Big visa boost for critical skills in South Africa

 ·9 Feb 2024

The Department of Home Affairs is making significant progress in the Trusted Employer Scheme (TES), which should help businesses acquire international workers to address their skill shortages.

South Africa has been working to review its visa application system to make it easier for foreigners to work in the country, as businesses flag long delays and complex application processes for foreign workers in getting visas.

International workers are seen as a short- and medium-term solution to the current skills shortage that many corporations in South Africa face, with skilled workers – especially those with STEM and IT skills – often heading in the other direction.

To address this, the DHA announced the TES pilot last October, aimed at allowing South African companies to attract skills and manage immigration, especially in processing applications for senior executives, technical personnel, corporate employees and investors.

In the latest development, the DHA has said that roughly 108 major corporations pursued trusted employer status, with 65 earning approval and poised for imminent implementation in the coming week.

The approval follows a rigorous evaluation process by the DHA’s Corporate Accounts Unit.

Marisa Jacobs, Managing Director of Xpatweb, Phindiwe Mbhele, Director of Corporate Accounts at the DHA, said the issuance of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) for approved employers is expected in the coming days.

The Director General is expected to counter-sign as soon as possible, facilitating immediate application under the new dispensation.

Jacobs said that the TES is expected to be the most successful initiative by the DHA if it gets the traction that it promises.

Key highlights from the scheme, as noted by Jacobs, include:

  • Proactive steps are being taken, including the consideration of waivers, to accelerate processing and ensure a seamless transition for approved candidates.

  • A firm stance is maintained on compliance, with any deviation from prescribed standards risking severe penalties, leading to the revocation of Trusted Employer Status.

  • An appeal process is in place for declined applicants, offering an opportunity for reconsideration.

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