, Leslie recalls, “I came to the UK as my family is originally from Scotland. I have always felt an affinity with the UK and felt more British than South African even when I lived in SA.” Leslie lives in Bracknell, in Berkshire having arrived in the UK on a British passport 7 years ago.
Dronkers and Vink claim that higher naturalisation rates occur “where citizenship law is relatively permissive. British citizenship law does not require renunciation of prior citizenships in order to naturalise.”
In addition, the citizenship laws in the sending country are relevant here. South Africans, with permission, are allowed to hold more than one passport. Zimbabwe does not permit dual citizenship, probably lowering naturalisation rates among Zimbabweans.
Many, of course, have returned to South Africa. Natalie has dual citizenship, she is a mother of three young children, now living in East London, South Africa:
“Once the kids came, our days in the UK were numbered. We had to get closer to grannies, grandpas, uncles, aunts and cousins.”
How have those of us who stayed begun to show our age?
Ten years ago we might have spent New Year at the Walkabout, The Slug, or Hogmanay; now we prefer a dinner at home with friends because the kids will wake us up early anyway. Ten years ago we were living in digs with other 20-something working travellers; now we’ve bought that house a little bit out of London in order to achieve the #bestofbothworlds. A decade ago we were single and fancy free; now we divide our lives between continents and hemispheres, talk of jumpers not jerseys, own trainers not takkies and instead of a holy-huddle of South African expats we now have a motley assortment of friends of different nationalities and our children speak with a British accent.
But not everything has changed: most of us still live in Merton, Wandsworth and other parts of the South West; we have not lost our taste for a braai (though we may call it a BBQ); we still visit the South African shops and we still read

Zimbabweans face possible deportation from South Africa

Zimbabweans face possible deportation from South Africa
January 3, 2015 – News Time Africa
JOHANNESBURG (AA) – Thousands of Zimbabwean nationals living illegally in South Africa could face deportation after the Department of Home Affairs announced the conclusion of the Zimbabwean Special Permit application process.
“In 2009, 245,000 Zimbabweans applied for the permits. This year, 208,000 applied,” department spokesman Mayihlome Tshwete told The Anadolu Agency on Friday.
He said there were many reasons why only 208,000 people applied for the special permits this year compared to the slightly higher number in 2009.
“Some might have gone back to Zimbabwe, got married or finished their studies here,” the official, speaking by telephone, said.
Media reports had suggested earlier Friday that up to 40,000 Zimbabwean nationals could face deportation after failing to apply for the permit.
“In any country, a foreign national who lacks a permit faces deportation,” Tshwete said, but denied reports that as many as 40,000 would be expelled from the country.
Zimbabweans living illegally in South Africa have – due to the difficult political and socio-economic conditions in their country – had the opportunity since 2009 to legalize their residency by obtaining special permits.
Last August, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba announced the launch of the Zimbabwean Special Permit (ZSP) of 2014, which allows holders to study, work and carry out commercial activities in the country until December 2017.
“I did not apply for the special permit because I use an asylum-seekers permit,” Lovemore Ndebele, a Zimbabwean national living in Johannesburg, told AA.
Ndebele said that for years people had been given different types of permits.
“My cousin got a student permit and completed her studies. She has since returned home,” he explained.
An estimated three million Zimbabwean nationals reside outside their country, with the majority in South Africa and Botswana and others in countries such as Britain, Canada and the United States.
The southern African country witnessed a mass exodus in 2008 amid economic turmoil and disputed elections, which led to the mistreatment of some opposition figures.
In a Wednesday statement, the Department of Home Affairs said that, as of Tuesday, as many as 207,802 applications had been received, while 198,840 appointments had been booked through the VFS system.
It also extended its gratitude to all the Zimbabweans who had taken part in the application process.
South Africa is home to thousands of refugees from Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), among others.
The mineral-rich country has also attracted thousands of migrants from other continents.

