Immigration overhaul to take effect May 26

23 May 14



What is the change? The Immigration Regulations that overhaul South Africa’s immigration laws have been published in the Government Gazette with a start date of May 26.

What does the change mean? The sudden implementation date without a proper rollout period or preparation by the regional offices or South African overseas missions means that there will be significant delays and challenges over the coming months. All current cases that have not yet been filed will require review to determine how the changes will affect them; many cases will require revision.

  • Implementation timeframe: May 26.
  • Visas/permits affected: All visas and work permits.
  • Who is affected: Foreign nationals applying for visas and work permits.
  • Impact on processing times: Significant delays in processing over the next several months.
  • Business impact: The anticipated lengthy delays and confusion will likely cause business interruptions.
  • Next steps: Work with your BAL attorney to review current cases and revise them before filing.

Background: The Immigration Regulations put into effect changes stemming from the Immigration Amendment Act No. 3 of 2007 and the Immigration Amendment Act No. 13 of 2011.

Among the many changes, applications for Quota and Exceptional Skills Work Permits will no longer be available. Also, applications for General Work Permits (soon to be known as Work Visas) will now require recommendation from the Department of Labour in a process likely to carry longer processing times.

Applications submitted to the Department of Home Affairs before May 26 should be governed by the legislation prior to the amendments.

The South African missions abroad most likely are not prepared for the implementation and new application forms prescribed in the new Immigration Regulations have not been printed.

BAL Analysis: This is a major overhaul to South Africa’s immigration laws and procedures, and while their implementation was anticipated to take place soon, the government has not made provisions for a transition period. As such, we anticipate that it will take at least three to six months, if not longer, for the overhaul to operate smoothly and companies should be prepared for significant delays in the coming months.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in South Africa. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

Copyright © 2016 Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. All rights reserved. Reprinting or digital redistribution to the public is permitted only with the express written permission of Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. For inquiries please contact