New immigration regulations will help South African businesses

On 1 December 2018, the first amendment of the 2014 Immigration Regulations came into effect.

Tracy Robbins, an associate at Baker Mckenzie, noted that while the regulation appears principally to correct administrative errors, it also provides to general work visa applications.

Under the previous system, South African businesses were placed at a disadvantage when hiring overseas employees as they spent time and money waiting for governmental approval.

“The old Regulation 18 required the Department of Labour (DoL) to inform the Department of Home Affairs about the outcome of a visa recommendation by way of issuing a certificate,” said Robbins.

“The prospective employer and applicant would only know the outcome of the DoL’s recommendation when the results of the visa application were received.”

Following the first amendment, the DoL must now issue a letter to the prospective employer and a certificate to the DoL providing its recommendation.

Both the certificate and letter must set out the following in the case of a positive recommendation:

  • Despite a diligent search, the prospective employer has been unable to find a suitable citizen or permanent resident with qualifications or skills and experience equivalent to those of the applicant;
  • The applicant has qualifications or proven skills and experience in line with the job offer;
  • The salary and benefits of the applicant are not inferior to the average salary and benefits of citizens or permanent residents occupying similar positions in the Republic; and
  • The contract of employment stipulating the conditions of employment, signed by both the employer and the applicant, is in line with the labour standards in the Republic and is issued on condition that the general work visa is approved.

The additional requirement for the DoL to issue the recommendation letter to the prospective employer, as opposed to simply issuing a certificate to the DoL alone, is a positive change for employers and applicants alike, said Robbins.

“This allows the prospective employer to know the outcome of the Department of Labour’s recommendation before the applicant applies for a work visa. This will ultimately save time and costs when a negative recommendation is received.”

This amendment is similarly reflected in Regulation 20 of the Immigration Regulations, governing corporate visas.

“Regulation 20 now requires a letter, as above, to be issued to the corporate employer, again benefitting the corporate in that the DoL’s recommendation will be received before time and money is spent on a corporate visa application,” Robbins said.

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New immigration regulations will help South African businesses