IBN met with Mr Ben Makhalemele, the Deputy Director of Corporate Accounts of the South African Department of Home Affairs (DHA) in Johannesburg to find out insights from the Department and recent developments.

Especially about the about latest developments within DHA, in particular when the recently announced White Paper on Immigration will be implemented and also how the DHA is in practice making use of its mobile offices.

Firstly, Mr Makhalemele made clear that new legislation, such as the White Paper on Immigration will only be implemented after thorough consultation with the business sector from March 2018 onwards.

The DTI obviously doesn’t want to impose changes in the legal immigration framework without taking the objections and thoughts of all vested groups into consideration prior to making amendments.

Taking the past development and the corresponding timeframes into consideration, we assume that the announced changes will be released at the earliest in the second half of 2018. But the final realisation through the enactment in parliament could easily take until 2019.

The so-called Critical Skills list of South Africa will be modified and become broader in its range, again with prior harmonisation with the affected industry which has already been invited to make proposals for reasonable changes and possible identification of new Critical Skills which should be added to the existing list.

Some Skills might even be required in special geographical areas in South Africa. For instance, engineers could be required in South African rural areas instead of the – currently most attractive areas for expats – Johannesburg and Cape Town.

As already promulgated in the White Paper, South Africa will adopt a more holistic and comprehensive approach regarding work authorisations in the future and adopt a point-based system to evaluate the qualifications of each applicant, following the Australian and Botswanan example.

The use of mobile submission units which have already been established shall increase as soon as possible. These units which are used for the submission of applications by VFS shall be available at locations where the applicants are typically situated, like universities, power plants and car manufacturing plants.

An on-site liaison officer has been established in Gaborone, Botswana and other capitals of member states of the South African Development Community (SADC) to align the jurisdictions of the member states of the SADC with respect to immigration matters. The long-term goal will be a complete alignment of the immigration system in the SADC which has been reported by IBN as one of the cornerstones of the White Paper.

The DHA started continued the establishment of so-called premium visa centres where one-stop-solutions are provided to applicants, which demand additional services, like business registration, etc.

As a summary, the DHA seems to evolve in a manner which tries to be in best coordination with its interest groups and the target groups which are affected by new immigration legislation. In contrast to the drastic and unpredictably changes through the reform of 2014, future changes in legislation will be implemented only after thorough consultation and with more foresight than in the past.

For a most recent update about the South African immigration landscape click here.

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by Andreas Krensel