Why shouldn’t I use an unregistered migration agent?

Why shouldn’t I use an unregistered migration agent?

In South Africa, unregistered people working as migration agents are not breaking the law but are unregulated and you have no recourse for poor advice which will have devasting consequences on your application and your future in South Africa .
This is because people who are not registered might:
• not know about current South African legislation and procedures
• give you incorrect advice
• make false claims about your chances of success.
Advantages of a registered Immigration Practitioner:
• knows the current South African Immigration legislation and procedures
• writes a licensing exam and is registered with FIPSA / Law Society
• will always give you correct advice
• will be honest about your chances of success
• will go for regular training with Department of Home Affairs, Department of Labour, VFS and Department of Trade and Industry.
Applying in South Africa: if you want to report an unregistered person, you can contact us (free of charge).

Applying outside South Africa: if you are outside South Africa and suspect that an unregistered person has broken the law, you can report them to your local law enforcement authority and tell your nearest immigration office or SA Embassy .

If you think that a migration agent is acting unprofessionally, you should also tell your nearest immigration office ( Department of Home Affairs ) .

SA Migration International is registered with FIPSA ( Forum of Immigration Practitioners ) and the Department of Home Affairs

Why would I use a registered migration agent?/ Practitioner?

Why would I use a registered migration agent?/ Practitioner?

Although you do not have to use a registered migration agent to lodge your visa application, they might be able to help you if your case is complex or you require immigration assistance.

Registered migration agents are required to:
• have a sound knowledge of migration law and procedure
• act professionally and in a timely manner
• abide by the Code of Conduct for registered migration agents
• have appropriate insurance
• be a fit and proper person to give immigration assistance and be a person of integrity (this will involve criminal history checks).
If you have a problem with a registered agent, you can make a complaint to the Authority – FIPSA .

Can an interpreter help me when I have my photograph and fingerprints taken?

Can an interpreter help me when I have my photograph and fingerprints taken?

Yes. In South Africa VFS, the officer taking your photograph and fingerprints ( biometrics) will talk to you using an interpreter.
Outside South Africa , you would not usually need an interpreter because the staff member taking your biometrics will speak the local language.

Deportation fear for refugees in Home Affairs dilemma

Daily News / 7 March 2018
Durban – More than 1 000 refugees desperately awaiting citizenship documentation, are living in fear that they will be deported to their war-ravaged countries if the Department of Home Affairs does not get its house in order.
Since May last year, refugees from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia have gone back to the Home Affairs offices every two months, only to be told they would have to return because there were no interpreters to assist them.
Yasmin Rajah, of Refugee Social Services, said the refugees had left their homes because of conflict.
“The South African refugee law states that anyone from outside the country can apply for asylum if they have fled persecution due to political opinion, belonging to a particular social group, race, nationality, religion and if there is generalised conflict in the area.
“They cannot be sent back home until their claim is investigated. Currently, they are not even able to apply and this is leaving people unprotected,” she said.
Rajah explained that those who sought asylum in South Africa had to present themselves at any one of the Refugee Reception Centres around the country.
“They have to give reasons as to why they are seeking refuge.
“They then get a temporary document to say that they have applied for the correct documentation. This prevents police from deporting them,” Rajah said.
Initially, there were people available to assist with translating. Rajah said that there was a central call centre and people who spoke the same language were requested to come on the same day, to make it easier to translate.
“The people who come to us have said there are less people at the call centre.
“So those who have gone for help are told to come back two months later. When they go back two months later, they are sent back. This is causing a backlog,” she said.
Rajah said people were sometimes told that the applications were full.
She said with police and law enforcement agencies pushing Operation Fiela 2 efforts, asylum seekers were living in fear that they would be sent back home.
Rajah said some applicants had had applications declined. However, they were unable to query why they had been turned down.
Rajah said there were also children seeking refuge, which meant they were unable to get into school or have access to basic human rights.
Thandeka Duma, of Lawyers for Human Rights, said they had tried their best to assist those in need.
She said they gave asylum seekers who had faced issues with Home Affairs a letter to state that they had begun the process of seeking the necessary documentation.
“However, this is not a legal document but is merely meant to help. We have dealt with more than 1 000 such cases. These are simply letters of protection. The clients say they are told that Home Affairs is fully booked,” Duma said.
The Department of Home Affairs could not be reached for comment at the time of publication.

