started this petition to
Minister of South African Home Affairs Mr Malusi Gigaba
Dear Mr. Malusi Gigaba,
The Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs needs to meet immediately in order to revise and debate the new legislation brought into effect without public appeal or grace period on the 26th of May 2014. The reasons for the immediate revision of the laws are listed below and have been collected from various South Africans and foreigners working in SA and which have since been published on a multitude media channels across South Africa and abroad since the new laws were passed:
- The department did not allocate sufficient time for public comment in February when the draft regulations were gazetted.
- The regulations’ various omissions and lack of definitions and criteria raise serious concerns and will be subject to misappropriation and abuse by the department and its officials.
- The new immigration law prohibits foreigners from using agents or lawyers for visa applications, calling for all applicants to apply in person.
- People who enter South Africa as visitors are barred from renewing or changing their visa status while in the country. Foreigners must renew visas from the country they reside in.
- It has left thousands of people trapped both in and outside the South African borders with no body/ organization / institution or entity not even the newly appointed VFS Global to turn to in order to resolve each case.
- Mothers and/or fathers are being declared "undesirable" and banned for 12 to 60 months, often because the Department concerned is unable to process their applications within a reasonable time.
While the regulations governing travel for foreigners residing in SA, and children, may well be correct and good, their implementation without a period of grace leaves much to be desired.
- The new regulations also affect businesses looking for workers with skills they cannot find locally and could frustrate highly skilled foreigners seeking to live and work here lawfully.
- The fact is that some people applied for permits/visas up to two years ago, and now find themselves unable to leave the country for fear of being banned and thus separated from their families.
- It’s going to be longer processing times; it’s going to be a lot more documentation. The process is going to be very cumbersome and it is almost certainly going to detract from foreign investors wanting to invest, start businesses and work with South African businessmen.
- A British national Olivia Lock, like many others, who is married to a South African, was banned in May for 12 months for leaving South Africa while on an expired visa. She had been waiting for the outcome of her visa renewal application.
- Before, one could travel using a receipt from home affairs indicating their application was pending but now this is no longer the case and anyone travelling on an expired permit could be declared “undesirable” and banned from returning to the country for up to five years.
- Under the new regulations applicants for general work visas will be required to obtain certification from the department of labour, stating among other things that their salary and benefits are commensurate with those paid to South African citizens in similar positions. How long this will take to process “remains to be seen”.
- The revised immigration rules do not take into account South Africa’s labour context and skills shortages, which might discourage foreign investors.
- The Board of Airline Representatives South Africa (Barsa) said in a statement made available to APA on Tuesday that the new immigration rules would cost the country billions in lost tourism business.
- Furthermore, the full cost of these regulations to our local economy and country’s reputation remain to be seen.
In less than a month the new regulations have already ripped apart families, dissuaded investors, and led to the suspension and even cancellation of multi-million rand film and tourism ventures and much more. As FIPSA chairman, Gershon Mosiane, pointed out “The Constitutional Court says you cannot deprive someone the right to live (as they want). We don’t want an environment of anarchy; we want a constitution in line with the international law." Chairman of the Immigration Law Specialist Committee of the Law Society of South Africa Julian Pokroy agrees: “Family life (is sacrosanct) and anything that prevents people from being together is unconstitutional”. Thus we ask for the following actions to be put into place and emergency meeting of the Home Affairs Portfolio Committee to discuss the following:
We propose the implementation of a period of grace (six months) in the implementation of the new regulations, so that:
- Foreigners resident in South Africa can travel in and out of the country with receipts proving that the necessary applications for visas or permits have been made for that period, and until their applications have been finalized;
- People can travel with their children;
- People have sufficient time to obtain all necessary documents, such as unabridged birth certificates, passports, identity documents and visas or permits, before issuing new regulations, which require these documents.
-A meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs and request that these regulations be reviewed and debated by the committee and a sufficient grace period be given to current applicants in order to clarify and determine the below points:
• The list of skills eligible for the newly instituted Critical Skills work visa;
• What according to the Department and its regulations is considered businesses in the ‘national interest’; and
• What the Department and its regulations consider "undesirable business" among other things.
We understand that your objective is to protect the integrity of our borders and the sovereignty of our country, but the above reasons are enough proof that they in fact do not facilitate socio-economic development of this great country. We therefore ask that this matter be brought to your immediate attention and the above points and issues raised be resolved in accordance with our constitution.