Immigration into South Africa just gets harder

2016-03-09 08:20

While looking at jobs on a South African job aggregator, Adzuna, I came across few that would allow a foreigner the chance of an application. Careers24, Pnet and other job boards do not allow you registration unless you have a valid ID number, something only permanent residents and citizens of South Africa have. This, and other recent changes, have made immigration into South Africa very, very challenging.

Work visas for South Africa

It's no secret that any country prefers to give jobs to the local population. That said, there are lots of cases where an outsider should be considered, even prioritised. Often it is paramount to call on critical skills from abroad, or the spouse of a South African is looking for work.

Currently, immigrants have few work visa options in South Africa, and those that exist are arduous to say the least. The General Work Visa takes at least 3 months to apply for and involves the incompetent Department of Labour. The Intra-Company transfer Work Visa requires the company to be based in South Africa already and that the worker has been with the home company for 6 months already. This is enough to make many turn away, especially when VFS, the Home Affairs Call Centre and the Home Affairs website give conflicting advice on what to do.

The Critical Skills Work Visa is the worst offender, even though it is the easiest to apply for. The trouble lies in at least ten landmines that one can step on in the process. For example, engineers must register with ECSA to prove their skills to Home Affairs, yet ECSA requires a lengthy accreditation process, even for the most seasoned engineering candidates. Once you have obtained a Critical Skills Work Visa, you have to re-apply if you move to a new employer, even though the Immigration Act does not state or require this. What happens in the Act, does not necessarily occur on the ground at Home Affairs or at South African foreign missions.

Immigration into South Africa a minefield

So why, South Africa, if you want to grow your economy, do you make it so difficult for foreign skills to enter the country? Why do you publish a set of rules and laws in your Immigration Act and then run a different set on the ground at your points of application?

Our country direly needs good skills to keep it running - look how Singapore used the skills of expats to grow a huge economy from a very low base. Immigration into South Africa does not need to be so challenging - making it simple will assist both the applicants and Home Affairs, while setting up the country for success.

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