New immigration laws in South Africa


Are the new immigration laws in South Africa affecting international business? In this post, we will be discussing the new immigration laws in South Africa and whether or not they affect your business in South Africa.

South Africa is considered the most diverse and complex population in the world. According to “of the 51.7 million South Africans, over 41 million are black, 4.5 million are white, 4.6 million are coloured and about 1.3 million Indian or Asian. About 51.3% are female, and 48.7% male”. In 2011, when CENSUS calculated the population of all South Africans, it concluded that the country’s population stands at 51.77-million, however this does not include the legal and illegal immigrants who inhabit the land of South Africa.

The South African immigration laws has always tried to maintain an international level of service, however South Africa is plagued with massive numbers of fellow illegal African foreigners. It is very difficult to estimate the exact number of illegal foreigners that flock into South Africa every day and every year. According to the Christian Science, the Human Sciences Research Council “once estimated that there are 4 to 8 million undocumented migrants in South Africa, but later withdrew the figure”. The Christian Science Monitor also reported that Statistics South Africa once estimated “undocumented persons in the country to be somewhere in the range of 500, 000 to 1 million”. Other academic groups recorded their own findings, such as the Forced Migration Studies Program from the University of Witwatersrand, who estimated the overall foreign population in South Africa at 1.6 million to 2 million.

In early 2014, talks about the renewal and implementation of new immigration laws in South Africa surfaced. On the 16th May 2014, the president of South Africa Jacob Zuma and the then Minister of Home Affairs signed off on new immigration regulation and on the 26th of May 2014 the new laws were made official and put into place. These new laws specifically affect foreigners looking to stay, study, work and open or own a business in South Africa.

The law changes include but are not limited to; General work visa, scarce/critical skill work visa, visitor’s visa, business visa, intra-company visa, eradication of exceptional skills quota permit categories, life partner and spousal visa, changing to another visa whilst in South Africa, study visa/exchange visa, retirement visa and asylum transit visa. According to the initial government gazette that specified the amendments, fines will no longer be charged for overstaying and persons who found guilty of this restriction will be deemed undesirable.

These renewals and amendments have struck a series of debates across the country including radio talk shows and deliberations. However, when the newly appointed Home Affairs Minister, Malusi Gigaba announced the new immigration rules it stirred up some fire with some immigration lawyers who have since been reported to gear up for possible litigation to have the laws reviewed. With these new laws in effect since the 26 of May 2014, The Forum of Immigration Practitioners of South Africa (FIPSA) have since taken offense to the new laws particularly with regards to a clause dealing with spousal visa, the FIPSA feel that the government cannot impose on personal matters. The FIPSA argues that the government did not allocate enough time for public comment in February “when draft immigration regulations were gazetted under then minister Naledi Pandor”.

When in need to open a business in South Africa, make sure that you are compliant with business rules and regulations. Make use of our comprehensive corporate intelligence services to ensure that you are in the right position to start a fruitful business in Africa.

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