The Department of Home Affairs has published its first directive for 2019, aiming to clamp down on foreigners working in the country on ‘business trip’ visas.
According to Marisa Jacobs, director at Xpatweb, the directive clarifies that Section 11(2) visas are not to be used continuously and are specifically to allow for ‘short term project resources in South Africa’.
“The issuing of this directive indicates a common misuse of the visa category by employers where they are making use of the relaxed nature of visa requirements of this category to bring resources into South Africa and then continuously extending or applying for new visas when they should, in fact, be pursuing a long term work visa,” she said.
“The directive now sets out clearly that the visa may only be applied for once in a calendar year and only extended once for a period not exceeding three months. The maximum period is thus six months.”
According to Jacobs, there is a broad misrepresentation by business travellers – especially those travelling from visa exempt countries – who enter South Africa on a holiday/business visa while in fact conducting work in South Africa.
“When an employee comes to render employment services in South Africa, make sure they get a valid short-term work visa,” she said.
“Do not take a chance and tell the immigration official this is only a business trip, when the purpose is work.
“It is easy to be compliant and not worth the risk. The process takes 5 – 10 working days and the short-term visa is issued for three months and may be extended in South Africa for a further three months.”
Consequences of working on a Business Visa
Where an expatriate is found on your premises conducting work without the necessary authorisation on their visa to conduct such work, the Immigration Act clearly sets out the implications for both the expatriate and the employer, said Jacobs.
This includes arrest and deportation for the foreign national and a fine and/or arrest for the employer depending on the offence, she said.
“The issuing of the above directive points to a more vigilant Department with their eye on individuals and businesses who do not comply with the conditions of their visas.
“This is a good time to ensure all employees are compliant and your organisation is in the green.”