Parliamentary committee approves immigration changes

3 Sep 14

SOUTH AFRICA

IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? A committee of South Africa’s Parliament has approved the recent immigration overhaul and urged the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) to implement its provisions.

What does the change mean? The parliamentary review indicates that the new immigration regulations – a massive undertaking that has thrown some areas of the law into confusion and drawn legal challenges to stop its implementation – will move forward.

  • Implementation timeframe: Immediate and ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: All visa categories.
  • Who is affected: Employers and assignees in South Africa.
  • Business impact: Employers should expect the adjustment period to continue for some time as new systems and procedures are put in place.
  • Next steps: The committee will continue to meet with the DHA to address challenges and strive to keep confusion to a minimum.

Background: Following a detailed briefing by the DHA, the chair of Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs announced its support of the changes and said that “these regulations are long overdue and necessary in closing loopholes in the Immigration and Refugee Acts that were systematically used by syndicates to sell South African identity and citizenship.”

The committee noted that the DHA should be aware of “unintended impact” that the new laws may cause, but such challenges “cannot and should not be used as an excuse for non-implementation of the regulations.”

In particular, the committee pointed to the regulation requiring that adults carry unabridged birth certificates for any children traveling with them and noted that the DHA assured the committee that such a rule will be temporary until the DHA implements an electronic verification system.

“Through this envisioned electronic system, the certificate will only be required when applying and stored electronically and parents will then not be compelled to travel with it physically,” the committee chair said in a statement.

BAL Analysis: The announcement signals that the new immigration regulations are going forward in the near term, despite the practical challenges of implementing them. Stakeholders will continue to meet with the Minister of Home Affairs to work out sticking points.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in South Africa. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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