Discussion on new immigration laws continues – Malusi Gigaba

2014-07-04 10:29

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Discussion on the new immigration regulations will continue and problems will be tested to prevent negative impacts on the economy, says Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba.

“Our doors are not closed. We are open to further engagement on the consequences. You can never introduce new regulations that are perfect and will work,” he said at The New Age’s televised breakfast briefing in Midrand today.

“You have to expect that there would be challenges and we are open to testing those on the ground if there is a need to change anything. We are open to continuous engagement with the different parties ... because we wouldn’t want these regulations to have a negative impact on tourism and other elements of our economic growth and development.”

The regulations, which came into effect in May, introduce a new visa regime for South Africa. It outlines a clear distinction between short-stay visas and long-stay permanent residence permits. It also stipulates that visa applications need to be made by applicants in person and that those wanting to change the status of their visa can no longer do so in South Africa, but have to do this at missions abroad.

Gigaba said officials in foreign missions were being trained on the implementation of the legislation.

“We are moving into a new era of immigration management ... It imposes on us to be proactive and it will bring many positive processes to our country. One of the issues is how to manage national security,” he said.

Gigaba said he was pleased with the reaction to the new legislation as it showed that people were participating in the process.

“I’m very happy about the public discourse around the new legislation because it says that South Africans, not only academics and practitioners, are being involved in the process but ordinary South Africans are being drawn in.

“The reaction we got was that some people have rejected it without considering that there are positives and sometimes people reject the legislation when the real issue is about the implementation, and so the regulations themselves don’t pose a problem.”

Gigaba’s department will also appeal a court case it lost in the Western Cape High Court last month in favour of two people separated from their spouses because of immigration laws.

“We are appealing it because we believe we are correct in our approach,” he said at the briefing.

Meanwhile, almost 1 000 immigrants have filed an urgent application in the Western Cape High Court to force the home affairs department to do its job and process their permit applications, The Times reported today.

Another set of applicants, who were granted permits, are seeking payment of repatriation deposits, which cost about as much as a flight back to their home countries.

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