New visa rules forces Homeland to reschedule shooting 4th season in SA

Cape Town – Strict new visa rules issued by the department of home affairs for foreigners coming to work in South Africa is already causing damage to South Africa’s TV and film industry struggling to compete internationally.

The American drama series Homeland, which is due to start filming in Cape Town next month, had to reschedule production days at great expense due to sudden visa changes.

“Many of the actors simply cannot leave their current locations and go back to the UK or US and wait for an unspecified period in London – the requirements and process is unclear to officials and applicants alike. The previous process worked well,” says Theresa Ryan-van Graan, the head of production at Moonlighting Films SA.

The visa application procedure was changed without any notice or consultation with South Africa's TV and film industry, and is jeopardising future investment in South Africa with foreign companies considering where to do location shoots and film movies, TV series and commercials.

The travel and work schedules of many A-list actors – and skilled experts in other fields – are such that they cannot return to their home countries to submit applications, as this would create additional cost and inconvenience and severely hamper projects, investment and job creation required by the country, says Leon Isaacson, the managing director of Global Migration SA.

Previously the department of home affairs' head office issued a letter of permission after an application was made, which was then attached to an application made at an embassy or port of entry.

This has now changed. All applications made by visa-exempt or visa-restricted applicants, must be made abroad.

“The directive is not clear regarding whether the applicant must make a full application in person at the SA Mission abroad for a visa-exempt applicant, or whether an approval letter will be issued by the Mission in such a case, and presented at the port of entry on arrival,” says Isaacson.

“There is also no indication of how long the process will take, and there is conflicting information about the requirements, which creates confusion all-round.”

“There needs to be a comprehensive policy review with a working, efficient system which facilitates much-needed investment and growth. Immigration is a critical part of that process and should be responsive and efficient,” says Isaacson.

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