NOTE: Article first appeared in the Citizen newspaper on June 6, 2014.
The newly implemented immigration regulations have split up families, as mothers and fathers overseas are now classified as undesirable and banned from South Africa.
In a statement, incoming Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said the new immigration regulations, implemented on May 26, are an effort to “strengthen security” and avoid the abuses possible under previous immigration laws.
“People are now stranded abroad and banned from entry into the country,” said Stuart James, owner of Intergate Immigration. The new regulations removed “directive 43″, which used to let spouses and other family members renew permits in under 30 days. Now this renewal process will take between 60 days and six months, leaving greater chances for overstay while people are out of the country for a period of time.
Those caught in this transition will be banned for between one to five years, said James. Urgent interdicts could be used by those “stuck” abroad, but “this could drag on for months”.
“An awful lot of lawsuits are on the way,” he said.
Julian Pokroy, chairperson of the Immigration Law Specialist Committee of the Law Society of South Africa, explained people will be classified as “undesirable” once their visas have expired.
Pokroy said there are some positive changes but also some “practical negatives”. The new critical skills visa which replaced work permits only allows entry to those skilled in particular professions. But “no one qualifies at the moment because no list has been gazetted”, said Pokroy.
James said the regulations had been implemented hastily. “It was signed in on Naledi Pandor’s last day in office.”
James attributed this to the lack of clarity on many issues. Pokroy said the regulations make it difficult for skilled foreigners and investors to gain entry to the country