Plans by the South African Department of Home Affairs will have far reaching implications on migrants entering the country and those applying for citizenship.
On Friday the minister, in a press interview, said that the country must begin to strategically manage migration instead of only enforcing laws.
He was speaking at a conference on international migration‚ which including discussions on SA’s new White Paper on International Migration. The draft paper‚ expected to be given to Cabinet by the end of March‚ includes amendments to at least five Acts‚ including the Immigration Act and Marriage Act.
As previously reported the department is set to pursue the management of all aspects of immigration, imports and exports crossing South African borders.
Home Affairs expects the new White Paper to lead to legislative changes by 2018‚ replacing the current 1999 policy document now seen as "outdated".
The proposed changes will amongst others include scrapping the current situation of an automatic progression from residency to citizenship for migrants.
The Green Paper on International Migration‚ published in June 2016‚ proposed sweeping changes to SA's approach to economic migrants‚ refugees and naturalisation.
These included "processing camps" that would house refugees pending adjudication of their cases. It would remove the automatic right to work or study pending the finalisation of an application that would take place in 120 days. This proposal remains‚ with a naturalisation strategy‚ to be developed.
The draft White Paper also proposed the mandatory registration of South African expatriates.
It wants the introduction of a points-based system to determine eligibility criteria for long-term visas‚ which puts an end to a process of automatic citizenship for long-term residents.
According to news reports published in the Business Times aroun 16 million foreigners enter and exit SA every year. With 1 082 669 asylum seekers being registered between 2006 and 2015. South Africa has also deported 369 000 people from 2012 to 2017‚ with Home Affairs estimating that 95% of asylum applications are from economic migrants as opposed to political refugees.