Pro-Link GLOBAL Immigration Dispatch: China, Ireland and South Africa

Discover key changes to immigration regulations in China, Ireland, and South Africa.

Cape Town, South Africa Immigration update

Featured Update

South Africa – consular posts beginning to request apostilles

Some South African Embassies, High Commissions, and Consulates abroad have begun requiring documents submitted in support of visa applications to be apostilled. South Africa has traditionally been considered to have one of the more convenient processes for intra-company transfers and short-term work assignments because of the fact that the work visa is applied for at the South African consular post in the foreign national’s home country without the need to first obtain pre-departure work and residence permit approvals. As a result of the exclusive consular approval process, supporting documentation requirements have been relatively liberal. In light of this new trend of requiring the documents to be apostilled, the process may now be lengthened by several weeks.While South Africa has been a member of The Hague Apostille Convention since 1995, it has not until just recently begun requiring documents submitted in its immigration process to be apostilled. The South African Immigration Act, and the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) regulations implemented thereunder, are not specific on the authentication requirements for documents submitted in support of visa applications. In previous practice, the DHA and overseas consular posts accepted original documents and copies of documents, which had been authenticated by the issuing authority, without requiring legalization or an Apostille.No official announcement has yet been made as to whether this is a formal change in policy and whether apostilled documents will be required for all cases in all consular posts. Therefore, employers and their foreign national employees working in South Africa should anticipate this potential additional step and begin the immigration process several weeks earlier to ensure that business plans are not interrupted in the event that apostilled documents are requested. 

Immigration Changes from Around the World

China – invitation letter requirements business visas changing

Immigration authorities processing applications for business (M) visas to the cities of Beijing and Shanghai appear to be loosening the standards for the required letters of invitation. Consulates have begun accepting letters issued by the private Chinese company inviting the foreign national rather than requiring the letter of invitation be issued by a governmental authority. This should result in shorter processing times for M visas for business travellers headed to China’s two largest cities, as they may now simply obtain their invitation letter from the sponsoring local company rather than wait for the company to request and receive the invitation letter from a government authority.The Beijing Municipal Commission of Commerce, the Pudong District Foreign Affairs Office, and the Shanghai Municipal Commission have all reportedly stopped issuing invitation letters. The Shanghai Foreign Affairs Office has said that it will continue to issue letters of invitation for applicants of some countries where the consular post is requiring it.The process and requirements for visas to China vary significantly depending on the region of China. Authorities for other regions are reportedly still following the practice of requiring the letters of invitation be issued by governmental bodies. Therefore, it is advisable that applicants seek the advice of experienced immigration advisors familiar with China’s unique process. Pro-Link GLOBAL continues to monitor the changes in immigration requirements throughout China from its Shanghai and Tianjin offices. 

Ireland – new online residence registration appointment system in Dublin

A new online scheduling system for residence registrations went live 8 September for Burgh Quay in the Dublin metropolitan area. The former process of ticketing for appointments through a queue ended 14 September. Non-European Union and non-European Economic Area foreign nationals arriving in Ireland who will be residing in Dublin City, Dublin County, and portions of adjoining counties must now go online and schedule their registration appointment. While the timeframe to register previously had been 90 days, the timeframe is now reportedly being shortened to 30 days by officials at the port of entry. Arriving foreign nationals are encouraged to check their specific registration deadline marked in their passports and schedule their registration appointment as soon after arriving as possible.The new appointment website offers appointments in one-hour time slots each day, allowing users to select a convenient time. Once the appointment is booked, users receive a confirmation email, which they are encouraged to bring to their appointment along the required documents specified in the email.This new system is a welcomed improvement for registering foreign nationals in Dublin. In 2015 the Burgh Quay office processed over 75,000 of the 115,000 foreign national registrations in Ireland. This heavy traffic had resulted in hours-long queues for appointments, making registration a stressful and time-consuming experience. This much-needed improvement is part of the transfer of the registration process from the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS).The new scheduling system had to be taken offline temporarily the day after its debut because of high user traffic. However, the INIS was able to quickly make necessary improvements to accommodate the high demand, and the system is now back online.Even with these improvements, foreign nationals in Dublin needing to register are encouraged to schedule their appointments as soon as possible upon arrival to avoid possible delays, especially during the peak season of October to January when the Burgh Quay office sees large numbers of university and college students registering. Foreign nationals outside the Dublin metropolitan area should continue to follow the already-existing ticketing and queue process in the INIS office for their region.

Reminders – recent and upcoming immigration implementations 

The following are reminders of recent or upcoming implementation dates that you should know:

  • 19 September, Brazil – the labour strike by workers in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs enters its fifth week. Significant backlogs and delays are occurring in the processing of work and residence authorizations and visas in numerous overseas Brazilian Embassies and Consulates. Some consulates have suspended visa services altogether, while Embassies and some consulates are continuing visa processing at diminished capacity. Expect significant delays. (See our Immigration Dispatch of 7 September for additional details)
  • 1-7 October, China – Golden Week will be celebrated as a national holiday throughout mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau. Private companies, public offices, government offices, and overseas consular posts will be closed, but will re-open again on the following Saturday and Sunday (8-9). Expect delays at all stages of the immigration process, both during and after. Also, expect travel within the country to be congested during this time.
  • 2 October, Saudi Arabia – new significantly higher visit visa fees and re-entry fees take effect. (See our Global Brief of 5 September for fee schedule and additional details)
  • 4 October, Israel – Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year) will be celebrated. Private companies, public offices, government offices, and overseas consular posts will be closed.

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Caveat Lector | Warning to Reader This is provided as informational only and does not substitute for actual legal advice based on the specific circumstances of a matter. Readers are reminded that Immigration laws are fluid and can change at a moment's notice without any warning. Please reach out to your local Pro-Link GLOBAL specialist should you require any additional clarification. This alert was prepared by Pro-Link GLOBAL's Counsel and Knowledge Management teams. We worked with our PLG | KGNM Ireland Office “Actus, Business Immigration LTD” and our PLG | KGNM South Africa Office “IBN Consulting (Pty) Ltd.” to provide you this update.Information contained in this Global Immigration Dispatch is prepared using information obtained from various media outlets, government publications and our KGNM immigration professionals. Written permission from the copyright owner and any other rights holders must be obtained for any reuse of any content posted or published by Pro-Link GLOBAL that extends beyond fair use or other statutory exemptions. Furthermore, responsibility for the determination of the copyright status and securing permission rests with those persons wishing to reuse the materials. Interested parties are welcome to contact the Knowledge Management Department (km@pro-linkglobal.com) with any additional requests for information or to request reproduction of this material.

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