Jul 16, 2014 - General, Visa    No Comments

South Africa: Minister’s Plans to Modernise Home Affairs

15 July 2014  = All Africa

Cape Town — Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba says developing a new cadre of professional officials, modernising the department and contributing to economic growth are top on his list of priorities.

The Minister is expected to table his Budget Vote speech today, along with several other departments, including Mineral Resources, Justice and Correctional Services, Human Settlements, Transport and the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) – at the National Assembly.

The budget votes are tabled to reveal the department’s strategic plan of action for the financial year ahead.

Briefing journalists at the Imbizo Centre in Parliament, Minister Gigaba said service delivery was top of his list, and that his department would pull out all the stops to ensure that the department carries out its duties “effectively”.

“Government objectives, including the National Development Plan (NDP), require that Home Affairs deliver effectively on its core mission to enhance the nation’s security, and enable socio-economic development.

“The [department] is dedicated to fulfilling its mission of determining and safeguarding the identity and status of all citizens, and regulating immigration to ensure security, promote development and fulfil our international obligations,” he said.

He said part of the department’s priorities for the 2014/15 financial year included:

Producing a secured South African citizenship and identity;

Modernising Home Affairs;

Establishing a secured and responsive immigration system;

Contributing to economic development and tourism; and

Developing a cadre of professional, committed officials through learning and development.

The Minister said the speech would also highlight major achievements of the past year and also address major developments going forward.

“This includes programmes of work being undertaken by the department, as well as policy development focus areas,” he said.

Minister Gigaba said the task of ensuring development of Home Affairs employees would no longer be left to the Director-General and the Deputy Director-General of the department.

He said the department’s Deputy Minister Fatima Chohan would now oversee a process of having staffers at the forefront of service delivery being taken through a leadership academy to enhance their courtesy, professionalism and skills. – SAnews.gov.za

Jul 9, 2014 - General, Visa    No Comments

South Africa: Tourism Committee Pleased With Visa Law Explanation

By Sibongile Maputi, 7 July 2014

The Portfolio Committee on Tourism has commended the Minister of Home Affairs Mr Malusi Gigaba for his willingness to explain the new visa regulations to the media.

“The Minister of Home Affairs has been on AM Live, and hopefully the clarification he provided will calm the nerves in the industry. We also hope the minister’s explanation will also clear the issues around the regulations and how it will affect the sector,” said Committee chairperson Ms Beatrice Ngcobo.

She added: “It is also pleasing that there are currently two international sporting events taking place in the country.”

The comment was made at a meeting with the Department of Tourism and SA Tourism on Friday. This follows an outcry from the tourism sector regarding the impact the new visa regulations would have on the industry. Both the Minister Mr Derek Hanekom and Deputy Minister Ms Tokozile Xaso attended the meeting.

Members of the Committee also sought clarity on other issues such as the grading council, growing domestic tourism, and whether the previously disadvantaged benefitted from the boom in the tourism industry.

Director-General Mr Kingsley Makhubele indicated that R100 million would be channelled towards marketing tourism next year. The contribution the sector made to the Gross Domestic Product amounted to more than R100 billion annually.

Jul 9, 2014 - Business Permit, General, Visa    No Comments

Discriminatory immigration rules are absurd

by Steven Friedman, 09 July 2014, 06:02 Business Day Live

THE nightclub bouncer approach to immigration is doing us more harm than good. Two families that recently won court orders overturning the refusal of the Department of Home Affairs to allow foreign nationals married to South Africans back into the country won widespread sympathy. And so they should — preventing people living with their families because they were born elsewhere causes needless pain and embarrasses the society. But there is little similar sympathy for hundreds of thousands of citizens of other countries who live here but are subject to legal restriction, endless harassment and violence.

The immigrants for whom the mainstream has no sympathy do not usually live in suburbs. They are from elsewhere in Africa or from Asia and do not look or sound like suburban residents.

We are told repeatedly that “xenophobia” is a problem here. This suggests that the problem is a general fear of foreigners. But the “anti-immigrant” attitudes and the laws that both create and reflect them are selective: they are supposed to allow in those foreigners we want and keep out those who we don’t.

So our law and debate don’t dislike all foreigners — like a nightclub bouncer, they want to let in those who look respectable and keep out those who don’t. Why, then, are the rules applied in ways that hassle middle-class people, which seems set to continue as home affairs has now proudly hired the company that makes life miserable for people who apply for British visas?

If you start labelling some immigrants a threat, you are likely to create the impression that all are, particularly as it isn’t done to admit that you want to keep out only people who aren’t like you. The nightclub bouncer approach ends up hurting everyone.

