DA says it is willing to take visa issues further if DHA fails to react to their proposals
The Democratic Alliance have met with South Africa’s Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba and discussed concerns over some of the new visa regulations. The Democratic Alliance’s Haniff Hoosen released feedback about the meeting yesterday.
The DA have, on request of Minister Gigaba, produced and submitted our position on the visa regulations and addresses concerns about the Visa Facilitation Centres, visas for foreign students, visitor’s visas, the issue of unabridged birth certificates, the conditions of the business and critical skills visas and declaring people ‘undesirable’.
These are highlights from a media statement released by the DA earlier today:
Visa Facilitation Centres: The new regulations dictate that government will now run visa facilitation centres.
DA proposal: Before going ahead with this plan, the department should conduct a regulatory impact assessment. Private immigration practitioners should be allowed to continue assisting companies with business and corporate visas that do not require biometric validation. This way, private players will continue to source private investors to help facilitate foreign direct investment.
Foreign Students: The regulations now require foreign students to leave South Africa as soon as their studies are complete. This is bizarre given the critical skills shortage in the country.
DA proposal: Amend the regulations to allow foreign students with critical skill sets (as recently gazetted) to stay after their studies are completed.
Visitors Visas: The new regulations require all potential tourists to apply for a visa to South Africa in person, at a visa facilitation centre, in order to submit fingerprints.
DA proposal: We should make it as easy as possible to travel to South Africa. We should implement an e-visa system so that foreigners can apply and pay online to come to South Africa. In addition, we should allow for the capturing of fingerprints at the ports of entry instead of during the visa application process.
Unabridged Birth Certificates: Regulations now require any South African travelling to and from South Africa with children to produce an unabridged birth certificate for the children.
DA proposal: Significantly delay the implementation of this policy until the department is able to consistently produce unabridged birth certificates within a set timeframe.
Business Visas: The current visa regime requires 11 conditions for first-time foreign investors, and 13 for foreign investors that have already invested in a business in SA.
DA proposal: Increase the length of a business visa to 10 years, and cut the required capital investment in half and introduce a small business visa for start-up investors.
Critical Skills Visas: Applicants seeking a critical skills visa must now apply for confirmation from South African professional bodies that they do in fact possess the relevant skills.
DA proposal: Waive the requirement for confirmation from professional bodies.
Intra-Company Work Visas: The intra-company work visa allows foreign firms to bring in foreign workers that are much less paid than their South African equivalents.
DA proposal: Introduce an equitable process for general work visas and intra company work visas.
’Undesirable Persons’: Foreigners living in South Africa all have temporary permits that need to be periodically renewed by the Department of Home Affairs. This re-application process is currently dysfunctional, causing many foreigners to inadvertently “overstay” their existing permits as they wait for Home Affairs to process their renewals. They are branded as ‘undesired persons’.
DA proposal: Allow ports of entry to access a ‘visa application register’ in order to determine whether or not a traveller who has overstayed, is awaiting an extension application. Those innocent travellers should not be classified as ‘undesirable’.
Permanent Relationships: To qualify for a visa based on a permanent relationship, an applicant has to prove that he/she has been in a relationship for a minimum of 2 years.
DA proposal: The regulations should allow for other factors that can prove legitimacy of relationship.
“The new regulations have significant changes to the original visa regime. South Africans must be made aware of this. The Department should embark on an education campaign,” said the DA’s statement.
But the DA awaits feedback from the minister which have been promised in ‘due course’. The DA added that, “If no response is forthcoming, the DA will pursue every avenue possible to compel the Minister and the department to make the necessary changes.
“These visa regulations, in their current form, will be exceptionally destructive to our economy, our reputation abroad and the lives of our citizens. They are simply not acceptable and the DA will do everything we can to change them.”
The DA continues to say that the regulations “convey an unfriendly, unwelcoming message to foreigners who wish to live here, do business here or move here to live with South Africans they might love.”