29. Nov. 2023 Global Migration

Latest updates in global immigration

This week, the Global Immigration team at Smith Stone Walters would like to highlight the following recent updates from Australia, Denmark, Hong Kong, Israel, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States.
Australia: Start date set for permanent residence changes
The Department of Home Affairs has set a start date of 25 November 2023 (subject to the approval of regulation changes) for its previously announced changes to the employer-sponsored permanent residence programme.
From that date, all Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) (subclass 482) visa holders will be able to access permanent residence via the Temporary Residence Transition (TRT) stream of the Employer Nominated Scheme (ENS) (subclass 186) visa.
• Changes to the TSS visa will apply to new applications lodged on or after 25 November 2023.
• Changes to the Temporary Residence Transition (TRT) stream nomination requirements will apply to new ENS/RSMS nomination applications and applications that are yet to be finally determined as of 25 November 2023.
• 482 visa holders will be eligible regardless of whether they are sponsored in an occupation on the Short-term (STSOL), Long-term (MLTSSL) or Regional Occupation List (ROL).
• The eligibility period of employment on a TSS 482 visa has been also reduced from 3 years to 2 years of employment with the most recently approved sponsor.
• Changes will also be made to age exemptions for regional medical practitioner and high-income earning applicants aged 45 years and over to allow for a two-year pathway instead of the current three-year requirement.
• The limits on the number of short-term stream TSS applications visa holders can make in Australia will be removed. Applicants who want to submit a third or more short-term stream TSS visa can do so without having to depart Australia.
• Nominated occupations will no longer be assessed against skilled migration occupation lists.
• The nominated occupation will need to be listed in the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) and the nominated worker will need to continue to work in the occupation nominated for their TSS visa(s).
• The period in which TSS visa holders are required to have worked in a position with their sponsoring employer (or in the occupation for medical practitioners and certain executives) will be reduced to 2 out of the 3 years before nomination.
• The RSMS visa will continue to be restricted to transitional 457 workers and transitional 482 workers.
Denmark: Extension of Residence for Refugees from Ukraine
The government has decided that residence permits issued for people displaced from Ukraine can be extended until 17 March 2025.
The Immigration Service will automatically assess whether a residence permit under the Special Act can be extended. If the holder still complies with the requirements laid down in their current residence permit, the residence permit will be automatically extended.
When the Immigration Service has processed a case, and the residence permit has been extended, the holder will receive a new residence card by mail and does not have to have their biometric features recorded for the new residence card.
The Immigration Service will process the case before a current residence permit under the Special Act expires and expects to complete the processing of all cases before 17 March 2024.
Hong Kong: Talent Engage office opens
The Hong Kong Talent Engage (HKTE) office opened in Hong Kong on 30 October 2023. Following the launch of the Hong Kong Talent Engage (HKTE) online platform last year, the physical office will provide support for incoming talents and follow up with their development and needs after arrival.
The office will also partner with different organizations as well as the Dedicated Teams for Attracting Businesses & Talents under the Government’s Mainland and overseas offices, to get the needed information and services for the incoming talent.
In 2024, the government will organize a “Global Talent Summit cum Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area High-quality Talent Development Conference” to promote regional exchange and co-operation in talent attraction.
Israel: Measures during the security crisis
On 29 October 2023, the Population and Immigration Authority (PIBA) announced that all non-work visas due to expire within the next three months are extended until 8 February 2024. After this period, if there is no further notice, visa extension must be carried out as per the usual procedures.
The work visa extension process at the Interior Ministry for expiring B-1 expert work visas is currently not operating as usual. Instead, the Ministry is acknowledging the submission of extension applications and automatically extending the visas for one month at a time.
On 30 October 2023, PIBA announced a three-month extension of the work permits of all foreign nationals in the domestic nursing and agriculture sectors who are in Israel and whose work permit has expired or will expire between the dates 7 October 2023 and 7 January 2024.
On 1 November 2023, the government announced a further series of measures to recruit foreign national workers in the agriculture sector, which is currently experiencing a manpower crisis. These include allowing the immediate entry of 5000 foreign nationals to work in the sector, including foreign nationals who previously stayed in Israel in recognized agricultural training programs, who will be recruited by licensed private agricultural bureaus, not within the framework of bilateral agreements. Ministers also announced the implementation of existing bilateral agreements and the extension of a fast-track process to more countries of origin.
Approximately 7800 foreign agricultural workers have left Israel, out of approximately 30,000 foreign agricultural workers who worked in Israel before the fighting began. In addition, during this period it was decided not to allow the entry into Israel approximately 20,000 Palestinian workers in the agricultural sector.
Netherlands: Further restriction of the 30% ruling
On 27 October 2023, the Dutch House of Representatives passed two amendments to the 2024 Tax Plan which, if approved by the Senate, will further scale back the so-called “30% ruling”.
Currently, eligible highly skilled foreign workers are not required to pay tax on up to 30% of their income for five years (reduced from eight years in 2019). This is justified as a reimbursement for costs incurred in moving to the Netherlands form abroad. From 1 January 2024, this reimbursement can only be up to a maximum of EUR 233,000.
It is also permitted for employers to reimburse the actual moving costs of the employee, instead of using the 30% facility.