SA to deport 40 000 Zimbabweans

SA to deport 40 000 Zimbabweans
Posted on Jan 1 2015 – By Thupeyo Muleya –
At least 40 000 Zimbabweans face deportation from South Africa after they failed to meet yesterday’s deadline to apply for permits under that country’s “Zimbabwean Special Permit (ZSP)” window.
In a statement yesterday, South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs said it had received 207 802 applications by end of day on Tuesday.
The ZSP programme replaces the Zimbabwe Dispensation Programme which started in May 2009 and expired yesterday.
The South African Cabinet approved the new permit on August 6 following engagements by the two countries’ Home Affairs ministers.
A total of 245 000 Zimbabweans were eligible to apply for the new permits, which were being processed by the Visa Facilitation Services (VFS).
During ZDP, 295 000 Zimbabweans applied for the permit and over 245 000 permits were granted, with the balance being denied due to lack of passports or non-fulfilment of other special requirements.
“We wish to announce that as of Tuesday, 30 December 2014, 207 802 applications had been received, while 198 840 appointments had been booked through VFS.
“We wish to extend our gratitude to all eligible Zimbabweans who participated in this process as well as to VFS who played an integral role in assisting the Department of Home Affairs in reaching this milestone,” reads part of the statement.
The department said the closure of the ZSP application process also marked the expiry date of the old Dispensation for Zimbabwean Project (ZSP).
“This means that ZSP permits whose expiry dates were beyond 31 December 2014 have been brought forward to today. In this regard, 245 000 ZSP holders were eligible to apply for the ZSP.
“In line with the announcement made by Minister Malusi Gigaba on 12 August 2014, the closure of the ZSP application process also marked the expiry date of the old Dispensation for Zimbabwean Programme (ZSP),” said the Department.
However, many people faced a number of challenges.
The processing of permits was affected by a lot of technical glitches, which resulted in at least 37 198 Zimbabweans failing to regularise their stay in that country.
The Department of Home Affairs began accepting online applications on October 1, last year.
The VFS handled the application process, which were adjudicated by the Department of Home Affairs.
They opened 10 ZSP application centres in the provinces of Gauteng (Midrand), Western Cape (Cape Town), Limpopo (Polokwane) and Kwazulu-Natal (Durban).
Other centres were in George, Port Elizabeth, Kimberley, Bloemfontein, Nelspruit and Rustenburg.
After making applications online, one had to secure an appointment to hand in the documents at the Home Affairs offices through their call centre.
In separate telephone interviews recently, many holders of the previous ZDP permits said the VFS website was constantly down and that they were finding it difficult to complete all the initial processes.
Some failed to get through to the VFS call centre where the number was continually unreachable.
Others said they failed to apply for the permits after failing to secure sworn affidavits from employers, which was one of the requirements for the permits.
According to the new regulations, one needed a valid Zimbabwean passport, evidence of employment (confirmation letter of employment and a sworn affidavit statement from employer), business or accredited study and be free of a criminal record. The Chronicle

Immigration in any language is becoming a dirty word

Immigration in any language is becoming a dirty word
01 Jan 2015 00:00 Ashifa Kassam
The issue dominates debates, but for different reasons, from the far right making political capital to border guards pushing migrant boats back.

Few issues excite politicians’ and voters’ passions as much as immigration. For decades now, the world has been on the move: in 2013, according to the United Nations Population Fund, the number of people living outside their country of origin reached 232-million – 50% more than in 1990.

That may seem like a lot of people; in fact, it represents just 3.2% of the world’s population. They are, however, unevenly spread: 60% live in the developed world, including 72-million in Europe, 71-million in Asia and 53-million in North America. Nearly two-thirds of migrants living in the developed world came from a developing country.
Logically, the developed world is also where international immigrants represent a larger proportion of the total population: 10.8%, against just 1.6% in developing regions. Migrants, for example, now make up 9.8% of the total population in Europe, 14.9% in North America and more than 20% in Oceania.
