The South African work visa regime urgently needs reform. South African businesses are finding the present process to be extremely onerous and ineffective. This situation has been exacerbated by Covid-19 where processing times have become ridiculously long. Furthermore, there is the assumption in government that skilled immigrants are taking jobs that should be filled by South Africans.
One of the results of this assumption is now evident in the process for the application of a General Work Visa. Previously an application for a waiver of the Department of Labour certificate could be made to the Department of Home Affairs. However, the Department of Home Affairs has now taken the view that they should not issue such waivers, and thus all of these applications are being referred to the Department of Labour. However, the two departments have not agreed how they should interact with regards to the waiver applications, and this has meant that no waiver applications have been processed over the course of the entire year.
Another bottleneck in the system with regards to the recruitment of skilled immigrants now also lies with the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA). Any immigrant applying for a Critical Skills Visa must get their qualifications verified by SAQA. Prior to Covid this process took approximately 1 month, but is now often taking longer than 4 months.
Operation Vulindela, which is a joint initiative between Treasury and the Presidency, as one of its projects is undertaking a review of the work visa regime. The overall purpose of the operation is to try and unblock constraints on growth and address bottlenecks in the system. It is hoped that this will bear fruit, and that a more efficient system can be established.
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