Immigration laws now are less strict than they were a few years ago — but only if the person seeking to live here is wanted by a formal employer. In theory, the law does not seem to discriminate — people who don’t have a job offer are allowed in if they have skills not available here or want to start a business. But, in practice, this is open to discrimination. Builders from Mozambique or mechanics from Zimbabwe may have skills we need but they can easily be denied legal status on the grounds that we have our own people in these work categories. And who decides what a business is? Activities that are productive but don’t meet the culturally biased standard for a “business” will probably be excluded.

The public debate reflects this bias. Much ire is directed at foreigners who trade in townships and shack settlements, and very little or none at those who occupy professional jobs in the suburbs. Far more anger is directed at people from Africa and Asia than at those from Europe and North America.

This may not be particularly South African. “Anti-immigrant” sentiment is fuelling right-wing parties in much of Europe and North America. And again, the problem may be not a general fear of people from elsewhere as of some people.

In the UK, the “anti-immigrant” UK Independence Party has no problem with hundreds of thousands of white South African or Australian immigrants — some of its candidates for office are whites from SA. The targets are Eastern Europeans, Asians and Africans. In the US, it is taken for granted that hostility to immigrants is really directed at Latinos.

But the fact that our society’s hang-up is shared with others does not make it any less dangerous, for ourselves as well as others. Letting in nice middle-class immigrants and excluding the rest is not only a human rights abuse — it is economic nonsense.

Studies show repeatedly that immigrants are, everywhere, an economic asset. The skills and energies they bring far outweigh the resources they consume. Ironically, most societies that now erect walls to keep foreigners out were built by immigrants. This is so whether or not the new entrants are middle-class and suburban — the immigrants who built societies were neither. They were desperately poor, which is why they worked harder and longer.

Studies of immigrants from elsewhere in Africa here show that, across the board, they are a net gain for the society because they bring more wealth than they consume. Trying to welcome some immigrants only is self-defeating.

First, it usually ends up lumping together those who are wanted with those who aren’t. Second, those who aren’t wanted have skills and energies we need. By trying to exclude them, we are hurting ourselves.

If we are to end not only the immigration absurdities to which middle class people are exposed but also the violence against productive and hard-working immigrants, our law and debate needs to send out a very different message about foreigners. We need to see them as an asset, not a threat, whatever their country of origin.

Representation of Overstay Disagree

08 July 2014, 13:27

Representation of Overstay Disagree

Jovan Velanac and Uros Velanac, who are stay in Johannesburg with their parents, where declared as undesirable persons on July 02,2014  when they were leaving the country on their way to Republic Of Serbia.

They have signed Declaration of foreigner as undesirable persons, overstayed by 53 days. (Children are 16 years old).

We collected all the required documents for submitting an application for temporary residence, extension of work permit (visa) ,and Home Affairs accepted April,10 2014  for  Dara Velanac (mother) and children to be accompany to her.

As we knew that parents (children) extended residence permit would already expire on the May,10 2014, we asked at the Home Affairs Office in Randburg, as well as the Office in Pretoria (phone call).

We asked,would children still be able to leave the country and return to the South Africa  in the meantime or if they have to remain in South Africa and wait for the outcome application, which are still pending.

Advice, we (parents) received from the spokesperson of Department of Home Affairs, that travel out and in South Africa is legal with Acknowledge of Receipt, because for the “people who applied (their mother) before the new law came into operation ,application still stand ,and will not be subject to the new rules ,means the new law does not apply retrospectively.”

Children were invited by Serbian community in collaboration with the Serbian Orthodox Church St. Toma, The Serbian Embassy (Pretoria) and Serbian school St. Sava in Johannesburg to represent South Africa in Traditional Dance (together with 15 boys and girls) and visit Republic of Serbia from July,02   until   July,20  2014.

On July 02 ,2014 children  checked in at Tambo International Airport  to visit Republic of Serbia, and presented their passport t.

Immigration Officer informed children and guardian that the regulations had changed on and that children would now be banned from the RSA without parents knowledge  ,and given document to children to sign (they are 16 years old).

The following list has the purpose of showing you good causes why children should not be banned and not to be an undesirable persons to the RSA.

1) Throughout all family entire applications process we have follow all instructions from the Department of Home Affairs. (include last 6 years)

2)We submitted all applications in time ,and Sinisa Velanac (father) have valid work permit ref. No JHB 14522/2013/TRV  issued at Head Office on July,29  2013.