The first amendment requires that, effective 1 January 2024, the 30% ruling for new applications can only be applied to a maximum of 30% of the taxable salary for the first 20 months. In the following 20 months, the rule can be applied up to a maximum of 20% of the taxable wage. The following 20 months only up to a maximum of 10% of taxable wages. After 60 months, the maximum duration of the 30% ruling has expired.
Transitionally, foreign employees already using the 30% ruling before 1 January 2024 will not be subject to the reduction.
The second amendment regulates the abolition of partial foreigner taxpayer status by 2025. Currently, foreign workers who are resident in the Netherlands and use the 30%-ruling can select partial foreign taxpayer status in their income tax return so that, for the purposes of Box 2 and Box 3, they are considered foreign taxpayers despite being resident in the Netherlands.
Transitionally, foreign national residents who already use this facility before 1 January 2024 can continue to use the partial foreign tax liability until 2026 at the latest.
Sweden: New maintenance requirement takes effect
As previously announced, effective 1 November 2023, the maintenance requirement for foreign national workers has increased from SEK 13,000 to SEK 27,360, which is 80% of the current median salary in Sweden. The monthly salary must also be in line with collective agreements or practices in the relevant profession or industry.
• If someone has been granted a work permit before 1 November 2023, the previous maintenance requirement still applies for the remainder of the permit’s validity. If the holder applies for an extension, however they will need to meet the new maintenance requirement.
• The new requirement does not apply to permits granted on the basis of protection, close family ties, or studies, nor to those covered by the Temporary Protection Directive or the Upper Secondary School Act. EU/EEA citizens, permanent residents and long-term residents who exercise their freedom of movement are also unaffected.
• Professional coaches and athletes, au pairs, trainees within the framework of international exchange or trainees with traineeships related to higher education, and researchers will not be subject to the new requirement.
• People who possess or are applying for an EU Blue Card or ICT permit, as well as seasonal workers, are also unaffected.
• The occupational areas that will be most affected by the higher maintenance requirement are service, care, sales, agriculture, gardening, forestry, berry picking, fishing, and occupations that demand a shorter education or introduction. As a rule, the salary earned by employees in these groups falls below the new maintenance requirement.
Switzerland: Special status for Ukrainian refugees to continue
On 1 November 2023, the Federal Council decided not to lift the protection status S for Ukrainian refugees before 4 March 2025, unless the situation changes fundamentally before then. For the first time, it has also defined a target for labour market integration: By the end of 2024, 40 per cent of persons capable of employment with protection status S should be in work. The currently level is about 20%.
Protection status S has been granted to Ukrainian refugees since 12 March 2022. The specific support measures for people with protection status S (Programme S), which were first adopted on 13 April 2022 and extended on 9 November 2022, will also be extended until 4 March 2025. The Swiss federal government contributes CHF 3000 per person per year to these measures, in particular for language courses, which is paid to the cantons in stages.
United States: 180-day extension of Employment Authorization for certain renewal applicants
US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that, effective 27 October 2023, eligible renewal applicants who have filed Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, qualify for an automatic 180-day extension of their expiring employment authorization and/or employment authorization documents (EADs) while their renewal application is pending. This includes those who have applied for or have received Temporary Protected Status or asylum.
In May 2022, USCIS announced a temporary final rule (TFR) that increased the automatic extension period for EADs available to certain EAD renewal applicants from up to 180 days to up to 540 days. The latest change is not retroactive; all previous up to 540-day automatic extensions will remain in place.
USCIS is in the process of determining whether there is a need for a new regulatory action similar to the May 2022 TFR.
As announced in the May 2022 TFR, automatic extensions of employment authorization and EAD validity will be the original up to 180-day period for those eligible applicants who timely file a Form I-765 renewal applications on or after 27 October 2023.
For individuals who received an increased automatic extension period under the TFR, the increased automatic extension will end when they receive a final decision on their renewal application or when the up to 540-day period expires (counted from the expiration date of the employment authorization and/or their EAD), whichever comes earlier.
Meanwhile, USCIS recently published a Policy Manual update increasing the maximum EAD validity period to five years for initial and renewal applications approved on or after 27 September 2023, for the following categories:
• Certain noncitizens who are employment authorized incident to status or circumstance, including those admitted as refugees, paroled as refugees, granted asylum, and recipients of withholding of removal; and
• Certain noncitizens who must apply for employment authorization, including applicants for asylum and withholding of removal, adjustment of status, and suspension of deportation or cancellation of removal.
New Form I-9:
Effective 1 November 2023, all employers must use a new Form I-9. The revised version of the form was published on 1 August 2023 by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
The revised Form I-9:
• Reduces Sections 1 and 2 to a single-sided sheet;
• Is designed to be a fillable form on tablets and mobile devices;
• Moves the Section 1 Preparer/Translator Certification area to a separate, standalone supplement that employers can provide to employees when necessary;
• Moves Section 3, Reverification and Rehire, to a standalone supplement that employers can print if or when rehire occurs or reverification is required;
• Revises the Lists of Acceptable Documents page to include some acceptable receipts as well as guidance and links to information on automatic extensions of employment authorization documentation;
• Reduces Form instructions from 15 pages to 8 pages; and
• Includes a checkbox allowing employers to indicate they examined Form I-9 documentation remotely under a DHS-authorized alternative procedure rather than via physical examination (see below).