Home affairs hypocrisy

09 Mar 2018 – Mail & Guardian
For migrants who have watched the Gupta citizenship saga over the past week, rage does not begin to describe their feelings. This family got what many could not: they found the secret to getting home affairs to do their bidding.
The laissez-faire attitude of Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba, as he summarily stripped the Guptas of their citizenship, then recanted his statement (using his director general as a mouthpiece), was the only thing most African migrants could relate to in this entire situation.
The legality of a migrant’s stay in South Africa is entirely at the whim of incompetent and/or indifferent officials. Your country of origin is an amusement to them, and you should be grateful simply to be here — you should not ask to have your humanity recognised or be treated with kindness, fairness or professionalism.
As for the Guptas’ experience with home affairs, who knew it could be so efficient? Who knew you could be treated in a professional manner without being laughed at for wanting a better life and going about it legally? Who knew you could be granted permits without humiliation, exorbitant costs or unnecessary rigamarole? One prominent family knew. Don’t start getting ideas above your station, though.

Number of ministers able to approve terrorism control orders doubles

09 March 2018 – the Guardian
In Dutton’s Home Affairs, even the assistant minister can order terrorism control orders
Before Dutton’s mega-department the attorney general was responsible for authorising control orders. Photograph: Mike Bowers for the Guardian
The creation of Peter Dutton’s Department of Home Affairs has doubled the number of ministers who can approve terrorism control orders to four and given the power for the first time to an assistant minister, Alex Hawke.
The Attorney General’s Department revealed the expansion of ministers who can approve orders for people to be subject to house arrest and personal surveillance at Senate estimates on Tuesday evening.
The ministers who can now approve the orders are: the home affairs minister, Peter Dutton; the assistant minister for home affairs, Alex Hawke; the minister for citizenship and multicultural affairs, Alan Tudge; and the minister for law enforcement and cybersecurity, Angus Taylor.
Labor’s shadow attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, has warned the revelation shows the creation of the Department of Home Affairs has watered down checks and balances in counter-terrorism legislation and there is no clear basis for the ministers to exercise the authority.
Control orders can stop people leaving Australia, communicating with certain people, accessing technology and force them to remain at a specified premises for a maximum of 12 hours within a 24-hour period, wear a tracking device, and report to a police station.
Courts can issue control orders – on application by the Australian federal police and after ministerial approval – against any person “if it substantially helps prevent a terrorist attack”, meaning no conviction is required.
Before the creation of Dutton’s mega-department the attorney general was responsible for authorising control orders, and the justice minister also had the power.
On Tuesday, Sarah Chidgey, the first assistant secretary of the Attorney General’s Department, told estimates that authorising one minister “authorises all ministers in the portfolio to exercise that power”.
She confirmed it was the first time an assistant minister could approve control orders.
The assistant minister for science, jobs and innovation, Zed Seselja, said that Hawke had been “switched over” to the home affairs department and “wouldn’t have had the powers before”.
Dreyfus told Guardian Australia: “Malcolm Turnbull has handed over control of the Department of Home Affairs to Peter Dutton, who has given three junior ministers, none of whom sit on the National Security Committee, the power to authorise counter-terrorism measures under the criminal code.”
Peter Dutton says detainees trying to force asylum policy change
“These orders restrict the liberty of Australian citizens and, while a necessary tool to combat terrorism in specific circumstances, have only ever been issued by the attorney general in highly sensitive situations,” he said.
“It is wrong that a junior minister like the minister for citizenship and multicultural affairs, who has no responsibility for these national security issues, should be given this significant power merely as a consequence of departmental restructuring.”
Dreyfus said Labor supported “strong measures to combat terrorism” and had worked constructively to make national security legislation “more fit for purpose”.
“In his inept haste to appease the right wing of the Liberal party, however, Mr Turnbull should not erode the important checks and balances in our national security system by downgrading approvals for sensitive counter-terrorism measures to junior ministers.”
The New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties opposes control orders but its president, Stephen Blanks, said if the state is to have such a power to detain people it “should be in the hands of the senior law officer, the attorney general”.
“It is unsatisfactory for the power to approve this order to be in hands of junior ministers or even senior minister like Peter Dutton, who is not a lawyer,” he said.

