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28 September 2018

Department of Home Affairs Media Statement on Visa-Related Reforms

On 25 September 2018, the Minister of Home Affairs Mr Malusi Gigaba, at a Media Briefing on Visa-related Reforms in Pretoria, announced several changes to be implemented in the South African Immigration Regulations.

Who is affected:

This will affect all individuals travelling to South Africa as well as businesses employing foreign nationals in South Africa.

Background:

On 19 September 2018, the South African Government announced that a number of changes will be made to make it easier for tourists, business people and academia to travel to South Africa. This announcement was made following the receipt of a joint report prepared by the Ministers of Home Affairs and Tourism.

Impact:

These changes will have far reaching implications to various categories of travellers to South Africa. Below is a summary of the proposed amendments:

Travelling with minors

Currently Home Affairs requires that minors travelling in or out of South Africa do so with the consent of both parents as required by the Children’s Act. Travellers are required to present an Unabridged Birth Certificate as proof of kinship as well as an affidavit confirming consent if both parents are not travelling together.

To alleviate the burden on individuals travelling with minors, the Department of Home Affairs will issue an international travel advisory before the end of October 2018, confirming that foreign nationals travelling with minors should be recommended to carry documentation proving parental consent as opposed to being required to do so as per the current regulations.

Immigration officials will still have the discretion to insist on documentation by exception.

This will only be applicable to foreign nationals travelling with minors, South African individuals travelling with minors will still be required to prove parental consent when travelling.

As this is merely a relaxation of the current regulations it is our advice that all travellers still carry an Unabridged Birth Certificate when travelling with their children.

Visa waivers

Currently Visa waivers are being negotiated and finalised for ordinary passport holders from the following countries:

Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Sao Tome & Principe, Tunisia, Saharawi-Arab Democratic Republic, Ghana, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, State of Palestine, Iran, Lebanon, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait; Belarus, Georgia and Cuba.

These Visa waivers have not been implemented yet and it is advisable to always check before travelling if a Visa waiver is applicable. These Visa waivers will only be applicable to individuals travelling for holiday purposes or short-term business meetings. Any work-related activities may still only be conducted with the relevant work visa.

Simplification of visa requirements

For certain countries not identified for a Visa waiver, steps are being taken to simplify some visa requirements.

For travellers with ordinary passports from India and China, Home Affairs are in the process to make provision for taking bio-metrics on arrival in South Africa; allowing visa applications via courier and issuing 5-year multiple entry visas. The intention is to roll this out in October 2018.

This may also be extended for certain categories of visitors from other countries, including Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda.

Critical Skills List review

A deadline has been set to review the current Critical Skills list with an anticipated implementation date by April 2019. It is not yet clear as to which categories will fall away or the possible impact on renewals or Permanent Residence applications. We will be monitoring this closely.

e-Visa

New Zealand has been identified as the location to pilot the new e-Visa process. It will initially be rolled out to facilitate the issuing of visas to tourists and business people.

e-Gates

Home Affairs will begin piloting e-Gates at OR Tambo, Cape Town and King Shaka International Airports by 2019.

This will allow for the electronic processing of certain travellers diminishing the requirement to interact with an immigration officer.

How Santa Fe can assist:

Santa Fe can support businesses who wish to employ foreign nationals in South Africa by assessing their eligibility to qualify for the required work visas to ensure compliance with the South African Immigration Laws. We can also review current employees’ visas and if it is found that the correct work visa is not in place we can assist with corrective measures to ensure compliance.

We can also keep your business updated on further developments in South African immigration matters and will advise on any changes requiring your attention.

Should you have any questions, please contact:

Terence Rover
Immigration Manager – Africa
Santa Fe Relocation
Johannesburg, South Africa
D: +27 (0) 10 442 8933
M: +27 (0) 72 279 9606
E: Terence.Rover@santaferelo.com

Paolo Longo
Regional Immigration Manager – Africa
Santa Fe Relocation
Johannesburg, South Africa
D: +27 (0) 10 595 2337
M: +27 (0) 83 677 7949
E: Paolo.Longo@santaferelo.com

Soumeya Messadi
Head of Immigration – Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa
Santa Fe Relocation
Singapore
D: +65 6398 3520
M: +65 9169 6061
E: Soumeya.messadi@santaferelo.com

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