23. Feb. 2024 SABC news

SCA dismisses Motsoaledi’s bid to appeal ZEP ruling

Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has suffered a blow in his bid to appeal the judgment of the High Court Pretoria. The court had invalidated his December 2021 decision to terminate the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) and an interim interdict, which stopped government from detaining or deporting any holder of the permit. Motsoaledi turned to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein in November last year to appeal the judgments, which he argued had set a dangerous precedent. V.5203

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23. Feb. 2024 Businesstec

Disky, The Top-Rated WhatsApp Licence Renewal Service in South Africa

Disky stands out as the premier choice for South Africans seeking a hassle-free vehicle licence disc renewal, and its outstanding online reviews speak volumes. Click here to renew your vehicle licence disc with Disky. Customers on the renowned review platform HelloPeter have awarded Disky an impressive rating of 4.03/5 from over 250 reviews. This rating is particularly noteworthy, considering HelloPeter users` reputation for being discerning and critical of businesses on the platform. Disky has garnered love from HelloPeter users due to its simplicity and efficiency. The renewal application is completed over WhatsApp and typically takes less than seven minutes. What`s more, this service is available across all nine provinces in South Africa, and users are not required to create an account. V.5204

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23. Feb. 2024 The Citizen

Motsoaledi Urges Action Against Employers of Illegal Foreigners

Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi advocates for stricter measures against business owners knowingly employing undocumented foreigners. Motsoaledi, in collaboration with Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane, addressed stakeholders in Gqeberha during a service delivery monitoring session. Following a request from the provincial government, Home Affairs deployed mobile trucks to assist citizens in obtaining documents. Motsoaledi calls for sanctions against employers of undocumented foreigners, proposing by-laws to prevent them from operating businesses. He emphasizes the importance of parents registering their children to prevent cases like that of Thabo Bester. V.5206

