What is the change? South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs has published new draft immigration regulations that introduce changes to certain visa categories and relax the documentary rules for traveling minors. Additional changes are expected in March under an amended Immigration Act.

Key points:

  • Critical skills visas. The list of critical skills occupations which may be filled by foreign workers is being revised and is expected to exclude general management and IT-related professions, in an effort to narrow the list to more technical skills.
  • Traveling minors. Burdensome rules on traveling minors have been relaxed. Foreign minors who are traveling to South Africa will generally not need to present an unabridged birth certificate if the child’s passport contains details of the parental relationship. Parents or other adults traveling with South African children must present a copy of the child’s birth certificate and/or other proof of the relationship. When only one parent is traveling with a minor child, they may be asked for a letter of consent from the other parent and other evidence of the absent parent. Unaccompanied minors will still be required to carry a copy of their birth certificate and other evidence of parental permission to travel.
  • General work visas. Decisions on general work visa applications, either approving the applications or giving reasons for rejection, will now be sent to the prospective employer.
  • Corporate visas. Decisions on corporate visa applications will now be sent to the prospective corporate applicant either approving the application or giving the reasons for rejection.
  • Unmarried couples. There is more clarity around the definition of spouse and visa eligibility, i.e., dependent visas for unmarried same-sex or opposite-sex partners. The applications would still require evidence that the relationship has existed for at least two years, evidence of mutual financial support to each other and proof of the dissolution of any previous marriages. After two years from the issuance of a dependent visa, the couple must still inform the DHA if the relationship still exists.
  • Business visas and permanent residence in this category. An option has been added for chartered accountant certification. As an alternative, applicants may now obtain a factual finding report that can be signed off by either a professional accountant or business accountant.

Background: The reforms are intended to ease visa rules to attract foreign direct investment and tourism.

Analysis & Comments: South African employers should anticipate additional changes in the coming months under a new Immigration Act in March, visa waivers for additional nationalities, eased visa rules for visitors from India and China, and the release of the revised critical skills list in April.

Source: Deloitte LLP. Deloitte LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC303675 and its registered office at 1 New Street Square, London EC4A 3HQ, United Kingdom.