Why was there no transitional period for new visa rules?

2014-06-26 15:18

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Cape Town - My name is Joachim Schuckmann, I am Immigrations Director at Initiate Immigration (Pty) Ltd.
 
I would like to comment on the feedback and information some immigration agents and immigration lawyers have been sharing with the public over recent weeks.
 
Although change in the immigration legal framework was necessary for a number of reasons (marriage of convenience, child trafficking, and corruption at Home Affairs) the processes which the Department of Home Affairs have chosen, have proven to be greatly misguided. This has repeatedly been seen over the past 2 weeks and has fortunately also been picked up by the media.
 
Most stakeholders within the industry, barring the Department of Home Affairs it seems, agree that proper planning and a transition period would have been beneficial to allow the public an opportunity to familiarise itself with the new laws and processes. Some individuals and families have now been adversely affected by the Department’s blind determination to push through changes within a very short period of time.
 
This lack of appropriate planning and consultation has led to Home Affairs’ officials not being prepared or trained and thus not being in a position to answer any questions the public might have had regarding the new laws. This in turn has led to a great number of immigration agents disseminating incorrect interpretations of the law, which has created a certain degree of panic due the information and feedback from Home Affairs and other agents being inconsistent.
 
Every decision the Department of Home Affairs has taken over the past 3 weeks has affected thousands and perhaps millions of lives (unfortunately the Department of Home Affairs has no official or unofficial figure of the amount of foreigners in the country). But with virtually no warning or consultation, in some cases not even a 24 hour notice, rumours are very quickly distributed as fact as uncertainty reigns.
 
Change in the law was needed and it is a view shared by most of the reputable consultancies that the majority of changes which have been proposed in the new regulations are consistent with immigration and visa laws around the world, and so offer balance for the need to attract foreign skills as well as protect the local labour force and the population of South Africa as a whole.
 
A number of immigration agents will, however, not be able to cope with the changes and their claims that the laws are unconstitutional are based on the fact that they will not be able to adapt. “Making a plan” by making false claims in applications, abusing legal loopholes or worse paying officials to ensure the issuance of a visa, will not be possible anymore and immigration service provider will need to start adding real value instead of exploiting the system.
 
What is undoubtedly a disgrace and in some cases unlawful, perhaps even unconstitutional, is the manner in which the Department has decided to roll out the changes. And thanks to the media the shortcoming have been highlighted and the impact was instant.
 
I thank you for the work you have done, continue to do, and the opportunity to provide you with my opinion.

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Read more on:    department of home affairs  |  travel international  |  immigration  |  visa

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