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23. Feb. 2024 News24

Motsoaledi`s bid to appeal Zimbabwean permits ruling dismissed in court accreditation

The Zimbabwean Exemption Permit programme will not end any time soon, following a Supreme Court of Appeal dismissal of the Minister of Home Affairs` request for leave to appeal. The Zimbabwean Exemption Permit programme will not end any time soon, following a Supreme Court of Appeal dismissal of the Minister of Home Affairs` request for leave to appeal. The Supreme Court of Appeal has dismissed a bid by the Minister of Home Affairs to appeal a ruling that the termination of the ZEP programme was unlawful, unconstitutional and invalid. The court ruled there were no reasonable prospects of success. Last year, the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria ordered Minister Aaron Motsoaledi to reconsider the termination of the programme following a fair, consultative process that complied with the relevant laws. V.5207

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22. Feb. 2024 The Citizen

Motsoaledi Calls for Action Against Those Who Knowingly Employ Illegal Foreigners

Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has advocated for stricter measures against business owners knowingly employing undocumented foreigners. During a stakeholder engagement and service delivery monitoring session in Gqeberha, Motsoaledi, along with Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane, called for sanctions such as imprisonment or fines for guilty employers. The department had dispatched mobile Home Affairs trucks to assist citizens in obtaining their documents, responding to requests from the provincial government. Motsoaledi suggested implementing by-laws to prevent businesses operated by those who employ undocumented foreigners. He also urged parents to register their children to avoid situations like that of Thabo Bester. V.5202

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20. Feb. 2024 The Star

Asylum seekers, Newcomers be aware

People going to any Refugee Reception Centre in Cape Town , Gqeberha ( Port Elizabeth ) Marabastad Pretoria & Mesina know this if you never reported to border post to get an asylum transit visa when you go for the first interview for asylum you will be arrested if you don’t have this and you will be brought before a magistrate to explain why you never got it . If you cannot convince magistrate you will be deported Gauteng High Court rules in favour of Motsoaledi on detention of illegal immigrants V.5200

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14. Feb. 2024 iol

Gauteng High Court Rules in Favor of Motsoaledi on Detention of Illegal Immigrants

The Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg has ruled in favor of Home Affairs Minister Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi in response to an application by a group of illegal immigrants. The immigrants claimed that their detention at the Modderbee Correctional Services Centre in Benoni was unlawful and violated immigration and refugee acts. V.5199

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12. Feb. 2024 City Press

Weak rand a tourist magnet, as their dollars and pounds go much further than back home

The rand may have lost value against foreign currencies, but this makes South Africa an attractive tourist destination It`s probably not the prospect of cheap cappuccino in South Africa that attracts foreign tourists here, but it`s obviously welcome if your foreign currency gets you further. Mary Curtis, a strategist, and Andrea Masia, a senior economist, both associated with RMB Morgan Stanley. said: Consumers can easily drink three cappuccinos in South Africa for the price of one in America. You can also spend four nights in a Cape Town hotel for the same price as one night in London `In the bigger picture, the low relative prices of goods and services in South Africa are just another example of the value in South African assets.` V.5197

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12. Feb. 2024 The Conversation

SA must clean up the mess Motsoaledi has made at home affairs

This particular mess was triggered by Aaron Motsoaledi’s failure to amend an unconstitutional law that allowed for the detention of irregular migrants for 120 days. Legal grievances against the South African department of home affairs, including contempt of court cases, are depressingly common. Too frequently, the minister has to apologise to a court or ask for more time on behalf of the department. Most of the court cases involve the operations of the department regarding visas, and permits for foreign visitors, immigrants and prospective refugees. V.5198

