Articles

Articles

13. Sep. 2023 Daily Maverick

South Africa’s visa regime keeps out badly needed skilled workers


The government is blocking the potential that foreign workers can bring to South Africa’s stagnant economy.
South Africa’s work visa regime is laborious, lengthy and inefficient. The process deters foreign investment, widens the skills gap and throttles productivity, economic growth and development.
Between 2015 and 2021, only 16,097 critical skilled-worker permits were approved by the Department of Home Affairs. At an average of just more than 2,200 a year, that amounts to a rejection rate of 52%, for an economy with a sizeable skills deficit. The business visa rejection rate over the same period is even higher, at 68%.
Some German companies have decided to sell their South African subsidiaries since they cannot get executive work permits. And despite the absence of skilled workers, technicians can’t get work visas, contributing to the construction and maintenance problems at the country’s electricity and transport parastatals, Eskom and Transnet.
The home affairs and labour departments ` the two key players in this bureaucratic obfuscation ` seem impervious to how much they undermine the Presidency’s and other government efforts to attract foreign direct investment and grow the economy. Since the Cabinet’s 2020 decision to streamline the work visa process, there has been little indication of any movement.
Getting a South African work permit is laden with bureaucratic hurdles. Permits appear only to be granted through the critical skills process, which is based on the Department of Labour’s International/Cross-Border Labour Migration checklist.
Home Affairs’s critical skills list of 140 occupations is incomplete ` just as any effort to document every skills deficit would be ` given the pace of growing economic complexity in a world of artificial intelligence and renewable energy. Regional organisations such as the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) and most academic institutions value a diverse staffing composition, which isn’t allowed under the current system.
Reasons for rejections are spurious, often based on ‘missing documents’ that were in fact supplied.
One of the 22 critical skills visa requirements is that the employer must prove that no citizen or permanent resident with the required qualifications, skills and experience is domestically available. The high cost of advertising and other requirements makes this an expensive exercise.
For instance, a police clearance certificate has to be obtained in an applicant’s country of origin. Applying in South Africa is possible but costly. For a critical skills visa, a person’s qualification must be verified by the South African Qualifications Authority, which can take more than six months. Applicants must first register with a professional body in South Africa, which, outside of fields like law, engineering and medicine, is difficult if not impossible.
Securing an application appointment (usually through VFS Global) can take up to three months. A prospective ISS employee recently arrived at the appointed time but was turned away because Home Affairs’s backlog was too great. Although critical skills applications are expected to take eight weeks, ISS sometimes waits a year or more.
Even after a long waiting period there is no guarantee of success. Reasons for rejections are spurious, often based on “missing documents” that were in fact supplied. Home Affairs rejects many visas based on a “negative recommendation from the Department of Labour”. Applicants then have 10 days to appeal, but the only real recourse is an expensive legal challenge.
One prospective ISS employee could not travel for more than a year while his passport was being held as part of his skilled work permit application. Those applying through VFS could, in theory, get their passports back by providing a written motivation.
Also, the certification of documents by a commissioner of oaths is valid for only three months. Those whose applications are not processed within this period are sometimes denied visas for expired documents or called to recertify and resubmit ` if they are lucky.
Even short-term visitor and business visas are a problem. African and international organisations we work with now refrain from hosting events or meetings in South Africa, meaning the country loses revenue from the lucrative event and conference business.
Online applications should be the norm, but the country’s IT system upgrade has been several years in the works.
Another major problem is that spouses of critical skills visa holders are not allowed to work in South Africa, requiring them to put their careers on hold. The only alternative for a spouse is to apply for permanent residence, which can take at least five years.
Matter of urgency
A 2018 study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the International Labour Organization found that immigrant workers may increase South Africa’s gross domestic product per capita by 5%. Similarly, a 2018 World Bank report found that immigrants in South Africa positively impacted employment and wages for locals, generating about two jobs for every migrant.
South Africa must urgently reduce the time frames and simplify the procedures for obtaining work visas. Online applications should be the norm, but the country’s IT system upgrade has been several years in the works. Immigration regulations should also allow foreign spouses with dependent (spouse) visas to work in South Africa.
In 2022, former home affairs director-general Mavuso Msimang recommended that the 22 requirements for skilled work permits be reduced to eight, with a lower compliance threshold and a two-week time frame.
Several years before, the 2017 White Paper on International Migration for South Africa stated that the “attraction and retention of skilled international migrants and business persons who contribute positively to the economy” is one of seven key outcomes. It confirms that the country can’t attract and retain sought-after international skilled and business persons, who play a role in promoting economic growth.
Neither Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi nor Minister of Employment and Labour Thulas Nxesi appear willing to move forward. Instead, they have adopted a punitive approach to foreigners, skilled and unskilled alike. It is time for an upgrade



