Post-event: How does the new immigration regulation impact businesses in South Africa?

On October 16th, the Cap40, the French-South African Chamber of Coommerce, the Belgian Business Network and the Cape Chamber of Commerce jointly hosted a special event aiming at raising awareness on the consequences of the new immigration regulations in place in South Africa since May 2014.

Andreas Krensel, MD of IBN Business & Immigration, gave a comprehensive overview of the reasons, content and consequences of this reform. Anton Rollino, member of the Executive Committee of the Commercial Producers’ Association of South Africa, illustrated the critical consequences the reform can have on an industry where South Africa has performed exceptionally well in the past decades, the film and advertising industry.

The main points Andreas Krensel emphasised on are:

  • When implementing this reform, the sole concern of the Home Affairs was a security one. The only concern of the Hoome Affaire is the security of the borders. The Home Affairs did not take into account the business or diplomatic dimensions of the reform.
  • However, there is an underlying political will to abolish immigration practitioners. One of the changes brought by the reform is that applicants cannot be represented by an attorney or immigration practitioner anymore. 
  • This dimension of the reform seems to be an attempt to weaken the accountability of the Home Affairs, immigration practitioners being in a stronger position than individuals when it comes to holding the Home Affairs accountable.
  • The DTI and Department of Labour are in line with the best international practice, and work very efficiently when their cooperation is required.
  • The new outsourced front-office of the Home Affairs (the Visa Facilitation Service, VFS) is more efficient when it comes to handling the paper work and sending applications to Pretoria. Applications do not get lost anymore.
  • However, the way by which this company has been appointed has not been made public and there was no competitive tender.

The main general changes brought by the new regulations are:

  • Overstay will be penalized by a ban ranging from 1 to 5 years.
  • Changing from tourist visa to any other type of visa in South Africa is impossible. The application must be done in the country of the applicant.
  • All first applications (as opposed to renewal) must be done in person in the home country.
  • Only exemption to this rule is that accompanying spouses or children can apply for a work or study visa in South Africa.
  • For the renewal of a visa, the application must be submitted in person to the VFS at least 60 days before expiry date.

The slides below summarize the changes made to each of the visas:

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