Important notice to clients: warning to all clients who have applied for extension or variation of existing permits and have not received timeous outcomes.
With immediate effect we advise all clients, who have pending applications which have not been finalised, not to travel out of South Africa without first consulting our office as to the potential consequences of travelling as a visa “overstayer”, due to changes which came into effect last week. If you are unsure of your situation email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS PUBLISHES THE CRITICAL SKILLS VISA LIST AND RELEVANT DIRECTIVE TO CERTAIN CATEGORIES OF VISAS.
The Minister of Home Affairs has under government gazette nr 37716 on the 3rd of June, becoming available on the 4th of June 2014 published the critical skills visa list setting out the trades, professions and occupations which will enable and empower foreign national applicants to apply for a critical skills visa.
The criteria remain much the same as the previous quota category of work permit, in other words an applicant who qualifies in terms of skills qualification in one of the categories will still have to provide, in addition to the normal and usual forms and documents which have to be provided, the following:
- Confirmation in writing from the accredited professional body council or board recognised by SAQA or any relevant government department confirming the skills or qualifications of the applicant and appropriate post-qualification experience
- Proof of application for certificate or registration with the accredited professional body, council or board recognised by SAQA
- Proof of evaluation of the foreign qualifications by SAQA translated by a sworn translator into one of the official languages of the Republic
- Proof of employment within 12 months after obtaining critical skills work visa in a form of an employment contract specifying the occupation and capacity which the foreigner shall be employed.
In other words once a critical skills visa has been issued, it is not employer specific and enables the holder of such visa to enter the Republic of South Africa and find employment in their skills set and such visa would then enable them to work on the basis that they would have to provide proof of employment within 12 months.
The critical skills visa list is available and can be viewed on our website at www.immigration.org.za under the “Breaking News” icon.
Certain relevant directives have been issued by the Minister of Home Affairs that are pertinent to other categories of visas, the first of these being that the relatives permit visa which required “joint means of support” between the South African relative who is bringing in their relative within two degrees on kinship has been raised from R5000 per month to R8500 per month.
In the category of permanent residence in the financially independent category as envisaged by Section 27(f) of the Immigration Act, the minimum net-worth has been pushed up from R7,5 million to R12 million and the payment of R75 000 is a once-off non-refundable payment with the Director General of Home Affairs has been upped to R120 000.
Further directives are expected shortly and we will be advising clients as to the relevance thereof insofar as it may affect them.
The general work permit provisions in the amended regulations require that advertisement and salary benchmarking certifications for which the employer had the option to obtain from private agencies has been removed and replaced with an obligation to approach the Department of Labour to certify that no South African citizens or permanent residents could be found for a specific position. The benchmarking will also be done by the Department of Labour.
What stakeholders have not been informed is what the procedures will be with the Department of Labour and at this stage we are endeavouring to obtain more detail and will carry such news as it becomes available. This specific provision is not good news as prior experience with the Department of Labour has been that such certifications can take months to finalise. Such timeframes would be totally unacceptable.
The Director General of Home Affairs, without “pomp and ceremony” announced last week that all the regional offices of the Department of Home Affairs are now closed to the public in respect of temporary and permanent residence permits and applicants in person will have to present themselves to the offices of the Visa Facilitation Service in their area for biometric/fingerprinting in order to initiate applications after an electronic submission has been made and payment of the visa facilitation’s fee of R1350 per applicant has also been made to VFS.
The VFS online system has not been operational at time of this article but we will similarly be keeping an eye on the situation and giving clients guidance in this regard.
We will continue to accompany the clients and continue to process their applications but the biometric identification option means that physical presence by the applicant is required at time of lodgement.
Priority lodgements in the VIP section of VFS can be made at an additional cost and we will communicate this through to our clients as soon as we have the information.
We would suggest to clients that you keep monitoring the “Breaking News” icon on our website where we will be uploading on an ongoing basis, the latest news.
As always, we endeavour to keep you up to date on all Immigration related issues
TARRYN POKROY RIETVELD
THE TEAM AT JULIAN POKROY ATTORNEYS