But it seems migration patterns are shifting. Although more people still settle in developed countries than in developing, the growth rate is now higher in the latter: 1.8% against 1.5%. Also, overall migration is slowing. From 2000 to 2010, 4.6-million people left their home country each year; that number is now 3.6-million. But migration and its effects, real or perceived, remain one of the defining political and social issues of the day. – Jon Henley
Population: 144-million
Net migration 2010-2014: 1.1-million
Hop on a metro train in Moscow or visit a market in any of Russia’s major cities and faces from Central Asia and the Caucasus will be everywhere. According to UN figures, Russia has more immigrants than any other country in the world, save the United States, with about 11-million foreigners living in the country at any one time and a large grey labour market.
Immigrants have been responsible for the lion’s share of the construction and other work that has taken place during Vladimir Putin’s presidency, when, at least until recently, high oil prices fuelled a building boom.
Much of the immigration to Russia is from countries that were once part of the Soviet Union and have suffered economic decline since its collapse. Whole villages in mountainous Tajikistan empty of their menfolk each summer as hundreds of thousands travel to Russia to work on ¬construction sites and do other menial jobs.
Partly because many of the immigrant communities are transient and temporary, and partly because of active government policies to prevent it, Moscow’s enormous migrant population has never translated into ethnic districts. There is no Chinatown here, no part of the city to go to for Central Asian plov or Caucasian khinkali dumplings. Instead, the migrant populations are spread out around the city – a small intellectual class that is more or less integrated into Russian life, and an underclass of labourers who live in makeshift housing on construction sites or in cheap hostels.
The low living standards and the bureaucratic hurdles that make it impossible for many migrants to work without paying bribes has led to tension and mistrust among Russians. A survey earlier this year for the Levada polling agency found that 76% of Russians believed the number of immigrants should be restricted, and just 12% said they had a positive opinion of migrants from the South Caucasus.
Occasionally, these latent tensions bubble over into violence, most notably last year in the Moscow suburb of Birulyovo, where riots broke out after a Russian football fan was killed by a migrant from Azerbaijan.
Even Alexei Navalny, the great hope of Moscow’s liberal classes, has disturbingly nationalist views. Navalny says he merely wants to see visas introduced for the former Soviet republics, but in his earlier years he appeared in videos comparing migrant workers with cockroaches.
The government has tried to tread a careful line between exploiting and reining in nationalist sentiment, but there are few conscious efforts to improve the lot of unskilled migrants. In 2005, the nationalist politician Dmitry Rogozin released a campaign video with the slogan: “Let’s clean the rubbish away from Moscow.” It was clear that migrant workers were the rubbish, pictured speaking bad Russian and leering at a blonde Russian woman.
Even in Russia, the video was controversial but what might have been a career end for a politician in another country only boosted Rogozin’s ratings. He is now the deputy prime minister. – Shaun Walker
Population: 9.728-million
Net migration 2010-2014: 200 000
Of the record 26 000 asylum applications granted last year, 14 500 were to Syrians. The largest immigrant group in Sweden, however, is the Finns, followed by the Iraqis.
Population: 5.614-million
Net migration 2010-2014: 75 000
Last quarter, Germans made up the largest group (accounted for by students arriving in September), with Syrians third, but Romanians followed by Poles have been the largest two groups for several years.
Population: 5.08-million
Net migration 2010-2014: 150 000
In 2013, Polish people accounted for the largest number: 10 502.
We tend to think of Denmark, Sweden and Norway, collectively, as liberal, progressive social democracies, but they have traditionally had quite different approaches towards immigration.
The region has more immediate and significant challenges to face – productivity stagnation and increased inequality (Denmark), a slumping oil price (Norway) and an ageing population (Sweden) – but anti-immigration parties across the region have skilfully exploited the concerns of predominantly lower-income groups to reap huge dividends in the polls. Thus immigration has been the most significant political issue in Scandinavia for more than a decade.
