As from the 26th May 2014 the Department of Home Affairs has introduced the implementation of the new Immigration Act and Regulations in South Africa.
This was quite surprising for the public, of which most insiders were gearing up for the 2nd June 2014, and will probably result in chaotic situations within the next few weeks.
The new immigration policies even surprised the own staff. As the new Regulations and laws have not been made available timely to the branches of Home Affairs, staff members were unable to cope with dealing with these circumstances. At least they weren’t informed about the new regulations at all.
Why such a sudden rush?
In addition the new Regulations do not contain essential practical information such as minimum amounts for the business permit, retired person permit and the list of what are critical skills is also not included. These information will be published in the Government Gazette at a later stage, what leads to the question:
So, why the sudden rush?
Important Changes In The Immigration Regulations:
Place of Submission and Change of Conditions and Renewals whilst in South Africa:
- Applicants are not allowed anymore to change from a visitor permit to any other form of permit from within South Africa.
- For all first applications for work visa and others, the place of submission must be the missions abroad and it must be in person.
- The only exemptions would be that the accompanying spouse or child of a work and business visa holder may be allowed to change to a work or study visa.
- Enlargement of processing time for visa extensions from 30 days to 60 days before the expiry date of the current visa
- Spouses or life partners have to be together for at least 2 years prior to an application for permanent or temporary residency
- Authenticity of the existence of relationship will be checked during an interview on the same date and time. Life partners will also be interviewed separately.
- Businesses will need to get a recommendation letter from the Department of Trade (DTI) and Industry
- Business visas will be issued for NOT longer than 3 years at a time
- New minimum investment amount has not been published. The old 2.5 million Rand limit will probably be applicable.
- Accountants registered with the South African Institute of Professional Accountants can now verify the availability of funds for Business visa.
Critical Skills Visa:
- Exceptional Skills visa and Quota work visa have been combined to Critical Skills visa
- List for Critical Skills visa isn’t published yet
Intra Company Transfer Visas:
- Employees will need to be employed with the foreign office for no shorter than 6 months before being eligible for transfer to South Africa. The visa will now be available for a duration of 4 years.
Fines / Penalties:
- Massive increase of administrative fines for over-stayers or any other persons who are in contravention with the Immigration Act.
Everybody who inspected the new regulations in detail will have found out many inconsistencies which will be met with strong opposition from stakeholders and members of the public.
Further Big Changes In The Immigration Regulations:
- Personal submissions are compulsory due to biometrics needed.
- The visa application fees are not mentioned in the new Immigration Act
- The inclusion of the Department of Labour will result in delays as previously seen
- The inclusion of the Department of Trade and Industry in the visa process which will cause delays and scare off potential investor and business owners as the process will be extremely cumbersome
As the new Immigration Act is related to essential changes in various application processes, we recommend to contact the IBN offices for service on detailed questions.