South Africa’s economic growth has been stagnant as of late, and as one of the leaders on the continent, other countries look to RSA for resources, encouragement and opportunity.
Being a developing third world country has its growing pains, and many realise the potential it has but feel legislation, and current red tape has kept foreign investment and skills at arm’s length. While immigration can be tedious and stressful in any country, South Africa has been earmarked to be a bit too complex at times
The Department of Home Affairs has made some changes about this; to boost tourism and to encourage a lot more business opportunities.
So how do they aim to achieve this? Let’s look at what these new changes are, which has been announced on Tuesday 25 September 2018.
Major immigration changes coming soon
E-visas are coming
E-visas are an electronic form of your visa paperwork. From Autumn 2019, South Africa is looking to trial this system with travellers to and from New Zealand.
Additionally, E-gates are also being introduced, which means that you just scan your passport and look into a camera, allowing you to progress through border control without having to wait in long queues or face any human interaction.
Long-term multiple entry visas
Gigaba’s aims are not just about tempting new visitors to South Africa each year but are firmly focused on keeping the returning tourists happy.
It is with this intent there will be a roll-out of three long-term visas for travellers from certain areas. South Africa is earning its spot at the Brics table, by proposing residents of Brazil, Russia, India and China – a 10-year multiple entry visas. Likewise, for academics and business people from Africa is also in the works.
Additionally, a new three-year multiple entry visa that will be offered to frequent travellers who come.
Visa applications have been made much easier for Chinese and Indian tourists
Travelling to South Africa just got a whole lot easier for Chinese and Indian visitors. These changes will come into effect:
- Visa applications for South Africa can now be made via courier, rather than in person.
- Biometrics will only be taken on arrival in SA.
- Five-year multiple entry visas will also be offered.
Critical skills update
By April 2019, Home Affairs will have a revised critical skills list for foreigners. However, they are likely to add more fields of employment to the list, opening the doors for a broader range of skilled and valuable migrant workers.
Importantly, international students who graduate from South African university courses related to the critical skills shortlist will be presented the chance to apply for permanent residency.
However, the new list “ implies that high-level CEOs, business managers and consultants will no longer be able to apply for scarce skills visas, which raises questions about whether foreign business investors and multinationals will be able to support their local investments with the right level of staff,” Stefanie de Saude-Darbandi states.
Visa waiver agreements
A total of 19 countries are in line to be granted visa-free travel to South Africa.
- Africa: Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Sao Tome and Principe, Tunisia, Ghana, The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (Western Saharans).
- Middle-East: Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Palestine, Iran, Lebannon, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait.
- Europe: Belarus, Georgia.
- North America: Cuba.
Less “minor” issues
Malusi Gigaba announced that there would be less “rigidity” when it comes to the policy of minors travelling to South Africa:
“We are simplifying the rules on travelling minors who are foreign nationals to minimise disruption to legitimate travellers without compromising the safety of minors and the rights of their parents.”
Why the South African government chose to do this
South Africa has made these changes to boost tourism and make business travel a lot more conducive.
“President Ramaphosa said he had personally received complaints about the country’s stringent visa regulations from Chinese President Xi Jinping during his State visit to South Africa in July.”
President Xi Jinping said that many people from China want to travel the world and Africa is one of the places that they want to come to – but they are restricted in coming to South Africa.
How it will affect the country going forward
While the intention of this new Draft bill is to increase visitor and business traffic, de Saude-Darbandi voiced concern when stating
“that stakeholders across immigration and business are voicing increasing apprehension about the potential impact the draft Bill and critical skills list may have on efforts to grow the economy, and efforts are currently underway to form a multi-sectoral task team under the auspices of Business Leadership SA, to take the matter up with the President’s office.”
Thus, while these changes have been announced, it is dependent on how the operation of these changes aid its intent in encouraging growth.
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