Mar 5, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

LETTER: SA open to migrants

March 03 2015, Business Day Live
LEON Isaacson claims the state is ambivalent about immigrants and alleges that the departments of home affairs and tourism are contradicting each other on the new immigration regulations (State ambivalent over immigrants, Letters, February 24).
He may have overlooked numerous statements Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has made about the regulations and the fact that they are by no means cast in stone.
These regulations were not developed abruptly, as insinuated, but are a product of a thoroughgoing process. The regulations are not about a particular minister. They are more about national priorities.
The Department of a Home Affairs has a complex balancing act to strike. On the one hand, we should strive to make travel as convenient as possible and, on the other, we must be vigilant about national security .
Even then these perceived opposing concerns are not completely independent of each other. Many travellers visit countries in which they feel safe and shy away from those they feel are too risky.
Mr Isaacson’s somewhat melodramatic assertion that home affairs views all immigrants as threats could not be further from the truth. SA remains an attractive destination for immigrants .
We think the writer deliberately omits that the regulations as Mr Gigaba announced allow students to be issued with study visas “for the duration of their studies” — a first for democratic SA. This means that if you are in a learning institution for a five- year degree, we will issue you with a study visa for five years, as opposed to the past, when you had to renew it every year.
We also allow graduates, after successful completion of their studies, to change from study visa to work visa while they are in the country.
Mayihlome Tshwete
Spokesman for the Minister of Home Affairs and Department of Home Affairs

Mar 2, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

No rush at Home Affairs

20 February 2015 – Zululand Observer
WHEN I went to Home Affairs in Richards Bay, the gentleman there would not accept the certified copy of my permanent residence and told me to get a new one.
I filled in all the forms and handed them in at Empangeni to save on the travelling.
I had all the case numbers and paid R200, the receipt of which I still have.
I phoned Pretoria to check the progress, but was told by the lady who answered my call, ‘When I have cleared the 5 000 applications on my desk, I will then do yours.’
A lady faxed all the forms through to Pretoria again for me, my file is still at Empangeni and there has been not one phone call or contact since.
On 27 September it will be five years and still I wait.

Mar 2, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

Home affairs loses millions in courts

By Sibongile Mashaba | Feb 28, 2015 – Soe
THE Department of Home Affairs is wasting millions of taxpayers’ money every year on court cases for matters that could be resolved easily by competent staff.

Last year alone, said Nicola Lochner of Ashman Attorneys – who are in partnership with Immigration South Africa, the department spent more than R100-million on court battles.
She said there had been an increase in the number of cases against the department, which it lost.
According to information on Immigration South Africa website, the department spent R46.3-million on legal costs in the 2011/2012 financial year.
The amount had more than doubled when compared to R21.3-million spent in the previous financial year.
“There are over 2000 cases against the department at the moment. These are cases lodged by institutions, companies or even individuals who are not getting any joy from the department,” said Lochner.
She said most of the cases were taken to court because applicants felt the department was not being fair.
“There aren’t enough staff members at the head office. Applications are done through a private company but get lost when they reach the Department of Home Affairs.
“There is a huge backlog and the department is constantly offline. In most instances, applicants have to go through the process again and pay more money,” said Lochner.
Last week, a businessman won a court battle to have the Department of Home Affairs renew his business permit.
Richard Ndisya, a principal at Rand Training College in Johannesburg, took Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba and the department’s director-general Mkuseli Apleni to court in December last year after officials rejected his application to renew his permit to live and work in this country.
The South Gauteng High Court ordered that the department should review the application and revert to Ndisya within 14 days.
“This did not happen. I had to go back to court in January because they were now in contempt of court. They were given a few more days to get back to me but they did not,” Ndisya said.
He said the matter had cost him a lot of money and time. Ndisya referred Sowetan to his attorney who could not be reached yesterday.
Home Affairs spokesman Mayihlome Tshwete had not responded to requests for comment at the time of going to print.

Mar 2, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

Special visas for BRICS business and diplomatic visitors

Sapa | 26 February, 2015 15:2

Business and diplomatic travellers from South Africa’s BRICS partners will receive port of entry visas into the country, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said on Thursday.
“I have approved the issuance of port of entry visas to BRICS business executives for up to 10 years, with each visit not to exceed 30 days,” he told the Cape Town Press Club.
The visas had been in effect since December 23 last year.
“This applies to diplomatic, official/service, and ordinary passport holders.”
Gigaba said the relevant individuals would receive a long-term visa allowing them multiple entry into the country for the duration of the passport’s validity, not exceeding 10 years.
The department would continue to meet a turnaround time of five days for short-term business visas.
It had consulted extensively with the Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS) business council and the trade and industry department.
Gigaba said the four countries presented an “important investment potential”. Together with South Africa, they comprised 40 percent of the world’s population.
“Business people from Brazil, Russia, India, and China want to come to our country, buy and sell an increasing array of products and services, and invest in our companies and growth sectors,” he said.
“At home affairs we are completely committed to enabling this by facilitating the efficient entry of these commercial visitors, and will continually look for opportunities to improve in this regard.”
The department had not demanded reciprocal arrangements from BRICS partners.
Gigaba smiled when asked if his announcement would anger countries that had long-established trading relationships with South Africa.
“No, every good thing must start somewhere,” he said.
The arrangement may well be extended to other countries which had “significant investments” locally.
“These are issues that you undertake as you improve your systems.”
He said a “trusted traveller system” would be available to business people outside BRICS.
Leisure travellers could extend their visa while in the country, but needed to return home if required to apply for a new visa.
These new regulations had been introduced to counter a “complete abuse” of the local immigration system, which had seen people apply for jobs while on a tourist visa to avoid police clearance and issues with financial statements.
Gigaba said he would soon announce a panel of experts to conduct a complete review of the system used to issue visas.

