What is the change? The Department of Home Affairs has issued a directive that restricts short-term work authorization (known as the Section 11(2) endorsement to a visitor’s visa) to 180 days per calendar year. Additionally, in-country renewals of short-term work authorization will be limited to one per year, and a “cooling off” period will be applied to prevent applicants from immediately applying for successive 11(2) endorsements from abroad.

What does the change mean? The directive significantly curtails the use of this popular form of work authorization, which allows foreign nationals to conduct short-term assignments in South Africa, often on a repeat basis.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate.
  • Visas/permits affected: Visitor’s visas endorsed with Section 11(2) work authorization.
  • Business impact: Companies that rely on short-term work authorization for more than 180 days per year may need to find alternative visa categories, such as the intra-company transfer work visa or critical skills work visa, and plan for longer processing times.
  • Next steps: Foreign nationals who have already obtained a 90-day Section 11(2) work authorization followed by a three-month renewal should anticipate that they will not qualify for another renewal within the same calendar year. Foreign nationals will only be granted one three-month renewal per calendar year in-country, and will be subject to a cooling off period before applying for a new Section 11(2) work authorization from outside the country.

Background: The directive was issued by the Acting Director of the DHA and appears to be aimed at curbing abuse of short-term work authorization by foreign nationals who use it to perform continuous work.

Analysis & Comments: The directive significantly restricts the use of short-term work authorization, and businesses should anticipate that they may need to apply for other types of work permits for those who previously relied on Section 11(2) endorsements. The policy was released with no notice to stakeholders, but had been put into practice previously. A new DHA Minister is expected to take office, following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s re-election, and although Ramaphosa is on a pro-business platform, it is not yet clear whether additional changes will be made to immigration policies.

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.