Lesbian Married Couple Battle South Africa’s Homophobic Dept. of Home Affairs Over Spousal Visa

10 March , 2018 – Autostraddle
Binational lesbian married couple Wendy Kessman, from the United States, and Nomfundo Ngidi, from South Africa, have been dealing with multiple complicated setbacks from South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs over spousal visas, in yet another example of same-sex couples being discriminated against by the South African government despite marriage equality being legalised in November 2006.
The couple, who have been together since 2014, applied for a spousal visa for Kessman soon after their marriage in early 2017. Their application had been initially rejected as Home Affairs had claimed that Kessman had to return to the United States to apply. This claim contradicted earlier advice from Home Affairs that Kessman could apply for a spousal visa while in South Africa, following a 2016 High Court ruling challenging previous rules ordering foreign spouses to apply for and await decisions on spousal visas outside the country as it was deemed to be inconsistent with the Constitution.
In December 2017, after appealing the initial rejection, Kessman and Ngidi were surprised to find that their application for a ‘study visa’ was rejected, given that they didn’t apply for a study visa.
The couple has received support from South African LGBTI groups and media coverage by MambaOnline, a South African LGBTI lifestyle magazine to escalate their case. However, their case may be unsuccessful, based on a phone call from Home Affairs in the past week saying their application will be rejected again.
“It was a horrible call,” said Kessman, speaking to Autostraddle. “[The representative from Home Affairs said] we don’t understand the law, and what we were trying to do was not allowed because the people who our case’s precedence is based off of had different circumstances.” The couple that filed the lawsuit in the 2016 High Court ruling were heterosexual and had four children.
“It’s become apparent throughout that they don’t see us as a family,” Kessman adds.
South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs has come under fire from LGBTQ activists and community members for discriminating against LGBTQ people in their processes. They have rejected calls to remove provisions allowing marriage officers to refuse to marry same-sex couples, though activists were successful in stopping Home Affairs from forcing married trans people to divorce to obtain a change in their gender marker on documentation.
“There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that suggests that homophobia and transphobia plays a role in the process of trying to regularize a person’s stay,” says Matthew Clayton, Research, Advocacy and Policy Coordinator at The Triangle Project, which provides health, support, and other professional services to South Africa’s LGBTI community, such as clinics, counseling, and legal support for survivors of violence. Speaking to Autostraddle, Clayton noted that there is a lack of data on acceptance and rejection rates of spousal visas based on sexuality, and also points out that the issue seems to affect people regardless of country of origin or resources: “I know of lots of people from the US and UK, people who have the resources to hire lawyers and who have employers helping them who sometimes still are not able to stay in South Africa.”
South Africa has had a tenuous relationship with LGBTI people; despite being one of the first countries to call for protection of LGBTI rights, violence and discrimination is rife, especially towards Black lesbians and trans men.
“Currently the laws in South Africa are very progressive and affirming of LGBTI, but the general population have very different ideas,” says Kim Lithgow, founder of PFLAG South Africa, in an email to Autostraddle that also cited a survey stating that 80% of the South African population consider homosexuality to be “always wrong”. “The staff at Home Affairs are known to ‘lose papers/forms’ or drag their feet where possible. It all depends on the branch that you go to. Home Affairs have acknowledged that only a fraction of branches are willing to assist LGBTI in their affairs. It is part of a larger problem in South Africa.”
“The gap between rights and implementation of rights is significant,” adds Kessman. “We are proud of [the] rights we have as an LGBTI married couple, but if they are not implemented they are worthless. Just because you have rights does not mean you have justice.”
The visa limbo has caused significant stress to Kessman and Ndigi’s life, affecting their ability to work, study, or even undertake basic life skills that many take for granted. “It impacts everything — I can’t work, drive, open a bank account, leave the country, go to school, etc,” says Kessman, a researcher of LGBTI lived experiences in the region; she has been accepted for a PhD program based on her research but needs a visa to commence.
Support from family, friends, and community members (including civil rights attorneys, media, politicians, and advocacy organisations), as well as a writers group founded by Kessman are keeping the couple going. “Doing this kind of work allows for some freedom, and I keep in mind I don’t need a visa to write. But still the income is a consistent issue, we need to sustain ourselves through this emotionally and financially draining process. We need those that are willing to take a calculated risk on us, hire us, fund us. It doesn’t just contribute to documentation — it ensures we sustain this fight.”
Kessman and Ngidi are currently awaiting a written rejection from Home Affairs so they can escalate their case to the High Court, hopefully in the next few months. Due to the contradictory advice and long process times from Home Affairs, Kessman has already overstayed her visitor’s visa, which means she isn’t able to leave the country without being disallowed from returning.
“We have to stay and challenge it, and it is our right to,” she says. “We didn’t have a choice to overstay or not, and now we have no choice as to see it all the way through.”