V.4982
18. Jul. 2024 Businesstech

Foreigners are loving life in South Africa but they still have one big worry

Expats’ happiness with their lives in South Africa has improved considerably over the past year, but they still face several pressing issues, particularly those related to safety. This is according to the latest Expat Insider 2024 survey by InterNations, where South Africa ranks 29th out of 53 countries in the overall rankings of “Best Destinations for Expats in 2024.” This is a 19-spot improvement from 2023, climbing out of the bottom 10 after spending four consecutive years there. “In early 2024, more than 12,500 expats from around the world shared with us their thoughts on what it’s like to live and work abroad [representing] 175 nationalities living in 174 countries or territories,” said InterNations. V.5496

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18. Jul. 2024 My Broadband

New smart ID cards and passports for South Africa

Newly appointed Home Affairs Minister Dr Leon Schreiber has announced that South Africa’s Smart ID cards and passports will be updated with enhanced security features in the coming years. Schreiber announced the development in the Department of Home Affairs’ 2024/2025 budget vote speech on Monday. “Both the passport and smart ID card will be refreshed and updated in order to enhance the security features of these documents, with the aim of building trust by more countries and organisations worldwide,” said Schreiber. While Schreiber did not provide a specific date for the changes, he said the documents would be updated “during the current administration”. Barring an unprecedented early election, the current administration is set to serve until the next general elections in 2029. V.5497

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18. Jul. 2024 News24

Asylum seekers fear arrest but can`t access documents

Thousands of people coming into South Africa from war-torn countries or countries rife with political unrest say they live in constant fear of being arrested.This is despite their numerous attempts, some since 2020, to apply for asylum at the Department of Home Affairs. Leaders of immigrant communities in Diepsloot, Gauteng, say they are aware of at least 15 people currently being held at the Lindela Repatriation Centre due to their inability to apply for asylum documents. An Ethiopian man who has been living and working in Diepsloot, Gauteng, for nearly four years says he fears being arrested each time he walks out of his home because he has been struggling for years to get legal asylum documents, GroundUp reports. V.5498

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17. Jul. 2024 Businesstech

South Africa’s massive visa backlog hits over 200,000

South Africa’s new minister of Home Affairs, Leon Schreiber, says that the department is making headway in reducing its massive visa backlog, which has been cut to around 213,000 applications. Schreiber, who took over as minister as part of the Government of National Unity in June, said that the department has set up a dedicated team to reduce the backlog and has cut through 92,886 applications out of a total of 306,042. “This is a reduction of 30%. But we must do more because clearing this backlog is the only way to avoid another extension of the concession on visas, waivers and appeals that have already been granted three times,” he said. V.5493

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17. Jul. 2024 Daily Mavrick

Five key takeaways from Home Affairs Minister Leon Schreiber’s maiden budget vote speech

Leon Schreiber laid out his priorities as Minister of Home Affairs during his maiden budget vote speech in Parliament on Monday, saying his department would prioritise, among other things, dealing with the visa backlog and stabilising the department’s online system. The Department of Home Affairs has a budget of R10.49-billion for the 2024/25 financial year - a slight increase from R9.75-billion in the previous financial year. Schreiber’s speech covered five key issues. Visa backlog Schreiber said the department had assigned a “dedicated team” to deal with the permit backlog. V.5495

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16. Jul. 2024 The Citizen

Home Affairs to intensify inspections at restaurants, farms for illegal employment

Schreiber said he would reach out to the departments, including the South African Police Service (Saps), for joint operations. Leon Schreiber, minister of Home Affairs, during the swearing-in ceremony of the new national executive members at Cape Town International Convention Centre on 3 July, 2024 in Cape Town. Home Affairs Leon Schreiber says in the coming year, the department will intensify inspections at restaurants, spaza shops, farms and mines by over 50% to take action, including deportations, against people who are illegally employed. V.5491

