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Updated South African Immigration Regulation

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Updated South African Immigration Regulation

Everything you need to know about the Department of Home Affairs' latest immigration laws 

Last update: 10 June 2019

We've turned to expert consultancy Black Pen Immigration to help unpack the 272 page government gazette that stipulates immigration law modifications. The company’s well-versed in navigating the Department of Home Affairs’ (DHA) web of legislation and visa requirements, and thus if you have further questions about the revised rules or if you’d like to meet with a consultant face-to-face, contact them directly.

Otherwise, simply subscribe to our newsletter for the latest developments. 

NEW SOUTH AFRICAN IMMIGRATION LAWS

Applying for Visa/Permits

  • The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has officially outsourced the handling and processing of visa applications to a company called Visa Facilitation Services (VFS). 

How Will the VFS Process Applications?

  • The VFS has opened 11 offices which are referred to as Visa Application Centres (VACs), around South Africa.
  • You can find these centres at the following addresses in these cities and towns:      

CITY

ADDRESS

Pretoria

Cherry Lane Office Park, 1st Floor, 114 Fehrsen Street, Nieuw Muckleneuk, Brooklyn

Rustenburg

Von Wielligh 26, Bo Dorp

Kimberley

Unit 3, Building 2, Agri Office Park, N12

Durban

Suite 3, Silver Oaks, Ground Floor, 36 Silverton Road, Musgrave

Bloemfontein

Suite 4, The Park, 14 Reid Street, Westdene

George

Unit 5, Royal Eagle, 5 Progress Street

Johannesburg

1st Floor Rivonia Village, Cnr Rivonia Boulevard and Mutual Rd, Sandton

Cape Town

21st Floor, 2 Riebeek Street, Absa Building

Polokwane

Shop 13, Thornhill Shopping Centre, Cnr Veldspaat & Munnik avenues, Bendor

Nelspruit

Office 5F, Nedbank building, 30 Brown Street

Port Elizabeth

Office 7C, 1st Floor Moffet on Main, Cnr 17th Ave and Main Road, Walmer

  • At the VACs, applicants can submit their applications and biometric data for processing. 
  • Once the applications have been thoroughly checked, they will then be scanned and forwarded to the head office of Home Affairs in Pretoria. 
  • The VFS operates strictly as a processing operation and does not offer potential immigrants any advice on immigration rules etc.  Therefore, prospective immigrants will still have to seek advice from immigration consultants, and the consultants will be able to accompany applicants. 
  • Zimbabwe nationals on Special Dispensation for Zimbabweans Project, Asylum and Refugee cases will still be directly handled by the Department of Home Affairs.
  • The VFS does not have the authority to grant or refuse visas as that decision still lies with the DHA. 
  • The VFS charges an additional service fee of R1350 incl. VAT per application. (Do note that this amount excludes the standard DHA application fee.)
  • Submission timings are between 8am and 4pm (Monday to Friday)

Changing to Another Visa While in South Africa

  • New regulations also state that one cannot change from a Visitor’s Visa to another type of visa; these applications for change of conditions must be made at a mission abroad, i.e. an embassy or consulate, where the applicant is an ordinary resident or holds citizenship.
  • However, exceptional circumstances include if an applicant is in need of life saving medical treatment or is an accompanying spouse or child of a business or work visa holder who wish to apply for a study or work visa

Life Partner and Spousal Visas

  • Life partners looking to apply for temporary residency in South Africa based on a life partner visa will need to prove that they have been together for two years; those applying for permanent residency will need to prove that they have been together for five years.
  • Spouses looking to apply for temporary residency in South Africa based on a spousal visa will NOT need to prove that they have been in a previous relationship for a certain number of years. 
  • If a partner or spouse was in a previous marriage, it is necessary to provide official documents that prove the dissolution of such marriage either by divorce or the death of the other spouse.
  • The updated regulations also state that life partners will need to attend separate but simultaneous interviews to determine the authenticity of the existence of their relationship.