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10. Feb. 2024 Businesstech

New laws for remote worker and critical skill visas in South Africa

The Department of Home Affairs has published the draft second amendment of the Immigration Regulations, which deals with two key categories of visas ` the remote working and critical skills visa ` and ancillary matters for public comment. The new regulations come after extensive lobbying by the Western Cape Government since 2021 for the introduction of a digital nomad visa and reforms to the visa regime to enable South Africa to attract skilled individuals to South Africa, to help develop and grow the economy. “To boost tourism, facilitate foreign investment, and allow digital nomads to work in South Africa, while spending their earnings here, we need to make it as easy as possible for them to access South Africa,” said WC MEC Mireille Wenger. V.5193

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10. Feb. 2024 IOL

Home Affairs is in need of a major clean-up

Legal grievances against the South African Department of Home Affairs, including contempt of court cases, are depressingly common. Too frequently the minister has to apologise to a court, or to ask for more time on behalf of the department. Most of the court cases involve the operations of the department regarding visas and permits for foreign visitors, immigrants and prospective refugees. Just a few months ago, Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said in legal papers: “I would like to take this opportunity to extend my sincere apology to the Chief Justice, all judges of the high court and Constitutional Court, the President of South Africa, Minister of Finance, Lawyers for Human Rights and its legal representatives and the people of South Africa for the mess created by officials of the Department of Home Affairs V.5194

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10. Feb. 2024 Businesstech

Canada extends ban on foreigners buying property what it means for South African emigrants

Canada has extended its ban on foreigners buying residential property, but South Africans living in the North American country should not worry. In 2022, the Canadian government passed the Prohibition on the Purchase of Residential Property by the Non-Canadians Act to stop foreign investors from buying residential property in Canada. This was intended to ensure that Canadian citizens were not priced out of the housing market. Chrystia Freeland, the Canadian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, said that the government now intends to extend the ban by an additional two years. The ban on foreign ownership of Canadian housing will thus be extended from January 1, 2025 to January 1, 2027. V.5195

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10. Feb. 2024 The South African

How to expedite a South African smart ID card application in 2024

Forget the ‘green mamba’ and say ‘howzit’ to expediting your South African smart ID card application online. A South African smart ID card application in 2024 has never been easier since the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) embraced digital technologies. If you need to expedite a smart ID card application, here’s what you need to do before wandering into a DHA branch and wasting everyone’s time. There are plenty of reasons you’ll want to speed up a smart ID card application. You may just be moeg of the ‘green mamba’ or perhaps your ID has been stolen or cloned and you need a new one. Whatever the case may be, you can speed up the smart ID card application process by going online first. Here’s what to do and how much it costs V.5196

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08. Feb. 2024 The Guardian

UK care firm charged workers from Africa thousands more than cost of visa

Zimbabweans say they paid large sums to Gloriavd Health Care but got far less work than expected and were squalidly housed A care company serving NHS patients has been charging migrant workers from Africa thousands of pounds to work in the UK when the cost of a visa is only a few hundred pounds, the Guardian has learned. Care workers from Zimbabwe were told to pay the sums to Gloriavd Health Care Ltd in return for arranging social care jobs in and around Leeds and Bath. They also claimed they were given far less paid work than they had been led to expect, were housed in overcrowded rooms and faced a threat that their conduct could be reported to the Home Office, leading them to fear deportation if they complained. One woman alleged she sold her home in rural South Africa to pay £6,500 in fees to the company operated by Gloria Van Dunem only to find she and her colleagues had so little work they had to rely on food banks. V.5192

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04. Feb. 2024 Daily Investor

Bank of America expects South Africa’s economic growth to triple in 2024

Bank of America expects South Africa’s economic growth to triple to 1.5% in 2024 from a paltry 0.5% in 2023. Sub-Saharan Africa economist at Bank of America, Tatonga Rusike, told CNBC Africa that this growth rate is nothing special and not good enough for the country. Rusike said 2024 will be a very tumultuous year for South Africa, with national elections, interest cuts expected in the second half, and deteriorating public finances. V.5190

