SA hopes to ease permit entry for foreigners

2011-02-18 12:57

Home Affairs wanted it to be easier for foreigners to work, study and travel in South Africa, Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said today.

The minister told a media briefing in Cape Town she hoped to cut red tape in the country’s permit regime, while at the same time stepping up controls designed to keep criminals out of the country.

“We would like to actually make it much easier for genuine business, critical skills, students to have their permits done.

“For example, if a CEO of a company or any critical skill joins a company, they need to give us a police clearance for 20 years. Now you might find that person has been to four, five countries and he has to write to all these different countries to ask for clearance from the police.

“So our view is that genuine credible business entities, companies, should be able to do their checking themselves and should be able to take responsibility for the people they bring into this country and therefore we are developing a system which is going to make it very easy to get a permit.

“At the same time we are going to put quite strong measures for people who are high risk, who are abusing our system.”

Dlamini-Zuma said the new system would allow for longer permits for foreign workers and students, so that they no longer had to renew their documents every year.

“What self-respecting engineer would want to leave his or her country to come to a country where the permit is one year. We are giving them enough years so that they can plan their lives.”

Similarly visas for students should be valid for the entire duration of their studies.

The current system contributed to backlogs and corruption as it created scope for officials to demand bribes from frustrated applicants, she said.

She said her department had implemented a tracking system for work permit applications and hoped to clear its existing backlog by midyear.

“We are confident that we are dealing with them and, as soon as we have cleared the backlog, we will not accumulate another backlog.”

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