General Immigration Developments & Legislative Changes
The current immigration laws were implemented with the Immigration Amendment Act and renewed Immigration Regulations in July 2005.
The amendments brought about some positive changes and clarifications and made the immigration laws more user-friendly. Some requirements for work permits were abolished, but on the other hand new ones were introduced and exemptions were removed, and the financial requirements for retirees were structured more logically. However, the law also contains some elements which prejudice applicants and, in our opinion, also work against the country’s goals of attracting foreign investment and promoting sustainable growth. Especially in the practical implementation of the amended legislation substantial problems and weaknesses have emerged.
Important changes that had been implemented after much debate and with enormous effort in 2003 were partly reversed, and in many ways the status quo of the previous system was restored. In some areas (in the case of the business permits for instance) the requirements are now even stricter than before 2003. The Department was given back much of the discretion that had purposefully been transferred to other parties in 2003, the review and appeal procedures were significantly shortened, and the express obligation for the Department to endeavour to process all applications within 30 days from submission was removed again.
The legislative changes unfortunately lacked a clear direction and vision, and it appears that the importance of immigration law in all its details for South Africa’s development and growth was being underestimated. Instead of attracting investors many changes have caused confusion and bewilderment and have therefore failed to meet one of the Minister’s prime goals.
The latest Immigration Amendment Bill was halted at the National Council of Provinces in late 2006 and appears to be under review until further notice.
Additional amendments are allegedly planned and the Department’s internal consultation process is said to be still ongoing. Further to this, substantive changes to the Immigration Regulations are said to be in the pipeline, but no details have been made public.
Submission of Application
Generally, an application may be submitted at the South African mission in the applicant’s country of origin or normal residence. Depending on the respective mission’s authority, the application can be processed and finalised there or needs to be referred to the Department of Home Affairs’ Head Office in Pretoria, South Africa.
Alternatively, a foreigner who is already in South Africa can submit to the nearest office of the Department an application for extension of his/her permit or for a change of status, for instance from the status of visitor to that of worker, student, retiree or business owner.
Entering the country as a tourist and applying for the appropriate permit from here is only possible under certain conditions, and the application may be rejected if the impression is created that the foreigner entered the country with the intention to change his/her status here.
Deposit / Return Flight Ticket
Most applications for temporary residence are to be accompanied by a deposit to the value of a return air ticket to the applicant’s country of origin or usual residence. This deposit is intended to cover the costs of a deportation should the foreigner at any point in time become illegal and have to be deported. The deposit can in some categories be replaced by showing the actual return air ticket covering the period of the intended stay or, in the case of a work permit, by the prospective employer’s written undertaking to cover any costs incurred for the applicant’s repatriation to his/her country of origin.
Almost all temporary permits can be extended from within South Africa. It is to be noted that all applications for extension or for change of status are to be submitted at least 30 days before the expiry of the current permit. Applications submitted after such date can be rejected if good cause for the late submission cannot be sufficiently shown.
Customs & Imports
1. Permanent residence holders may on their first entry into the country import their household goods and personal belongings free of charge. Furthermore, they may import a vehicle subject to the following conditions:
(a) ownership of the vehicle over at least 1 year prior to import
(b) vehicle may not be sold or transferred within 2 years after entry;
(c) no left-hand steered vehicle registered or purchased after 1 January 2000 may be brought into South Africa.
2. Persons awaiting their permanent residence permit may make a provisional payment to the amount of +/- 50% of the resale value of the household goods. In the case of a 20 ft. container the payment would amount to +/- R15,000, in that of a 40 ft. container a payment of +/- R30,000 would be required. The provisional payment will be refunded upon receipt of permanent residence.
3. Persons in possession of a temporary residence permit (i.e. work, business or retired persons permit) may also make the provisional payment mentioned under point 2. Since the provisional payment needs to be renewed more or less every 6 months, this option will only be viable if a permanent residence permit is likely to be issued or applied for in the foreseeable future. Importing a vehicle in this case is possible against payment of a deposit of +/- 105% of the vehicle’s value, which deposit is refunded once the vehicle is exported again.
4. If none of the mentioned permits or applications are available, the goods will be taxed with value added tax as well as the usual import duty of between 25 and 45% of the respective value.
The larger South African medical aid providers offer similar services to their European counterparts and usually at a lower cost. In South Africa there is no public medical aid insurance and no legal obligation for an employee to be registered with a medical aid scheme.
By law South African medical aid providers are obliged to accept all applicants who are willing and able to pay their fees. However, costs for existing conditions may be excluded from cover for a period of up to 1 year. Often a general waiting period of 3 months is applied. Furthermore foreigners may be charged certain additional fees.
Similar to their European counterparts, South African medical aid providers offer various insurance schemes providing varying types and degrees of cover. Having registered with a medical aid scheme, the specific healthcare providers (hospitals, medical practitioners etc.) may generally be chosen freely. Most schemes provide cover during international travels for up to 90 days.
There is no legal obligation on the side of a South African employer to cover all or part of the medical aid payments, so any such payments are within the discretion of the employer and can be negotiated with them. Many employers cover half of their employees’ monthly payments.
For more information, please see:
Schooling / Education
3. South African College School (SACS)
Address: S A College High School, Private Bag, Newlands, 7725
Phone: +27 (0) 21 689 4164
Fax: +27 (0) 21 685 2669
5. Westerford High School
Address: Main Road, Rondebosch, Cape Town, 7700
Phone: +27 (0) 21 689 9154
Fax: +27 (0) 21 685 5675
6. Rondebosch Boys High
7. Bishops School
Address 65 Camp Ground Rd, Rondebosch
Phone: +27 (0) 21 689 5708
8. International School of Cape Town
Address Postal: Private Bag 14 , Hout Bay
Address Physical: 161 Main Road, Rondebosch
Phone +27 (0) 21 686 2589