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04. Feb. 2024

Foreigners are flooding to South Africa ` but we’re still playing catch-up

Tourist arrivals in South Africa have increased in recent years, but they are still far off pre-pandemic levels. According to Stats SA, in December 2023, 3.5 million travellers were recorded at South African ports of entry/exit, beating the 2.9 million seen in December 2022. The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) said that there were an estimated 1.3 billion international tourist arrivals in 2023, which is 88% of pre-pandemic levels. With worldwide tourism rebounding, South Africa is experiencing a similar trend. In 2021, the number of international tourist arrivals was 77.9% lower than the pre-pandemic levels of 2019, dropping from 10.23 million tourists in 2019 to 2.26 million in 2021. In 2022, this figure improved to approximately 5.70 million ` 44.3% lower than pre-pandemic levels. In 2023, tourist numbers stood at 8.48 million tourists in 2023 ` 17.1% below the pre-pandemic levels. V.5191

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02. Feb. 2024 The Street

A country just went visa-free for visitors with any passport

The president said that `it shall no longer be necessary for any person from any corner of the globe to carry the burden of applying for a visa.` As anyone who has traveled internationally will know, the passport one has will make it significantly easier or more difficult to visit certain countries. In 2023, Japan was taken over by Singapore for the status of the most powerful passport in the world. Citizens of the city-state can visit 192 of the world`s 227 countries and travel destinations without a visa while Germany, Italy and Spain tied for second place. The U.S., which was in first place in 2014, is curre. V.5156

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02. Feb. 2024 Le Monde

South Korea, the world`s lowest fertility rate sinks lower and lower

Researcher Sébastien Lechevalier reports on how the causes of declining fertility among Korean women vary from generation to generation. Falling birth rates affect most of the developed countries of East Asia and Europe, resulting in accelerated aging of the population. However, the scale of the phenomenon is greatest in South Korea. In 2021, the country`s total fertility rate (total amount of children per woman of childbearing age) was 0.81, compared with 1.16 in China, 1.19 in Spain, 1.25 in Italy, 1.3 in Japan, 1.58 in Germany and 1.8 in France. Most importantly, it`s a long-term situation: The fertility rate has been below 1.3 for two decades V.5189

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28. Jan. 2024 Businesstech

Big win for thousands of South Africans who lost their citizenship ` including those who didn’t even know

A law that strips South Africans of their citizenship is expected to be removed by the South African government. As per section 6(1) of the Citizenship Act, South Africans automatically lose their citizenship if they voluntarily obtain citizenship with another country. This is a continuation of an apartheid-era law. This law exists despite the Constitution stating that no South African may be stripped of their South African citizenship. Removing the right to citizenship also violates other rights enshrined in the Constitution, including the right to vote, the right to reside in South Africa, the right to stand for public office and the right to choose any occupation. Those who would like to retain their South African citizenship under the standing laws would need to apply to the Minster of Home Affairs to do so. V.5184

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28. Jan. 2024 Businesstech

Home Affairs is showing tourists in South Africa the door

Due to the backlog and long turnaround time for visas processed by the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), some tourists have been advised to leave the country by the end of February. The DHA issued a directive on 21 December 2023 that will require tourists who wish to extend their stay in South Africa to leave the country by 29 February 2024. According the Democratic Alliance, this will do incredible damage to the country’s tourism industry, as any visitors who wished to extend their stay over a busy holiday season would now be denied ` all because of the department’s backlog. “Tourists, when entering South Africa, can be issued with a 90-day visa and subsequently apply for a 90-day extension if they wish to stay longer. “South Africa stands to lose millions in lost revenue by not allowing them to extend their visas during the busiest season,” said DA MP Angel Khanyile. V.5185

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23. Feb. 2024 SABC news

SCA dismisses Motsoaledi’s bid to appeal ZEP ruling

Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has suffered a blow in his bid to appeal the judgment of the High Court Pretoria. The court had invalidated his December 2021 decision to terminate the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) and an interim interdict, which stopped government from detaining or deporting any holder of the permit. Motsoaledi turned to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein in November last year to appeal the judgments, which he argued had set a dangerous precedent. V.5203

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