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Home Affairs working on major visa changes for South Africa

Source: Businesstech, 15/04/2024

The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has backtracked on its new Immigration Regulations but still has several new initiatives in the pipeline for South Africa.
Minister of Home Affairs Aaron Motsoaledi said that he would withdraw the recently gazetted Immigration Regulation Amendments.
The regulations replaced the highly-contested critical skills list with a new points-based system.
The regulations were received positively by businesses in South Africa, with the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa saying that they should ease the administrative burden that international companies with businesses in South Africa face when hiring skilled foreigners.
However, the Minister still faced backlash after the regulations were published a day prior to the closing date for comments (29 March), which he said was due to being misadvised.
He said that the Department is in the process of finalising the regulations and will provide a revised version next week.
He also announced several significant updates and initiatives within the Department.
Marisa Jacobs, the Managing Director at Xpatweb, broke down the new initiatives:
Remote Work Visa
The Remote Work Visa is designed for individuals wishing to work in South Africa while working for foreign employers.
The visa targets high-earning individuals and aims to stimulate the South African economy.
General Work Visa changes
The aforementioned Points-Based system for a General Work Visa aims to eliminate the need to obtain a letter from the Department of Labour.
This new streamlined approach looks at criteria based on factors, such as age and qualifications to determine visa eligibility on a points-based scale.
Critical Skills List
Organisations can now also expedite the gazetting process for critical skills that are seen as essential, removing the previous four-year waiting period.
This should facilitate swift approval for in-demand skills.
Trusted Employer Scheme
Jacobs said that the Trusted Employer Scheme (TES) has been successful, but the Minister warned that approved Employers will soon face stricter compliance measures, such as random checks by the Department.
Non-compliance would result in the expulsion of the TES program.
That said, the Department is inviting a second round of submissions from qualifying companies to join TES in May 2024.
Management of the Backlog
The Minister also said that 90% of the total backlog faced by the Department is due to Relative, Dependent and Spousal visas, with the delays attributed to challenges in verifying marriages.
A dedicated team has been assigned to expedite applications.
“The DHA plans to provide detailed statistics on visa approvals versus rejections to indicate the current processing times of the various visa categories,” said Jacobs.
“The Minister further touched on the current directive which allows any individual who has applied for an extension of their visa and has received a VFS receipt status in South Africa while awaiting the outcome of the application.”
Review of the White Paper
The DHA is also reviewing laws outlined in the highly controversial White Paper on Citizenship, Immigration and Refugee Protection, with a focus on replacing certain sections.
The White Paper aims to amend the South African Citizenship Act, which Motsoaledi called a ‘relic of the colonial era’, but Rebecca Walker and Loren B Landau from the University of the Witwatersrand that the changes are just a smokescreen to distract voters from the government’s failures ahead of the elections.
“Changes being considered adhere strictly to regulatory frameworks, ensuring compliance and legality,” said Jacobs.
New Start-up Visa
A new start-up visa is also being considered for individuals wishing to open or invest in a small- or medium-sized business in South Africa.
Concerned individuals will also be afforded access to the corporate account unit within the DHA.
Key Take Away
“Where you need an urgent work or residency visa, the process has not changed much for the past two years �` you need to apply as early as possible and be ready for legal escalation where DHA do not do their job,” said Jacobs
“We are cautiously optimistic, as we are seeing quicker turnaround on some matters. Yet, we were also today in court against DHA, so there remain two sides to the coin.”
“A correctly issued work and residency permit is one of the most stressful events where it goes wrong, as it impacts every aspect of one’s life.”

South Africa Immigration Company