Norway is one of the world’s most generous donors of foreign aid but is generally considered the least welcoming in the region to immigrants. Actually, in 2013, Norway was second only to Sweden in the per capita number of refugees it welcomed (the largest number from Eritrea, followed by Somalia and Syria), but things have changed dramatically since the election that year, after which the right-wing Progress Party – of which the mass killer Anders Behring Breivik was a former member – was admitted into the ruling coalition for the first time. Its leader, Siv Jensen, a vocal Islamophobe, was appointed finance minister. Today, Norway is deporting people at a record rate: more than 7 000 this year.
In Denmark, next year’s election is expected to bring a record vote for the far-right Danish People’s Party (it won the highest number of votes in the recent European elections). This is not the first time the party has tasted success: it was the power¬broker in the right-leaning government for the first decade of the 21st century, and forced through many controversial immigration laws, largely to prevent family repatriation.
In Denmark, “immigrant” is often conflated with “Muslim”, and “freedom of speech” is commonly interpreted as “freedom to insult Islam and other visible minorities”. This we saw with the Muhammad cartoon crisis of 2005-2006, and again just last month in the exhibition in Copenhagen of Swedish artist Dan Parks’s works depicting the lynching of local black leaders, which had been banned in his homeland.
Sweden has long accepted more immigrants than any other Scandinavian country, and continues to do so: last year it admitted roughly 20% of all European Union asylum seekers. This year it is predicting a record number of refugees will apply for asylum, the majority from Syria.
The Swedish ruling class has long been a curious mix of fiercely progressive social democrats and rather murky industrialists (usually the bad guys in Swedish crime fiction). The former approve the open-door policy on grounds of compassion, but both the public and private sectors feast on the cheap labour: Sweden’s economy has consistently outperformed Denmark’s over the past decade.
Meanwhile, a compliant media has sidelined anti-immigration voices, leading to accusations of self-censorship (mostly from the Danes who have grown tired of Swedish sanctimony about the prominence of the Danish People’s Party).
This kept the far right out of the political mainstream for many years but, in the last general election in Sep¬tem¬ber, the Sweden Democrats, which has its origins in neo-Nazism, won 13% of the vote, doubling its previous tally. The party’s support is predominantly among working-class voters in the south.
One final curiosity: all the Scan¬dinavian right-wing parties offer an improbable blend of xenophobia and an almost nostalgic social democratic affection for the welfare state. – Michael Booth
Population: 23.7-million
Net migration 2010-2014: 750 000
People turning up on boats – nothing has played a greater role in defining Australia, in shaping the country’s character, in directing its development. Nothing, now, is more controversial. Prime Minister Tony Abbott said early last year that the arrival of the First Fleet in Australia was the defining moment in the country’s history. But he won election on a platform of promising to “stop the boats” of all asylum seekers.
Australia has a curiously contradictory attitude to migrants, at once welcoming and hostile, depending almost exclusively on mode of arrival. Fundamentally, Australia prides itself on being multicultural. It is a nation of immigrants. One in four Australians was born overseas, and in nearly 20% of households a language other than English is the dominant tongue. Net migration is forecast by the government to increase each year to 2017, the last year of projections.
India and the United Kingdom provided nearly a third of new Australian citizens last year.
The statistics are reflective of Australia’s human history, essentially one of successive waves of migration. The arrival of indigenous Australians, from Africa via Asia, between 40 000 and 60 000 years ago; the First Fleet convicts in 1788; post-war generations of “populate or perish” sponsored migrants; the dismantling of the White Australia Policy; the first “unauthorised” boat arrivals in the 1970s – Australia has been shaped, and irrevocably altered, by its migrants.
But in 21st-century Australia, the vast bulk of its migration programme is barely discussed. Periodically, there are debates about whether the driest inhabited continent on Earth can support a “Big Australia” of 35-million, or discussions of guest worker programmes for Pacific Islanders. But essentially Australia talks only of asylum seekers and refugees.
