Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba announced a number of measures last week related to visas that are in line with President Ramaphosa’s efforts to boost economic growth.
These measures include the following:
Travel for Minors:
On the topic of minors, Gigaba said that Home Affairs required that minors travelling in or out of the country do so with the consent of both parents as required by the Children’s Act.
“As indicated by the president, we are simplifying the rules on travelling minors who are [specially] foreign nationals to minimise disruption to legitimate travellers without compromising the safety of miners and the rights of their parents. To this end, we will issue an international travel advisory before the end of October, after consultation with the Immigration Advisory Board.
“The key changes will be that rather than requiring all foreign nationals travelling with minors to carry documentation proving parental consent for the travelling minor to travel, we will rather ‘strongly recommend’ that travellers carry this documentation. Our immigration officials will only insist on documentation as the exception – in high-risk situations – rather than for all travellers, in line with practice by several other countries. Rather than denying entry where documentation is absent, travellers will be given an opportunity to prove parental consent.”
This measure has already received severe criticism by the South African Tourism Services Association (SATSA), with it’s CEO, David Frost having the following to say:
“Following the President’s announcement, we had expected full clarity to be provided jointly by the Ministries of Tourism and Home Affairs on how the regulations would be amended to give effect to the President’s proposed changes to immigration and visa regulations to help stimulate the economy.
Instead, Home Affairs issued an obfuscated message that serves only to confuse travellers, much in the way it did when the regulation was first introduced three years ago.”
Issuing an international travel advisory only in October, after today’s vague statements that a UBC may be requested by immigration officials, simply reintroduces the confusion we fought many years to dispel, and undermines President Ramaphosa’s attempts to make it easier for foreign travellers to visit South Africa. Our position from the start has been that this draconian, heavy-handed and nonsensical policy to combat child trafficking has no place in the modern economy. Rather, it should be dealt with through proper policing. Semantic changes to the regulation are not the solution.
We believe the requirement to produce Unabridged Birth Certificates must be eliminated immediately across the board to ensure South Africa’s competitiveness as a tourism destination and remove any confusion around the requirements for foreign minors travelling to South Africa.”
Visas not required for more countries:
In a bid to boost tourism to the country, South Africa is finalising a number of visa waiver agreements with other countries, allowing travellers to enter the country without a visa.
Citizens from countries which will now no longer require a visa to travel to SA include Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Ghana, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Iran, Lebanon, the State of Palestine, Belarus, Georgia and Cuba.
Despite being part of the top 10 overseas tourism market, nationals from China and India still require visas to visit SA.
Review of Critical Skills required in South Africa:
To boost the country’s skill base consultations were being finalised with other government departments, academics, business and organised labour, to implement a review of critical skills by April 2019. This will be done with the purpose of attracting and retaining critically skilled labour in order to enhance economic development and enhance growth, employment and transformation.
In this category foreign students that graduate at South African institutes of higher learning within critical skills categories will be offered an opportunity to apply for permanent residence upon graduation.
Development of Biometric Technology:
Another development that Gigaba announced was that the government was finalising the development of new biometric movement control system that would be piloted at Cape Town and Lanseria international airports which is designed to bring greater efficiency in clearing of travellers arriving at the international airports.
The development of an E Visa is also on the cards. This is at an advanced stage and would be piloted in New Zealand by April 2019. The e-visa would “significantly enhance efficiency” in the issuing of visas to tourists and business people visiting South Africa.
Long Term Multiple
Long Term multiple entry visas would also be introduced for frequent travelers whether it be for purposes of tourism, business meetings or academic exchange. These visas include a three-year multiple entry visa for frequent travellers to South Africa and a 10-year long-term multiple entry visa for business people and academics from Africa.
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