Mar 2, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

Special visas for Brics business people to foster investment

by Wyndham Hartley, 27 February 2015, Business Day Live
This follows an uproar over new migration regulations since their introduction in June last year, with complaints that requirements for unabridged birth certificates for travelling children and other issues would harm tourism in SA.
It has been reported that tourist arrivals from other Brics countries are dramatically down since the introduction of the new regulations, which require travellers to apply in person for their visas and to provide detailed biometric information.
Speaking at a Cape Town Press Club lunch on Thursday, Mr Gigaba said it was decided in December to allow business people from Brics countries to obtain port of entry visas that were valid for 10 years and allowed multiple entries for 30 days at a time during that period. He also announced that Brics business people could get a visa within five days.
Mr Gigaba said the new regime for Brics came after discussions with the Department of Trade and Industry and the Brics Business Council, and it was anticipated that the move would enhance investment from those countries.
Responding to a question, Mr Gigaba said he did not think the new Brics dispensation would offend some of SA’s traditional trading partners in Britain, elsewhere in Europe, and the US.
At present, these people can obtain visas that are valid for 30 to 90 days.
Mr Gigaba said the Department of Home Affairs was creating a “trusted traveller” dispensation that would ease visa restrictions for those from other parts of the world.
However, the programme was still being developed.
“It could be that in the future, the Brics dispensation could be extended to business people from other countries with significant investment in SA.”
The minister said the Brics countries were responsible for 25% of global gross domestic product and that SA was a strategic entry point for other Brics countries into Africa.
Mr Gigaba again defended the provision that if visitors to SA wanted to change the type of visa they had, they would have to return to their home country to do so.
But a visa could be extended while the traveller was in SA.
He said there were occasions when employees of large companies entered the country on tourist visas, then applied for jobs, and “our sense is that this was done knowingly to avoid compliance with the new regulations, and that abuse had to end”.
Mr Gigaba promised that the panel of experts due to review the migration regime would be announced soon, but stressed that it would not review the regulations or migration law but rather the systems that applied to the process of granting visas.
He also defended the provision that travelling children should have unabridged birth certificates as well as an order of court if one parent did not approve of the child travelling.
He said if an abducted child were to travel with the permission of home affairs, the department would be vulnerable to civil action in the courts.

Mar 2, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

Special visas for Brics business people to foster investment

by Wyndham Hartley, 27 February 2015, Business Day Live
This follows an uproar over new migration regulations since their introduction in June last year, with complaints that requirements for unabridged birth certificates for travelling children and other issues would harm tourism in SA.
It has been reported that tourist arrivals from other Brics countries are dramatically down since the introduction of the new regulations, which require travellers to apply in person for their visas and to provide detailed biometric information.
Speaking at a Cape Town Press Club lunch on Thursday, Mr Gigaba said it was decided in December to allow business people from Brics countries to obtain port of entry visas that were valid for 10 years and allowed multiple entries for 30 days at a time during that period. He also announced that Brics business people could get a visa within five days.
Mr Gigaba said the new regime for Brics came after discussions with the Department of Trade and Industry and the Brics Business Council, and it was anticipated that the move would enhance investment from those countries.
Responding to a question, Mr Gigaba said he did not think the new Brics dispensation would offend some of SA’s traditional trading partners in Britain, elsewhere in Europe, and the US.
At present, these people can obtain visas that are valid for 30 to 90 days.
Mr Gigaba said the Department of Home Affairs was creating a “trusted traveller” dispensation that would ease visa restrictions for those from other parts of the world.
However, the programme was still being developed.
“It could be that in the future, the Brics dispensation could be extended to business people from other countries with significant investment in SA.”
The minister said the Brics countries were responsible for 25% of global gross domestic product and that SA was a strategic entry point for other Brics countries into Africa.
Mr Gigaba again defended the provision that if visitors to SA wanted to change the type of visa they had, they would have to return to their home country to do so.
But a visa could be extended while the traveller was in SA.
He said there were occasions when employees of large companies entered the country on tourist visas, then applied for jobs, and “our sense is that this was done knowingly to avoid compliance with the new regulations, and that abuse had to end”.
Mr Gigaba promised that the panel of experts due to review the migration regime would be announced soon, but stressed that it would not review the regulations or migration law but rather the systems that applied to the process of granting visas.
He also defended the provision that travelling children should have unabridged birth certificates as well as an order of court if one parent did not approve of the child travelling.
He said if an abducted child were to travel with the permission of home affairs, the department would be vulnerable to civil action in the courts.