Australia displays a divided attitude towards those seeking asylum. Those resettled in Australia through the government’s humanitarian programme are seen as “deserving” refugees, welcomed and supported. Those who arrive unannounced by boat are condemned as “illegals” and “queue jumpers”.
This is despite most boat arrivals coming from Burma, Afghanistan, Iran and Sri Lanka, countries where there are no refugee queues. And it is despite the fact that there are now fewer places in the queue – at the same time as stopping the boats, Australia has cut its refugee resettlement intake by almost a third, from 20 000 to 13 750 people a year.
The government says its self-proclaimed “hardline” policies against boat arrivals are based on a humanitarian rationale, designed to stop drownings at sea, to “break the people smugglers’ business model”, and to protect Australia from “threats to its national security”.
Yet more than 90% of those arriving by boat are found to be genuine refugees, requiring Australia’s protection. And their numbers, save for a significant spike in 2012 and 2013, have generally been fewer than 1% of Australia’s total migrant intake.
But the policy at its most fundamental level is successful. Boats are no longer coming.
Australia is one of only five jurisdictions known to forcibly push asylum seekers’ boats back to sea. Those who reach Australian shores are taken out of the country, held in prison-like camps in Papua New Guinea and Nauru, where cases of self-harm, disease and violent physical and sexual assault are common. The average length of detention is 426 days. Australia also incarcerates asylum-seeker children without charge. Currently, more than 600 are in detention. – Ben Doherty
Population: 1.2-billion
Net migration 2010-2014: -2.294-million
It was dusk in early November when the suicide bomber struck Wagah, the only land crossing between nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan, killing at least 55 people. India’s orange-turbaned border guards and their black-clad Pakistani counterparts had already lowered each country’s flag in a display of goose-stepping nationalism attended daily by spectators.
Because of tight security, the bomber blew himself up a few hundred metres from the actual gate separating the two countries. But, for India, it was close enough to serve as a potent reminder of how vulnerable it is to infiltration. Six years ago, Pakistanis carried out the Mumbai attacks in which more than 150 people were killed.
Terror and security issues have driven India’s immigration policy. Its 2 300km border with Pakistan is fenced and so brightly floodlit that it is visible from space. But, increasingly, illegal migration and population pressures are in play.
In the east, along India’s 3?360km border with Bangladesh, shoot on sight orders allow border guards to kill with impunity. Human Rights Watch estimates that at least 1 000 people, including many children, have been killed by Indian border guards since 2000. Most victims are poor, landless farmers seeking a marginally better life in India.
Migration is overwhelmingly undocumented. Although the World Bank’s official figures suggest a net outflow, estimates for the number of illegal immigrants run from three million to 20-million. And migration to the country is increasingly a potent religious and political issue.
During the election campaign earlier this year, India’s new Hindu nationalist prime minister, Naren¬dra Modi, told a rally that “these Bangladeshis better be prepared with their bags packed” when he came to power. Meanwhile, he said, India should make space for Hindu migrants left behind when the British carved up the subcontinent in 1947.
Hindus fled to India and Muslims to East and West Pakistan, with up to a million slaughtered. East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, gained its independence in 1971 in another conflict. Ever since those partitions, migration within the region has remained a thorny emotional issue.
But even garden-variety visitors to India hardly find a red-carpet welcome. Despite Modi’s economic charm offensive and encouragement for businesses to “make in India”, the regime for both business and tourist visas remains Kafkaesque. In the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rating, India has fallen eight places to 139 out of 189 economies surveyed in 2014.
Perhaps the most bizarre legacy of India’s failure to forge a humane, coherent immigration policy, free from the hangovers of colonialism, lies in a tiny parcel of land called Dahala Khagrabari No 51. It’s a Bangladeshi jute field, encircled by an Indian village, which is itself surrounded by Bangladeshi territory. Its inhabitants and those of a staggering 161 other such “enclaves”, created in the chaotic aftermath of independence, are stateless and confined to their islands of terrain.