Eradication of Exceptional Skills and Quota Permit Categories

  • The DHA has officially eradicated the Exceptional Skills and Quota permit categories
  • It is unclear whether those who have submitted an application under one of these categories will still have their application processed. Consult your nearest DHA branch for specifics.
  • Current Exceptional Skills and Quota Permit holders will not be able to renew their permits going forward.

Renewing a Visa Whilst in South Africa

  • Those looking to renew their visa while in the country must do so 60 days before the current one expires.  This change was reportedly made due to the DHA’s inability to process an application in the previous time period (30 days).

General Work Visa

  • Applications for this visa will have to include a certificate from the Department of Labour confirming the following:
    • despite a thorough search, the prospective employer could not find a South African employee with the skills and experience equivalent to those of the applicant.
    • the applicant has proven skills and experience in line with the job offer.
    • the salary and benefits of the applicant are not inferior to those of citizens or permanent residents.
    • the contract signed by both the employer and applicant stipulates conditions that are in line the labour laws of South Africa.
  • You will also need a document to prove that your qualifications have been approved by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA). This document must be translated into one of the official languages of South Africa by a sworn translator
  • The work visa will be valid for a maximum of five years. 

Critical Skills Work Visa

  • This visa is based on a list of occupations that are considered critical (examples include Agricultural Engineers, Land Surveyor and Forestry Technicians) in South Africa.
  • To apply for a visa in this category you do not need a job offer, but within one year of being granted a visa, you do need to prove that you’re gainfully employed within your field.
  • This visa replaced the Exceptional Skills and Quota Visas.
  • An updated (April 2019) shortened list of critical skills is now available.

Visitor’s Visa

  • Visitor’s Visa holders who wish to change the terms or status of their visa must submit an application no less than 60 days prior to the current visa’s date of expiration.
  • Is it no longer possible to change from a Visitor’s Visa to another visa category within South Africa.

Business Visas

  • It will now be a requirement for businesses to get a recommendation letter from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
  • The DTI will conduct a thorough forensic assessment of the feasibility of the business entity as well as the contribution to the national interest of South Africa.
  • A minimum of R5 million must be invested into the book value of the business.
  • Any accountant registered with the South African Institute of Professional Accountants or the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants can verify the availability of funds for a business visa. Previously, this would have to have been done by a chartered accountant (not just any professional accountant).
  • 60% of the business owner’s workforce must be South African or must be permanent residents employed permanently in various positions.
  • Business visas will be granted for no longer than three years at a time
  • No business visa will be issued to a foreigner who intends to establish or invest in a business that is listed as an undesirable business undertaking.

Intra-Company Visas

  • The employee in question must be employed with the foreign office/ business for a minimum of six months before being eligible for transfer to South Africa.
  • This visa will now be available for four years but is non-renewable.

Study Visa/ Exchange Visa

  • Holders of a Study Visa may not conduct part-time work exceeding 20 hours of labour a week.
  • Both Study and Exchange Visas will only be issued for the duration of the study period or exchange programme respectively.
  • An exchange visa (for persons under 25 years) will not be granted to conduct work pertaining to an undesirable work as published by the Minister in the gazette, after consultation with the Minister of Trade and Industry.

Retirement Visa

  • There are no age limitations on the retirement visa.
  • Applicants have to prove R37,000 monthly income per person per month from pensions, retirement annuities or property rentals. Alternatively, applicants can also prove they have a capital sum in the bank that’s equivalent to R444,000 per annum (R1,776,00 for the full four years).

Asylum Transit Visa

  • An Asylum Transit Visa issued at a port of entry will be valid for a period of 5 days to enable the holder to report at a nearest Refugee Reception Office.

Fines

  •  Fines will no longer be charged for overstaying. Persons who overstay for a prescribed number of times will be declared as undesirable. 

CONTACT BLACK PEN IMMIGRATION: To get in touch with a consultant about your work permit or permanent residence query.

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