South Africa: government approves migration White Paper

A new White Paper aims to maximise the benefits of a well-managed international migration programme while minimising the risks. Permits Foundation continues to monitor the developments.

South Africa: government approves migration White Paper
The South African government approved a progressive vision for its migration policy in a White Paper on international migration at a cabinet meeting on 29 March. The policy framework will guide the country’s comprehensive review of immigration legislation.It follows a Green Paper published by the former minister of Home Affairs, MKN Gigaba, in 2016. The White Paper will be discussed in parliament in the course of 2017, exact timeline not yet announced, after which it is likely to be finalised with several amendments.

Cabinet position

The current White Paper aims to maximise the economic and social benefits of well-managed international migration while minimising the risks. According to the Cabinet statement, international migration should be embraced while guarding sovereignty, peace and security.The White Paper contends that it is neither desirable nor possible to stop or slow migration and that it is beneficial if managed efficiently, securely and with respect for human rights.Eight policy areas are identified for change: admissions and departures: residency and naturalisation; skills and capital; ties with South Africans abroad; the African context; asylum and refugees; integration; and enforcement.

Fast-track long term visa for high-value migrants and their family members

The proposed policy aims to attract and retain high-value migrants with the necessary skills, investment and business interests, via a points-based system, by granting them a long-term visa that will allow easy access to citizenship.According to the White Paper, “This must be a special visa that could be fast-tracked and must enable the applicant and the immediate family to apply as one unit. The family members (1st step of kinship) must be able to work and study using the long-term residence visa without the need to apply for other appropriate visas as currently required”.

Intra-Company Transfer Visa

The Department of Home Affairs (DHA), when defining the eligibility more closely, is urged to include those who are covered by the current intra-company transfer visa.This is important because many people tend to use the current intra-company visa, rather than the critical skills visa because of the administrative burden associated with the latter. In terms of relevant skills and benefit to the country, there is a large overlap between the type of people who are assigned or relocate to South Africa on these visas. The only significant difference is the employment relationship and there is minimal difference in skills possessed and value delivered to South Africa.  The next step of draft legislation is unlikely before mid 2018, in the current political context, the discussions in parliament and following a cabinet reshuffle in which Mr Gigaba became minister of Finance and a new minister of Home Affairs, professor Hlengiwe Buhle Mkhize, was appointed.
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Next steps – follow up meetings in South Africa

Permits Foundation will monitor the further implementation of the draft White Paper and have also offered to help in gathering further information, hoping to have a meeting with the DHA in Pretoria and a round table meeting in Johannesburg to consult and update sponsors and others interested.If you have expatriate staff working in South Africa, please let Permits Foundation know whether your local representative would be interested to attend.Given the importance of the White Paper both for South Africa and as an example to other countries in the African region, the topic will be addressed in the Permits Foundation next biennial conference on 12 October in London.This information was provided by Permits Foundation, the not-for-profit organisation campaigning globally to improve work permit regulations.For related news and features, visit our Immigration section.Access hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory  Get access to our free Global Mobility Toolkit Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centre