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What new visa regulations mean to us

by Ant Katz | Jun 16, 2014

Getting clarity from a new Government with a new minister of Home Affairs (who I personally think is among the best minister we have) with a new set of six amendments to the immigration and visa laws has been a three week long struggle for me.

There have been a multitude of reasons that have led to the information hiatus – not least of which was that media relations head honcho (and another of my favourite and forthright contacts) Ronnie Mamoepa moved from Home Affairs to the Office of the Deputy President in the middle of all of this.

Suffice it to say that the DOHA had not filtered down the implications of their new regulations to their head office, provincial HQs and regional offices and therefore nobody was able to make a call on exactly what it all meant.

Apart from the implications for SA Jewry and Israelis in SA, I had a personal vested interest in getting a ruling as my SA citizen daughter is coming to marry her foreign citizen beau in SA in August and immigration officials could not tell us if the wedding could go ahead.

Thank G-d, it can.

My questions were being bounced around between media and technical practitioners at DOHA and, in the end, it required my getting lucky and catching the Deputy Director General of Immigration Services at DOHA, Jackie Mckay, on his cell phone between meetings.

 

Limited time

In the limited time Mckay (yes, it is with a small ‘k’) could give me, I managed to get the following answers - which were published as follows in the SAJR print edition last week:

Amended immigration and visa rules which came into effect on 26 June stand to affect many aspects of SA life. While effective, the six new laws are facing criticism for being too harsh on foreigners.

The new affect visa, residential and businesses applications. The new amendments do not apply retrospectively but are currently in force for all new visa applications.

Jewish Report today spoke to the Deputy Director General of Immigration Services, Jackie Mckay, and posed certain questions.

SAJR: In the case of foreign citizens who currently have work permits or study visas, could they be affected on re-application?

Mckay said that in the case of study visas, SA currently issued these annually. In future they will be granted for the period of the course being studied. But media reports suggest it will be harder to qualify in future. In the case of work permits, it will be much tougher.

SAJR: What will the effect be on, say, a specialised Jewish Rabbi or Judaic teacher seeking a work permit in SA if there are not enough specialised people to perform these duties? (An example would be a Mehadrin Commission shochet.)

Mckay told the Report that such applications would not meet the new “critical skills” test – but that they may be able to apply under the “cultural exchange” rules.

SAJR: With a relatively small SA Jewish population, further reduced by those who want to marry a person of the same sect, many SA Jews (both SA citizens and non-citizen residents) seek spouses overseas. Will this practice be affected by the denial of spousal visas?

Mckay said that spousal visas still exist. Reading the new regulations, however, it is clear that the granting of a spousal visa (which allows one to work, stay in SA and study) can certainly not be taken as a fait accompli as in the past.

SAJR: Will the new requirements with regard to marriages affect people NOT seeking immigration or spousal rights? If an SA citizen who, say, has been living and working in Israel or the US and plans to marry a foreign citizen in SA for family reasons, would they be able to? Nobody at Home Affairs below Mckay was able to answer this.

Mckay said that this would be permitted in the case where the foreign national did not need a visa to enter SA – such as a UK or Israeli citizen. They would simply enter SA with an entry stamp on their passport and there would be no visa requirement.

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