India has ignored the problem for six decades, possibly on the assumption that the problem may eventually go away. Its immigration policy suffers from the same wilful blindness. Fencing people out might solve some problems. But the twin regional factors of poverty and climate change could see millions of people, particularly from Bangladesh, seeking sanctuary in India. At that point, New Delhi may have to look beyond barbed wire and bullets. – Anu Anand
Population: 182.1-million
Net migration 2010-2014: 1.63-million
Pakistan is home to one of the largest refugee populations in the world. The majority are Afghans who began arriving after the Soviet invasion in 1979 and have continued in waves during the following decades of war.
The UN says there are about 1.6-million refugees living in Pakistan and, in total, it has helped to repatriate 3.8-million. The government, meanwhile, says there are another million Afghan refugees who are undocumented, although some experts place the total number of Afghan refugees closer to four million.
In the sixth most populous country in the world, accurate figures are hard to come by. Junaid Arshad Khan, from the International Organisation of Migration, said the government only published daily figures for border crossings between the two countries – about 40 000 to 50 000 each day – but added that many were daily migrants.
Despite the high number of refugees, there is little national debate about immigration, according to Haris Gazdar from the Collective for Social Science Research. “There have been similar debates to those in the West, with migrants linked to crime and a draw on resources. But, at the moment, that has died down and there is not a serious debate about repatriation or immigration policy in general.”
The lack of debate is partly because many Afghan refugees live in areas where they have strong ethnic and cultural links to the local population. But Sanaa Alimia, an academic who researches Afghan refugees, said there had been a growing hostility in recent years – and this normally came from people at government level. She said she had come across mass arrests and harassment of refugees as a way to “encourage” them to be repatriated. She added that only Afghan refugees who were registered could get access to services such as education, housing and healthcare, and were protected against repatriation or arrest.
Although many refugees arrived decades ago, few become citizens, unless they marry into the local population.
Alimia said the more than one million people who were internally displaced by military operations against militants and natural disasters were part of the debate about immigration. But other smaller populations of migrants from elsewhere in South Asia, or skilled workers from China, were seldom mentioned.
Meanwhile, more than four million Pakistanis are migrants to countries such as India, Saudi Arabia and the UK, and remittances from abroad make up 5.7% of the country’s gross domestic product. – Homa Khaleeli
Population: 1.35-billion
Net migration 2010-2014: -1.5-million
“Immigration is not an issue in China,” declared Wang Huiyao, president of the Centre for China and Globalisation, a Beijing think-tank.
In fact, he said, the urgent issue facing China was not an excess of arrivals but of departures. Its immigration deficit, as measured from the early 1980s, had reached nearly 8.5-million. The leadership was now seeking to address that, Wang added. “China now sees recruiting talents as more important than attracting investments.”
Set against the size of the population, the number of foreigners is very low. The 2010 census found there were fewer than 600 000 living on the mainland for more than three months (by 2012, that total had risen to 633 000, say Chinese media), 66% male and 33% female. Most of those were engaged in business, work or study.
By far the largest number, about 20%, came from South Korea, with the US and Japan also sending significant numbers, and smaller groups coming from Burma, Vietnam, Canada, France, India, Germany and Australia. Settling in China long term is difficult. In 2010, just 1 448 foreigners gained Chinese citizenship. And fewer than 5 000 people had gained permanent residence by 2012, according to Chinese media; 1 300 of those gained their green cards through a drive to recruit foreign scientists. State news agency Xinhua reported earlier this year that the government was considering developing “more flexible and pragmatic” criteria for green cards.
“Compared with the UK or the US, Chinese society is very open-minded on immigration,” said Wang, suggesting it has welcomed new arrivals, in part because most have been well educated and are highly skilled.