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16. Jul. 2024 The Citizen

Home Affairs to intensify inspections at restaurants, farms for illegal employment

Schreiber said he would reach out to the departments, including the South African Police Service (Saps), for joint operations. Leon Schreiber, minister of Home Affairs, during the swearing-in ceremony of the new national executive members at Cape Town International Convention Centre on 3 July, 2024 in Cape Town. Home Affairs Leon Schreiber says in the coming year, the department will intensify inspections at restaurants, spaza shops, farms and mines by over 50% to take action, including deportations, against people who are illegally employed. V.5492

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15. Jul. 2024 The Pie News

Australia’s Home Affairs pledges reforms after agent failures

Australia’s Home Affairs has pledged to improve oversight and timeliness in regulating migration agents by June 2025, after an audit exposed major flaws. The Department for Home Affairs expects that all ANAO recommendations will be implemented by 30 June 2025. The Australian National Audit Office released a report in May, in which it raised serious concerns regarding the processes of the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority - an office within the Department of Home Affairs. The report found the department’s regulation of migration agents to be ineffective, stating that “appropriate arrangements are not in place to support the regulation of migration agents” and that migration agents in Australia are not currently “effectively regulated”. V.5485

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15. Jul. 2024 News 24

Visa extension for foreign workers raises ire of home affairs committee worried about `capacity`

• The Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs is not entirely happy with newly appointed Home Affairs Minister Leon Schreiber`s decision to extend the temporary concession for foreign nationals awaiting their visas. • Several MPs serving on the committee raised concerns about capacity to ensure that undocumented individuals are deported. • The committee also wants home affairs officials to join operations targeting spaza shops engaged in illicit activities more frequently. Extending the visas of foreign nationals already in South Africa shifts focus and resources away from the needs of citizens. This is according to the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs after newly appointed Home Affairs Minister Leon Schreiber`s decision to extend the temporary concession for foreign nationals who are currently awaiting the outcome of visa, waiver and appeal applications. V.5486

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15. Jul. 2024 Cape Town Today

A Paradigm Shift in South Africa’s Passport Influence: An In-depth Analysis of its Worldwide Reach

passport holders can travel without visas to 35 African nations, 18 countries in the Americas, 17 in Asia, 16 in the Caribbean, 3 in Europe, 8 in the Middle East and 10 in Oceania. However, recent changes to visa regulations, such as Ireland’s adjustment, have reduced their global influence. South Africans should stay informed about evolving visa regulations to make the most of their passport’s opportunities. What visa-free travel destinations are available for South African passport holders? South Africans can travel without a visa to 35 African nations, 18 countries in the Americas, 17 in Asia, 16 in the Caribbean, 3 in Europe, 8 in the Middle East and 10 in Oceania. However, recent changes to visa regulations for South Africans, such as Ireland’s adjustment, have reduced their global influence. It is important for South Africans to stay informed about evolving visa regulations. V.5487

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15. Jul. 2024 News 24

Fixing Home Affairs will be a mountain to climb

One day after he was sworn in as the new Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Leon Schreiber made a range of announcements regarding extending temporary visa concessions and other arrangements affecting legal foreign nationals in South Africa. It drew attention to him as one of the six new ministers of the DA in the Government of National Unity (GNU). Eleven new ministers were appointed from the DA, PAC, IFP, Patriotic Alliance (PA) and Freedom Front Plus and two from the ANC in the GNU. V.5488

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15. Jul. 2024 Business Tech

The booming R7 billion industry in South Africa

South Africa’s ride-hailing market has grown considerably over the past several years, becoming a massive R7 billion industry with no signs of slowing down. Vincent Lilane, Business Development Representative at inDrive, highlights that approximately 21% of South Africans now rely on e-hailing services, marking a substantial shift in urban transportation dynamics. Despite this growth, the sector faces several critical challenges that could impede further development if left unaddressed. V.5490

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12. Jul. 2024 Radio567

Fixing Home Affairs: Every SAn understands the scale of the problem - Schreiber

The DA`s Leon Schreiber is the Home Affairs Minister-designate. He discusses his priorities with John Maytham. Is a more competent Home Affairs department on the horizon? President Cyril Ramaphosa’s newly announced Cabinet has had to accommodate ministers and deputy ministers from six former opposition parties. The post of Home Affairs Minister has gone to Leon Schreiber from the Democratic Alliance, who takes over from the ANC`s Aaron Motsoaledi who returns in the guise of Health Minister. V.5478

