Another visa mess for South Africa

 ·9 May 2024

The City of Cape Town has slammed the Department of Home Affairs for creating confusion and continuing to score “infuriating” own goals in launching remote work visas in the country.

Mayoral committee member for economic growth, James Vos, said that the last month has seen the department shoot itself in the foot with the premature gazetting—and subsequent withdrawal—of regulations that would create this category of visa.

“On 28 March, the DHA published the amended immigration regulations. This, however, was a day before the closing date of the public comment period. And then, on 12 April, the minister issued a notice withdrawing the 28 March amendments,” Vos said.

Among other things, the regulations replaced the highly-contested critical skills list with a new points-based system and introduced the remote work visa class. At the time of the withdrawal, the minister said that the regulations would be revised within a week, but has since fallen silent.

“South Africa’s visa system is already infamously a mess and this latest bungle only serves as a reminder of the murk. The hundreds of thousands of employees working in the tourism industry, not to mention those in need of jobs, can ill afford yet more chaos caused by the department.”

Vos said that the tourism industry and businesses need urgent clarity on the status of the remote-worker visas. The delays could cost the country millions of rands of additional tourist spend.

“Businesses in countless more industries are equally frustrated as the skilled staff they need are unable to get into the country due to unprocessed visas,” he said.

The MEC said that businesses in industries like business process outsourcing have complained about the current visa system hindering expansion and skills transfer, while others have flagged challenges acquiring visas for delegates, forcing the relocation of conferences and events to other parts of Africa.

Vos urged the department to provide a detailed plan to address the crisis of the visa system and adhere to that plan.

Cape Town has been a major proponent of the remote-work visa, saying that it is in a prime position to benefit economically.

“A fully functioning visa system would be a boon to our country’s economy, driving investments and jobs for millions of desperate South Africans. I urge President Cyril Ramaphosa to exert pressure on the department to get this done,” he said.

Read: South Africa’s massive visa backlog hits over 92,000 – these are the biggest culprits

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