3)  Home Affairs in Randburg and in Pretoria advise children’s parents still be able to leave the country and return to the South Africa , while still waiting for the outcome of applications.

4) It is contradictory to stay in the country even without a valid permit-visa and then punish children for overstaying parents permit- visa and wait for the outcome application, which are still pending 3 months period .

5) Never in South Africa, not in any other country our family – CHILDREN ever committed any crime or acted in contradiction to the law.

6) Children attending school King Edwards VII,Houghton,11 class and also finished primary school Pridwin, in Melrose, Johannesburg.

7) Parents and are not advised and contents of this notice didn’t interpreted to guardian to understand explanation that children found declared undesirable of the fallowing overstayed not be able to come back at home in South Africa

8) Declaration of foreigner as undesirable person is signed by the children who are 16 years old, without any other signed document from guardian and parents.

9) Children suppose not to be deported back to origin of country-Serbia, because they are minors (16 years old),without parents or guardian permission and have no one to welcome them and give them safety and accommodation. Their parents and home is here, in South Africa.

 

We are  confident  that the above mentioned will convince you that children cannot be considered as an undesirable persons and therefore should not be prohibited from re-entering the country.

We are looking forward to a positive outcome of this appeal and remain with our

Sincere regards,

Family  ,SinisaVelanac (father)                 Dara Velanac (mother)

Gigaba: State to avoid bad immigration impact

Gigaba: State to avoid bad immigration impact
July 4 2014 at 01:25pm

Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba. Picture: Sarah Makoe.
Johannesburg – Discussion on the new immigration regulations will continue and problems will be tested to prevent negative impacts on the economy, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said on Friday.
“Our doors are not closed. We are open to further engagement on the consequences. You can never introduce new regulations that are perfect and will work,” he said at The New Age’s televised breakfast briefing in Midrand.
“You have to expect that there would be challenges and we are open to testing those on the ground if there is a need to change anything. We are open to continuous engagement with the different parties… because we wouldn’t want these regulations to have a negative impact on tourism and other elements of our economic growth and development.”
The regulations, which came into effect in May, introduce a new visa regime for South Africa.
It outlines a clear distinction between short-stay visas and long-stay permanent residence permits.
It also stipulates that visa applications need to be made by applicants in person, and those wanting to change the status of their visa can no longer do so in South Africa but have to do so at missions abroad.
Gigaba said officials in foreign missions were being trained on the implementation of the legislation.
“We are moving into a new era of immigration management… It imposes on us to be proactive and it will bring many positive processes to our country. One of the issues is how to manage national security,” he said.
Gigaba said he understood the problems businesses were facing with regard to the implementation of the new regulations.
“We will test existing legislation with the policy framework we are going to bring about. It is at an advanced stage.”
He said he was pleased with the reaction to the new legislation as it showed that people were participating in the process.
“I’m very happy about the public discourse around the new legislation because it says that South Africans, not only academics and practitioners are being involved in the process, but ordinary South Africans are being drawn in.
“The reaction we got was that some people have rejected it completely without considering that there are positives, and sometimes people reject the legislation when the real issue is about the implementation, and so the regulations themselves don’t pose a problem.”
Gigaba’s department would also appeal a court case it lost last month in the Western Cape High Court in favour of two people separated from their spouses because of immigration laws.
“We are appealing it because we believe we are correct in our approach,” he told delegates at the briefing.
According to the SABC on June 30, Brent Johnson and Cherene Delorie took the department to court to challenge what they called “unconstitutional legislation” governing visa applications.
Their foreign partners were branded undesirable and barred entry into South Africa.
Home affairs said this was after they failed to follow due process when renewing their visas earlier in 2014.
Judge James Yekiso ruled that the status of undesirability over Johnson’s wife and son who are in Denmark, and Delorie’s husband who is in Zimbabwe, be suspended and they be allowed to return to South Africa.
The briefing was screened on SABC2. – Sapa

 

GroundUp: ‘Incomprehensible’ that Home Affairs declared 5-year-old undesirable

GroundUp: ‘Incomprehensible’ that Home Affairs declared 5-year-old undesirable
• GroundUp maverick,co.za

