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Immigration laws to change again

From unabridged to abridged – will the new Immigration regulations outlast the one-and-a-half year old amendments?

16449151-South-African-Passport-with-the-world-map-Stock-PhotoOn 30 June 2014 the Nation prepared itself for the introduction of the (then) new amendments to the Immigration Act that was to commence the following day. Opinions spread like a Cape Town veldfire during summer. Radio and news stations across the country debated the pro’s and con’s of the new Regulations requiring minors to travel with unabridged birth certificates.

Prior to 1 July 2014 only an abridged certificate was required. An abridged certificate contains only one of the parents’ details, as opposed to an unabridged certificate which specifies the details of both parents. The purpose of the new amendment was, among others, to prevent child trafficking. The downside of the new requirement was that it entailed a very lengthy procedure to obtain one of these certificates. Also, it was feared that it could have an adverse impact on South African tourism. Recent statistics have confirmed this. There was a noticeable negative impact on tourism as well as South Africa’s economic growth.

A couple of days ago the Department of Home Affairs Director General, Mkuseli Apleni, announced that it will no longer be necessary to present unabridged birth certificates as the updated South African passports for minors – which is to be implemented within the next 3 – 12 months – will, in any event, contain the full particulars of both parents making the unabridged certificates redundant. The change is not in operation yet. There is some speculation as to whether or not the new rule will only apply to inbound travellers or to those leaving the country as well. Unconfirmed reports have indicated that, in the latter case, the unabridged certificates will still be required.

What does this mean for the next couple of months?

The Department of Home Affairs has stated that international visitors who have already applied for South African visas will not be required to present an unabridged certificate provided that both parents are travelling with the minor. Visa exempt countries are, however, excluded in this regard.

Despite the above, many airline companies are refusing to allow travellers through without these certificates, their reason being that they are waiting upon Home Affairs to issue updated guidance in the briefing of the birth certificates.
In the circumstances, our advice to travellers is to continue travelling with both the unabridged birth certificate as well as their passports together with any other required documentation (consenting affidavits etc) until such time as the relevant authorities establish a general consensus on this issue.

Current Visas available to foreign nationals

On a different note, the Department of Home Affairs is currently offering the following temporary residence permits (ie. visas) to foreign nationals who are intending to visit South Africa. At Abrahams and Gross our team are geared to assist you in your application for the following visas:

General Work Visa

General work permits are valid for the duration of the contract of employment. A general work permit lapses if, within 6 months of issuance and if every year thereafter the holder fails to submit satisfactory proof to the Director-General that he/she is still employed, along with proof of the terms and conditions of the job, and the job description.

Retired Person’s Visa

Retired person’s permits may be issued to persons who wish to retire in South Africa, provided that such person complies with the financial requirements provided for in the Immigration Act, 2002 (Act No. 13 of 2002) and its Regulations. Applications must be made at a Visa & Permit Application Centre close to the applicant’s residence.

Business Visa

Foreigners contemplating investing in the South African economy either by establishing a business or by investing in an existing business in the country must apply for a business permit. As an applicant, you will be required to invest a prescribed financial capital contribution.

Relative’s Visa

As an immediate family member of a South African citizen or permanent resident you may be issued a relative’s permit once the financial means as contemplated in the Immigration Act, 2002 (Act No. 13 of 2002) have been complied with. Relative’s permits are valid for a minimum period of 24 months and may be extended. Applications can be made at a Visa & Permit Facilitation Centre close to applicant’s residence. For a spouse and/or a dependent child of a South African citizen, or permanent resident, the permit is issued free of charge, whilst there is a fee for other relatives wishing to join their family members in South Africa.

Critical Skills Work Visa

Critical skills visa applications can be made at any Visa Facilitation Centre in South Africa. Please note that an applicant must ensure he/she falls under the Critical Skills category before applying for a visa or permit.

Intra Company Transfer Work Visa

Occasionally, multi-national companies decide to transfer an existing employee from a foreign branch to a branch in South Africa. These employees must apply for an intra-company transfer work permit. Contrary to application for work permits in these special instances the prospective employer would not be required to show proof of steps taken to obtain the services of a South African citizen/permanent resident rather than the prospective foreign national.

The Minister of Home Affairs has approved the granting of a 10-year multiple entry visa that will be available to frequent business and academic travellers from Africa. Currently the longest multiple entry visitor’s visa available is for 3 years.

HOW CAN WE ASSIST?

Abrahams & Gross’s Immigration department specialises in obtaining different residence permits, either permanent or temporary, on a client’s behalf. However, it is important to note that the client is required to be present on the day of submission in order to enable the Visa and Permits Facilitation Centre (VFS Global) to collect biometric data (fingerprints, ID photo) from him/her. Our team is dedicated to thoroughly preparing a client’s application in advance to ensure a hassle-free and successful submission on the day of appointment at VFS.

For assistance or more information, please contact:

Wesley Scheepers  |  Immigration Department  |  Abrahams & Gross Attorneys
t. 021 422 1323    |   e. info@abgross.co.za

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