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12. Jul. 2024 News 24

Busted! Children found inside trailer after Paarl police intercept bus with undocumented passengers

Police conducting an early morning patrol intercepted a bus carrying undocumented passengers • Police found undocumented women and children inside a trailer attached to the bus. • A passenger then intervened and offered one of the police officers R50 000 to release the passengers. • Home Affairs Minister, Leon Schreiber announced last week that foreign tourists, students and visitors who have applied for visa extensions will be allowed to stay in the country until the end of this year . V.5479

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12. Jul. 2024 News24

EXPLAINER | Short-term work visa vs SA`s new remote work visa: what`s the difference?

The remote work visa allows individuals employed by foreign companies to work remotely in South Africa, and is similar to the nomad visas now popular in many countries across the globe, explains Aadil Wadee. A significant change introduced by the newly gazetted regulations on 20 May 2024, was the implementation of the remote work visa in South Africa. V.5483

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12. Jul. 2024 Daily Maverick

After the Bell: Ireland’s not being a good sport about its visa push

Irish eyes might be smiling, but South Africans are rightly rankled by Ireland’s new visa requirements, imposed on Monday with a tiny bone thrown our way by way of a ‘grace period’ that is probably of use to only a minuscule cohort of travellers. V.5484

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11. Jul. 2024 The Star

Calls for home affairs minister to reverse visa extension continue to grow

Amid an increasing calls for new Minister of Home Affairs Leon Schreiber to reverse his decision to extend the deadline for visa applications, ActionSA has called for the minister to prioritise jobs for South Africans. Last week, a day after being sworn in, Schreiber extended the temporary concession for foreign nationals who are awaiting the outcome of visa, waiver and appeal applications. The extension safeguards applicants, including those who are contributing to South Africa through their scarce skills, from suffering adverse consequences or being erroneously declared undesirable while they await the outcome of applications submitted to the department. V.5473

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11. Jul. 2024 Pretoria News

Home Affairs told to unblock man’s ID after three years

A Man who was more than three years ago suddenly stripped of his South African citizenship by Home Affairs, and who had in the meantime lost his job as a result, turned to the court for a final interdict to force the department to unblock his ID document. The applicant, only identified as FS, told the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, of the hardships he has encountered after home affairs simply took away his citizenship in April 2021, based on unverified claims that he is actually a Zimbabwe national. He said his life has been a nightmare since, as he cannot travel, he is now unemployed and he cannot even receive a social grant. V.5475

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11. Jul. 2024 New Zimbabwe

Clarity on Zimbabwe exemption permits deadline in South Africa; new Home Affairs minister gets flake for ‘soft’ stance

THE National Employers’ Association of South Africa (NEASA) on Thursday provided clarity for all affected parties on the relevant deadlines and periods of validity of the the Zimbabwean exemption permits (ZEP) dispensation. There are more than a million Zimbabweans living in South Africa, according to South Africa’s census data. It said for the current holders of the original ZEPs, the deadline has been extended and was valid until November 29, 2024. V.5476

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11. Jul. 2024 EWN (EYEWITNESS NEWS )

Home Affairs reports over 300,000 cases of fraudulent visas and permits

The Home Affairs Department is now preparing to hand over at least 94 individuals for investigation by the Hawks, on top of 28 others already handed over to the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations. CAPE TOWN - The Home Affairs Department says it has identified more than 300,000 cases related to the fraudulent issuing of visas and permits. It is now preparing to hand over at least 94 individuals for investigation by the Hawks, on top of 28 others already handed over to the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations. V.5477

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Articles

18. Jul. 2024 Businesstech

Foreigners are loving life in South Africa but they still have one big worry

Expats’ happiness with their lives in South Africa has improved considerably over the past year, but they still face several pressing issues, particularly those related to safety. This is according to the latest Expat Insider 2024 survey by InterNations, where South Africa ranks 29th out of 53 countries in the overall rankings of “Best Destinations for Expats in 2024.” This is a 19-spot improvement from 2023, climbing out of the bottom 10 after spending four consecutive years there. “In early 2024, more than 12,500 expats from around the world shared with us their thoughts on what it’s like to live and work abroad [representing] 175 nationalities living in 174 countries or territories,” said InterNations. V.5496

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