South African provincial rugby side, the EP Kings, have made news after one of their newly acquired foreign imports, Samoan wing Paul Perez, had his contract terminated after disappearing for two days without permission or notice. Under the conditions of Perez’s visa, the EP Kings were obliged to inform the Department of Home Affairs of his absence, and whilst Perez’s termination was based on professional, rather than immigration related grounds, the incident serves as a poignant reminder of the obligations employers need abide by when contracting foreign nationals under different work visas.
The South African critical skills Visa
There are several South African visas that either directly, or through endorsement, makes provision for employment within the Republic. Arguably none however, do so as freely as the critical skills visa. While unfortunately for Perez, rugby players have not been considered critical to the national economy, but should Paul have been an accomplished sheep shearer for an example, a profession that is considered ‘critical’, then it’s likely he would have qualified.
Independence from one’s employer is one of the more notable benefits of a critical skills visa over the more commonly issued general work visa. The employers of general work visa holders are bound by law to inform the DHA when:
- The individual is no longer in their employ
- The individual’s job title or capacity has changed
- The employee fails to comply with any other conditions specified in the Act
The real world consequences of this can often mean having to reapply for your general work visa should you be fired or promoted, which can be tiresome and arduous. Conversely, the critical skills visa gives recipients free rein to change employers or job titles as they please, so long as they remain within the same critical skills field.
The Paul Perez case
Paul Perez has since been an offered an opportunity to prove his worth further up the coast for the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks, so it seems he won’t need to get the sheep shears out just yet.
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