THE High Commission of Zambia to South Africa wishes to advise Zambians travelling between Zambia and South Africa to take note of the new South African immigration laws which came into effect following the recent amendment of South Africa’s Immigration Act.
South Africa recently amended its Immigration Act which was subsequently signed into law by President Jacob Zuma on 16th May, 2014.
The advisory follows an incident in which seven members of the Zambia Under 20 Women National Soccer team were prevented from proceeding beyond the immigration check point at Oliver Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg. The seven who had arrived with other team members on the 9:20 hours flight from Lusaka, were allowed to proceed six hours later after the High Commission had engaged the South African Home Affairs authorities.
The seven are Ngambo Musole, Melan Mulenga, Rodah Chileshe, Barbara Banda, Martha Tembo, Hellen Chanda and Penelope Mulumbwa. They could not be allowed to proceed after they were found to be below 18 years.
The 18 players and eight officials are in South Africa for a return leg of the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.
Zambia’s High Commissioner – Designate to South Africa, His Excellency Mr. Emmanuel Mwamba advised that all those intending to travel should take time to consult extensively on the new immigration laws.
“Let’s devote a bit more time to learn what these laws require of us before we set off on our journey. People can even contact us at the Mission so that we can help translate the meaning of these laws,” Mr. Mwamba said.
As of 1st October, 2014, parents or any adult travelling with children under the age of 18 years are required to produce an unabridged birth certificate of the child reflecting the particulars of the parents of the child. Provision is also made for one parent travelling with a child and where one parent or both parents are deceased or the child is travelling with a relative or another person. Certified copies of unabridged birth certificates and parental consent, where applicable, will be acceptable when travelling with children.
South Africa’s Ministry of Home Affairs officially disclosed the new laws to the diplomatic corps at a briefing held on 9th July, 2014 in Pretoria. The Amended Immigration Amendment Acts of 2007 and 2011 came into effect on 26th May, 2014.
Under the new law, Zambia’s exemption from the Visa requirement list has continued and as such nationals travelling to South Africa would be granted a visitors permit at the port of entry for a maximum period of 90 days per annum as has been the case in the past.
Further, under the new law, Visa status application period was changed from 30 to 60 days before the expiry of the current visa. One cannot change from a visitor’s Visa to a different type of Visa or Permit without first exiting South Africa. Applications for change of conditions or long stay Permits other than visitors’ are now made at a South African Mission abroad – i.e. South African High Commission or Consulate.
Previously, nationals could apply for a Temporary Residence Permit whilst using a Visitor’s Visa but the amended law now prohibits foreigners from applying for a Temporary Residence Permit while still in South Africa.
As for Business Visa requirements, applicants are now required to get a letter of recommendation from the Department of Trade and Industry, confirmation from a Chartered Accountant on either capacity to pay pledged capital or actual contribution of capital into a business.
The new law also requires that a foreign applicant makes an undertaking to employ 60 percent of South African nationals in the business once in operation. The Business Visas will only be granted for a renewable three-year period.
The Quota and Exceptional Skills Work Permits have been replaced with the Critical Skills Permit which were expected to provide a more rigorous process of proving that only critical skills qualify for work permits in South Africa. Organisations have to provide proof that all necessary measures were taken in recruitment including evidence of a published national media advert seeking the required skills among the South African nationals. This would be used as part of the proof in showing that all necessary effort was applied in justifying the use of foreign skills.
This change in the Skills Visa requirement would, however, not apply to Diplomats and foreign missions in their employment of personal servants from their countries as their applications will be expressly processed through the Department of International Relations and Cooperation.
The employee applying for an Inter-Company Visa, that is working for a company with branches abroad, needs to be employed with the foreign office for not less than six months before being eligible for transfer to South Africa. The Visa is now available for four years after which the foreign national will have to exit the country.
The new law also came with steep increases in administrative fines that are imposed on those who overstay and any other persons in contravention of the new Immigration Act.
When one’s Visa has expired, they are labelled “Undesirable Persons” before facing a limited ban from re-entering South Africa for periods of one, two or five years. Immigration officers at ports of entry or exit have now been empowered to ban foreigners on grounds of over-staying even for a mere two days.
Those found to have over-stayed by two to five days will be declared “Undesirable Persons” for one year. Those over-staying up to 30 days will be banned for 24 months.
The South African Government has justified the new measures as being informed by the need for the country’s laws to be in line with international immigration standards, improve national security and to curb the high incidences of abuse of the previous Immigration Act.