In June 2016, the South African Department of Home Affairs published a Green Paper on Migration which was open for public comment. This paper proposed that international migration must be managed proactively and strategically in order to contribute to national priorities such as nation building and social cohesion, inclusive economic growth and national security

On 14 February 2017, the Department of Home Affairs met with the Home Affairs Portfolio Committee to provide an update on the progress made towards the development of a new White on International Migration and to seek input from the Committee on the content of the Green Paper.

Some of the proposed changes are summarised below:

  1. Establishment of a Border Management Authority: to allow for Integrated border control between customs and and immigration. The core functions will be to ensure the efficient and humane delivery of secure services. The intention is to establish the authority formally by end of March 2017.
  2. Delinking of residency from citizenshipto take into account the national priorities of the country when granting permanent residence and citizenship status.  Main considerations will be based on skills and/or investment and/or family-based criteria.
  3. The introduction of the point based systemfor the attraction of migrants with skills, investment and business interests. This system can respond more strategically and flexibly to changing situations and needs.
  4. Management of international migrants with skills and capitalpermanent residence and citizenship should be used to attract high value-migrants. The granting of critical skills and business visas should include family members. The holders of business and critical skills visas should be fast-tracked to permanent residence.
  5. Strategic use of visa and permitting to retain international post graduate students: international students who graduate within the critical skills occupations should be granted permanent residence.
  6. National training scheme and transfer of skills: recruitment of skilled migrants must be linked to a mechanism that ensures the direct or indirect transfer of skills to citizens. Establishment of a national training scheme, to be funded by South African employers of foreign nationals, and the funds to be used to train South Africans in the required skills.
  7. Greater Integration and development of the African continent: granting of a long term multiple-entry visas for frequent travellers, business people and academics. Introduction of a new work visa specifically for nationals of the South African Development Community (SADC), cross border traders and SMME’s.
  8. Asylum seeks automatic right to work: removal of the automatic right of asylum seekers to work and study in South Africa given that their basic requirements will be met.
  9. To foster ties with diaspora communities: in order to reap the full benefits of South Africans working and studying abroad. This could include the establishment of an institution to actively promote emigration to meet varied national goals such as labour and study exchange programs.Tapping into the resources of the diaspora and embracing the diaspora communities by offering various services such as multinational citizenship, consular services and reintegration schemes.

Next Steps 
The Department of Home Affairs plans to present its proposals to the Cabinet by the end of March 2017. Once approval by Cabinet, the White paper will be published for further public comment.  New Legislation should be reviewed by Parliament towards the end of 2017.

Comments from EOG
The White Paper is expected to focus on ensuring compliance from companies who hire foreign workers. This will mean that increased inspections will be done at companies and stricter rules/penalties on companies who donot have the proper Immigration documents for their foreign workers.

There is a also a focus on ensuring that South African are trained and therefore the proposal for the introduction of a national training scheme to be funded by South African employers. This will mean that it will be expensive to hire foreign workers as companies will have to pay an additional fee towards the training scheme.

On the positive side there is a benefit for critical skilled workers and investors as there is a recommendation for permanent residence to be fast tracked.

Priority will be given to skilled workers from the SADC region by the introduction of a long term work visa.

Introduction of the point based system could result in an easier and transparent process.

Expats on the Globe (EOG) will be monitoring this process closely and will provide a further update on the White Paper as soon as it is published.

Should you have any questions regarding the above communication, kindly contact us.

NameMobile numberOffice number
Connie Peter+27 82 496 5827+27 10 500 0316  
Sunitha Jeewan+27 82 086 2229+27 10 500 0310 

The information contained in this Immigration Alert may not be relied or acted upon without prior consultation.

No liability is accepted for the consequence of any inaccuracies contained in this Immigration Alert.