But in places that had seen significant numbers of illegal migrants, the attitude could be less positive, he said. There had been immigration crackdowns in some areas, notably in parts of Guangzhou, where there were large numbers of African residents. Traders and businesspeople there have complained of police targeting them randomly and of general social prejudice.
By far the most significant aspect of Chinese migration is internal: more than 160-million rural workers now live in cities, but their rights to basic services are restricted by the hukou household registration system, which divides people into urban and rural dwellers and classifies rights accordingly.
Although the government has announced hukou reforms, experts say there is a long way to go. That reflects, in part, anxiety about how urban residents will react. Some are extremely hostile to the idea of extending more rights to rural workers and their rhetoric can echo comments about immigrants in the UK: complaining that schools will be overwhelmed and that migrants are changing the culture of neighbourhoods.
But Wang Zhenyao, the president of the China Philanthropy Research Institute, said such views were in a minority. “Most people in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou understand that, without migrant workers, the daily operation of the cities will come to a halt,” he said. — Tania Branigan. Additional research by Luna Lin
Population: 46.5-million
Net migration 2010-2014: 600 000
In Spain, the discussion about immigrants has been overshadowed by worries about the number of people leaving. Fifteen years ago, immigrants from Ecuador, Bolivia, Romania and Morocco drove the immigrant population in the country from less than 2% in 1999 to 12% in 2009, but today many of these same migrants are leaving.
In the face of an unemployment rate that hovers around 24%, many of Spain’s migrants are heading home, joining the exodus of Spaniards hoping to find better job opportunities abroad. Spain became a net exporter of people in 2010; last year about 550 000 people left while 250 680 migrated to the country, primarily from Morocco, Romania and the UK.
The figures, from the National Statistics Institute, are not exact, only reflecting the number of people who have registered with local authorities in their municipality; many foreigners have taken their names off municipal rolls to avoid a new requirement to declare assets abroad.
The economic crisis has led the number of Latin American migrants to drop off considerably in recent years, according to Joaquín Arango, a professor of sociology at Madrid’s Complutense University. Increasingly taking their place are migrants from China, who see business opportunities in the crisis.
Arango said, compared with many other European countries, there had been less rejection of migration in Spain. “Even after seven years of economic crisis, we haven’t seen any kind of generalised backlash.”
The explanation lay in the country’s transition to democracy after more than three decades of dictatorship. “The values associated with democracy – anti-racism, equality – became entrenched.” He referred to remarks made by British Prime Minister David Cam¬eron in 2011 urging the British public to report illegal immigrants. “In Spain, this would be unthinkable.”
Those who worked with immigrants worried that this attitude was slowly eroding, said Mikel Araguás, of Andalucía Acoge (Welcome Andalusia), a nonprofit group dedicated to helping immigrants integrate. With the harsh austerity measures, migrants were increasingly being seen as competitors for the scarce social resources, Araguás said. “We’re starting to see a discourse that seeks to criminalise immigration, with some media asking whether these groups pay taxes or whether they’re scamming social services.”
Food banks run by far-right groups and who serve only needy Spaniards have sprung up and, in the Basque country, the mayor of Vitoria has railed against Algerians and Moroccans, accusing them of taking advantage of social benefits. Araguás said the stereotypes had rapidly gained strength in the absence of little public debate over immigration.
Instead, he said, the conversation was about what was happening on the borders of the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, where migrants spent months roughing it in the hope of rushing the border fence separating Morocco and Spain.
“It’s an element that’s very visual but a perversion of migration in the country.” About 14 000 people rushed the fence last year, with 2 000 making it in – a minuscule drop in the bucket compared with Spain’s 4.6-million immigrants. Still, the border fences have become the flashpoint of the debate over migrants in Spain, with human rights groups, the EU and UN expressing concerns about Spain’s actions, with the Spanish government fortifying the triple fence and covering it with anti-climbing mesh.
It was a futile debate in a country that had become a net exporter of people, Araguás said. — © Guardian News & Media 2014