A recent wave of litigation against Home Affairs following the unheralded implementation of new immigration regulations on 26 May 2014 continued on Friday in Western Cape High Court. By Katy Osborn for GROUNDUP.
This time, immigration attorney Craig Smith represented the five-year-old daughter of South African permanent residents Robert and Lindy Steele. Home Affairs declared the Steele’s daughter “undesirable” on her way out of the country on 24 June 2014 as she was travelling with her family to Turkey.
Friday’s presiding judge, Justice Gamble, called the declaration “incomprehensible”. Gamble said, “It’s one thing for an exotic dancer to be caught up like this, but it’s another thing for a five-year-old.”
Though short-term relief by the court allowed the Steeles to successfully return to Johannesburg last night, the long-term status of their daughter remains to be seen. Part B of their court application argues that the new immigration regulations are unconstitutional and asks that the young Steele’s status of undesirability be revoked. This is scheduled to appear before the High Court on or around 26 August 2014.
The outcome will be one with widespread implications. Under Regulation 27 of the new immigration laws, thousands of other visa overstayers face being declared “undesirable” and having their rights to re-enter South Africa in case of departure suspended. Particularly in combination with the fresh stipulation that new visas must be applied for from one’s home country, these laws are quickly rendering legal recourse the only—albeit often unaffordable—option for many. Smith told GroundUp that the Steeles’ application will probably be consolidated with countless others across the country.
Friday’s court appearance follows Judge James Yekiso’s landmark ruling in favour of Brent Johnson and Cherene Delorie on 1 July in the Western Cape High Court. Yekiso ruled that Johnson and Delorie, both South African citizens whose foreign spouses had been declared “undesirable” and barred from re-entering South Africa after overstaying their visas, were not a threat to national security and had “plainly suffered prejudice”.
Delorie’s husband, Zimbabwean citizen David Henderson, and Johnson’s Danish wife Louise Henriksen Egedal-Johnson, were, like Steele, granted short-term relief and allowed to rejoin their families in South Africa.
“These laws are affecting the wrong people,” Smith said of both cases, arguing that Home Affairs’ energy would be better concentrated on border posts. Home Affairs has responded by calling the applications “premature,” arguing that they “did not allow internal processes to take their natural course.”
“We ask only for the opportunity to respond reasonably,” said Home Affairs’ legal representative in the Johnson case. But over 1,000 immigrants filed an urgent application to the Western Cape High Court last week, insisting that their permit applications be processed. At a business briefing hosted by The New Age and Transnet on Friday, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said that his department had plans to appeal the Johnson ruling.
Though frustrated by the prospect of “another case where we have to seek relief from the court rather than internal relief,” Smith urges others affected by the new immigration laws to “be vigilant and persevere”.
“Had the department properly applied its mind when making these new laws or considering these applications,” he said, “this could all have been avoided.” DM

 

SA adopts stateless baby

The Times – Nomahlubi Jordaan | 08 July, 2014 00:01

 

After a six-year legal battle, a girl born in South Africa to Cuban parents has a country she can call home.

Yesterday, the girl’s mother said she was able to sleep again after the Pretoria High Court last week ruled that her daughter was a South African citizen, and that the Department of Home Affairs had acted unlawfully by not registering her as such.

The Cape Town family – with the help of nonprofit organisation Lawyers for Human Rights – went to court after both South Africa and Cuba refused the child citizenship.

In 2008, when the child was born in Cape Town, the Department of Home Affairs issued a birth certificate but not an identity number because her parents did not have permanent residency at the time.

Cuba also refused to recognise the child because her parents had been absent from their home country for more than 11 months.

Without an identity number, the parents could not obtain a passport on which the girl could travel to meet her family in Cuba, and her parents could not look for jobs in other countries unless they left her in South Africa.

“We were stuck here in South Africa,” the child’s mother said. “I lost several job opportunities overseas. Her father lost a job opportunity in Brazil.”

The lack of an ID also made the child vulnerable.

“I was not able to prove who my daughter was without a DNA test,” the mother said.

In its ruling, the court ordered the Department of Home Affairs to enter the girl’s name in the national population register, issue her with a South African identity document and re-issue her birth certificate with an identity number.

The court further ordered that a regulation be made under the SA Citizenship Act to ensure that other families do not have to go through a similar nightmare.

Lawyers for Human Rights argued that the department was violating the child’s constitutional right to “a name and nationality from birth”.

“The violation of her rights will only increase as she becomes older and tries to write her matric, apply to university, open a bank account and access a range of other social services and rights,” the organisation said in a letter to the department.

In its reply, the department said the child qualified to be issued with a permit for permanent residence, but the parents were demanding that she receive citizenship.

The department opposed the court application but failed to file an opposing affidavit.

The girl’s mother said she was relieved that her child had a home.

“I feel that justice has been done at last; no child should be exposed to the condition of being stateless. It goes against human rights.

“My child, like anyone else, has the right to citizenship at birth, to have a homeland.”