New Immigration regulations for South Africa published

New Immigration regulations for South Africa
New Immigration regulations for South Africa

Many of our readers are foreigners on permits or visa’s of some description and many others follow us as they are thinking of moving to South Africa.

The new amendments to the immigration act were published this week and we have asked Intergate Immigration, one of South Africa’s premier immigration companies to provide us with some more details for our readers.

Should you have any queries you can contact them on 021 424 2460 or email them on info@intergate-immigration.com
Overstaying the length of your visa or permit

This new regulation may effect all current temporary permit holders and visa holders and one which “swallows”, those who spent the summer months in South Africa, should pay particular attention to.

New regulations now penalise heavily those who become illegal in South Africa resulting in them becoming an undesirable person and not being able to enter South Africa:

  • If you are illegal (overstay your permit or visa) by between 1 day and 30 days you will be classified as undesirable for 2 years
  • If you are illegal (overstay your permit or visa) by between 30 day and 90 days you will be classified as undesirable for 3 years
  • If you are illegal (overstay your permit or visa) for 90 days plus you will be classified as undesirable for 3 years

Swallows in particular should look at exploring a longer term residency status such as a retired permit, financial independent permit or where appropriate relatives permit.

Those with less than 12 months to the end of their permit validity should start now to look at renewal options.

Making an application for a first time permit (now to be called visa)

As of the proposed date of 1st April you will no longer be able to make a first time application for a visa within South Africa. This means anyone planning on applying for a visa would have to return to their own country to do so.

This can effect all individuals currently in South Africa who plan on making a first time application. If this is the case submissions must be made as soon as possible and no later than the end of March.

For those in this situation action should be taken immediately, for those abroad who were planning on submitting in South Africa they should submit in their home country where possible.

Changes in the work permit categories

Two permit categories – quota and exceptional skills will cease to exist and a new one, critical skills visa’s will be introduced.

The withdrawal of quota and exceptional skills work permits effects two sets of individuals:

  1. Those seeking to apply now – these applications must be made by April 1st or you will no longer be able to apply. Due to the time these applications take to compile along with all, the supporting evidence, it may be that you are already too late.
  2. Those who currently hold a quota or exceptional skills work permit – these will not be able to be renewed and you seek advice asap to explore your options.

In terms of the critical skills list this not yet published so no further information is available.

Life partner

Effect on German life partners of SA residents and citizens

This is of particular interest to German applicants as the embassy / consulate of South Africa in Germany has always held a unique view that is in contradiction to nearly all other embassies and consulates.

They have never recognised the status of a life parter. Before the ‘work around’ was for the applicant to submit in South Africa. As per the above this will no longer be acceptable after the 1st April.

This presents huge issues for all German life partners of SA citizens and permanent residency holders as there is seemingly no way to apply for a life partner permit. Lobbying, we can only hope brings about a change of attitude but in reality the time frame is too short.

New time frame for qualification for life partner permit

Whereas previously there was no criteria for how long the life partner relationship had been in existence, prove is now required that a 5 year time period (where cohabitation must be proven) that the relationship has existed for at least 5 years prior to the application being made.

This will have a massive impact on those who choose not to be married and are those who are not able to prove cohabitation for a 5 year period of time. Other permit options will need to be explored by these individuals.

Those holding a temporary life partner permit that will not have been in a relationship for 5 years on its expiry

We wait to see and hope that common sense prevails but who knows? Currently at face value it appears that those existing life partner permit holders whose permits expire before they can furnish the required proof of a 5 year relationship will not be able to renew.

As said we hope common sense prevails but advice should be sought as soon as possible.

Business permit applications

This area is still grey due to missing information from the DTI but changes include:

  • At least 60% of all employees to be South African citizens or permanent residency holders
  • The capital investment is to be in South Africa, before it was in the business
  • The employee undertaking is for 12 months not 24 months
  • That the business must not be classified as undesirable and be in an ‘approved category’.

The effect will mainly be on those who are currently in the process of compiling their applications for a business permit, once again if not submitted prior to the 1st April you may no longer qualify.

For those still thinking of making an application, seek advice or hold off until the details are clearer.

General work permits

This will effect those who have commenced the process but have yet to apply along with those planning future applications:

Changes include:

  • Employers must ensure passport valid
  • You must get a Department of Labour approval via a certificate – this can take a long time and also we cannot at this stage confirm there requirements and unfortunately they take a great period of time and their requirements are not yet known.
  • Greater emphasis will be placed on proving the employer has made every effort to secure a South African to fill the vacant position.

If you are in the process of applying for a general work permit you must submit before the 1st April, if you cannot you may not meet the new criteria.

If you need further information you can contact Intergate on 021 4242460 or info@intergate-immigration.com

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