Mar 2, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

Frustrated SA expat family: We’re being punished for birth certificate delay

2015-02-26 10:02 – Selene Brophy – Traveller 24
An expat family in Doha, Qatar says they’re facing daily fines because their new-born baby has not been able to secure an unabridged birth certificate or the necessary travel documents.
Cape Town – Zaahir Hallow and his family are South African citizens living and working abroad in Qatar.
He says he has been out of South Africa for almost seven and a half years, trying to earn a living and make a better life for himself and his family.
But for Hallow, the move was never about relinquishing SA citizenship.
Far from it, he says.
Although his family has been out of South Africa and living abroad, says Hallow, they remain Proudly South African.
“SA is our home and we are making the sacrifice to be away from it, so that we can earn a better living and provide a better life for our children.”
And it is the identity of Hallow’s youngest child that has him quite distressed.
The right to Nationality or Qatari Citizenship is reserved for Qatari citizens only, so any expat child born in the country does not qualify for citizenship. However questionable Qatar’s guest worker rules and regulations may seem it is designed in order to protect one of the richest countries per capita in the world. The same rules apply for all Gulf Co-operative Countries, including the UAE and Bahrain.
“Since leaving South Africa, I have had two more children in Qatar and my family has grown to six; my wife, my three beautiful daughters Aaliyah (8), Misha (7), Ameena (3-months-old) and my son and Abdurahman (3).
Hallow says both Ameena and Abdurahman were born in a state hospital in Doha.
As an expat birth, Hallow had to register his children with the local ministry of interior in Doha, as well as with the Department of Home Affairs in order to obtain their birth certificates and the necessary travel documents for his children to legally remain in Qatar.
And it is here that Hallow believes the plight of Expats needs to be highlighted.
Hallow told Traveller24 Ameena was born on the 27th October 2014 and despite the initial application having been submitted to the SA Embassy on the 29th October and the documents having been sent via the Diplomatic Postal Bag at beginning of November – to date nothing has arrived.
“We went through this process with our son, and even though it took a few months for the original official documents to arrive via the Diplomatic Mission, we were still able to obtain a temporary South African passport for him, that allowed us to travel as a family.”
South Africa stopped issuing temporary passports as of 1 September 2014. Every expat living or born in Qatar has to have a residency visa issued and inserted into their passports.
While the older children have already had the opportunity to travel to South Africa, Hallow says it is the new born who is not recognized as a citizen of anywhere, as she does not possess a South African birth certificate or passport.
“This has been quite distressing for our entire family as we are not able to leave Qatar or return home to SA as she does not possess the necessary travel documents.”
“All we have been told by SA Embassy staff is that ‘her application is in process’ and there is nothing that they can do.
Hallow says he cannot understand the lengthy delay in issuing a passport to SA Nationals who are out of the country, since it usually takes less than three weeks to renew a passport from inside South Africa.
“We have been told that it will take up to 6 months for her documents to be processed, but what the SA home affairs department doesn’t realize is that we are fined huge amounts for every day that our daughter stays in Qatar without a passport or visa.
“And there is nothing that we can do about it,” says Hallow
The Qatari ministry of interior issues a grace period of two months to allow for the registration and issuing of passports to new-borns. But this period has long since ended and the Hallows have been fined QR10 (about ZAR33) per day for late Residency Visa registration.
That works out to roughly R1 000 per month for each of the two months overdue or an expected R6 000 if they do have to wait the maximum six-month period as stated.
“Some families have waited for more than six months to get a passport, and in one case that I know of the family waited up to 18 months to get the child’s birth certificate.
“However, the family was able to get a temporary passport from the Embassy, which at that stage was still authorized to issue temporary passports back then.
Traveller24 contacted the department of home affairs, highlighting the plight of the Hallows family.
The Department of Home Affairs spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete said he would look into the matter and get back to Traveller24 to confirm what the issue was.
Tshwete said the department was trying its best to provide services as effectively and efficiently as possible but admitted that turn-around times were a big issue.
He attributed it to the fact the department’s systems are not modernised.
“In some instances you literally have somebody who has to go through a warehouse of files in order to produce the required document. This unfortunately is very time consuming, but the department is looking at a complete system overhaul. It is quite a process and could take up to a year to complete.
“You’ll note the turnaround with smartcard IDs has improved. Previously it would take three months to issue but this has been reduced to two weeks. So there is definitely an improvement in turnaround,” Tshwete said.
According to Hallow this is not an isolated incident, describing his experiences with other South African families living abroad in Qatar saying documents have been “lost, or delayed for more than a year”.
“The frustration we feel is felt by many expats living abroad and this is not only related to Birth Certificates and Passports, as getting documents certified and attested is an administrative nightmare.

“The Government is very quick to accept the funds we pump back into the country, and they are even quicker to gather votes from all of us abroad, but when it comes to providing a decent Constitutional right to Identity, then innocent children and families are being punished.”