• Policy Paper Published on Changes to Immigration System
  • August 3, 2016
  • Law Firm: Fragomen Del Rey Bernsen Loewy LLP - New York Office
  • The South African government has presented for public comment a policy paper that proposes changes to the immigration system. The paper suggests reviewing the country’s overall immigration strategy by considering changes in politics, the economy, social development, national security, international and constitutional obligations and the overall increase in immigration.

    Key Policies Discussed in Policy Paper

    The policy paper discusses the following key proposals:
    • Management of admissions and departures: Addressing gaps that compromise secure and efficient migration and establishing a border management authority, redesignated entry ports and new pre-clearance procedures;
    • Management of residency and naturalization: Expanding the eligibility criteria for citizenship and permanent residence, such as adding contributions to society and economy as a factor;
    • Management of international migrants with skills and capital: Promoting and attracting skilled workers who contribute to the country’s growth and competitiveness by retaining foreign students that study in South Africa and creating a points-based work visa system;
    • Management of ties with the South African diaspora: Retaining connections with skilled workers leaving South Africa;
    • Management of international migration within the African context: Improving regional bodies in Africa to promote trade, travel and employment;
    • Admission of asylum seekers: Acknowledging that the influx of economic asylum seekers affects the country’s ability to focus on other refugees; and
    • Management of the integration process for international migrants: Creating a clear integration policy for foreign nationals.

    The last shift in immigration policy took place in 2002 when the Immigration Act was implemented, and in May 2014 when the immigration system underwent changes that substantially changed the immigration landscape.

    Any suggested policies would not become law until multiple legal stages are completed, and the earliest any changes could become law would be in approximately 18-24 months.

    What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals

    Employers and foreign nationals should monitor legal developments and those interested in submitting comments to the policy paper can do so by September 30, 2016.