In the spate of controversial incidents of xenophobic attacks in South Africa and the plight of foreign nationals being declared ‘undesirables’ for overstaying their visa regulations it is in the traveller and migrant’s best interest to understand these laws.
But these laws can be complex with very specify limitations and allowances and anyone wishing to enter the Republic would be well advised to seek the guidance of a professional immigration practitioner.
In 2014 the South African government abolished the Quota Work Permit in favour of the Critical Skills Work Permit. Strict travel laws were put in place to protect children and certain visas must now be extended in the applicant’s country of residence. Here’s an overview of some of the new South African immigration and travel regulations.
List of occupations qualifying for critical skills visas
The Department of Home Affairs published the skills list used to determine which occupations qualify for the critical skills visa and Permanent Residence permit in the middle of 2014. This means that foreign nationals can now apply for the critical skills visa instead of a Work Quota Visa.
The critical skills list is comprised of over 100 occupational categories spread out across 12 industry sectors, together with the requirements to qualify in each occupation or under each critical skill. It should be noted that there are no limits to the number of applications that will be accepted for each occupation and foreigners are not required to have a job offer in place but will have to prove their qualifications and experience for the skills and knowledge claimed.
Strict travel document requirements for children postponed
Parents or guardians of children under the age of 18 travelling who are accompanying children internationally to and from South Africa will not have to present their unabridged birth certificates and other documents to prove parental consent.
The rule, which is aimed at combating international child trafficking, applies to South African citizens and foreign nationals. There is one set of requirements for children travelling with their parents and a more burdensome set of requirements for children travelling without their parents, including the requirement to obtain written permission from both parents and guardians authorising the travel. The Department of Home Affairs still plans to implement the new rule to combat international child trafficking, but has delayed the effective date to accommodate accurate and timely communication to South African missions abroad, travel operators and prospective travellers, and to give parents more time to obtain the required documents in time for their children’s travel plans.
Foreign nationals and South African citizens should therefore, obtain unabridged birth certificates well in advance of any international travel to or from South Africa.