May 20, 2024

Statement by the Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi at the media briefing on The Second Amendment of the Immigration Regulations, 2014

Programme Director

Director-General Tommy Makhode

Acting Deputy Director-General of Immigration Services, Mr Modiri Matthews

Members of the media,

Good afternoon,

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for attending the media briefing on the Second Amendment of the Immigration Regulation, 2014.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced in the 2022 State of the Nation Address that South Africa will be reviewing its visa regime to make it easier for foreigners to travel to the country for tourism, business and work.

The President appointed the former Director-General in the Department of Home Affairs, Mr Mavuso Msimang, to lead Operation Vulindlela that is aimed at reviewing the work visa system to attract the much-needed skills. This was to enable economic growth and improve efficiency in the issuing of permits and visas.

The Vulindlela report made eight recommendations broken down into distinct categories, namely four process recommendations and four policy recommendations.

On 8 February 2024 the draft Immigration Regulations were published for public comment with a closing date of 29 March 2024. The key areas covering the four policy recommendations in the Regulations are:-

the introduction of the remote work visa,
the introduction of the point-based system for general work visas as contemplated in section 19(2) of the Act. I am aware that in the Regulations it says only section 19, but I wish to clarify that this specifically refers to section 19(2) of the Act. This will be made clear in the Regulations.
introduction of the Trusted Employer Scheme, and
the frequent updating of the Critical Skills List which hitherto were updated only every four years.

On the other hand, the key areas covering the four process recommendations are:

to streamline documentation required for applications; these are the removal of the requirement to submit a radiology report and the review of period of submitting a police clearance certificate,
modernizing IT systems
expanding capacity in the Immigration Branch and
updating employment services database in the Department of Employment and Labour

Ladies and gentlemen, I called this press conference to explain the confusion and misunderstanding of the gazetted regulations which appeared in several media houses. One such glaring misunderstanding which appeared repeatedly in the media is that we have done away with the Critical Skills Visa in favour of a point-based system. But in order to clarify, one needs to go back to the situation before the changes.

The Critical Skills List

The Critical Skills Visa is appearing in section 19(4) of the Immigration Act. This is what the section states: “subject to any prescribed requirement, a critical skills work visa may be issued by the Director-General to an individual possessing such skills or qualifications determined to be critical for the Republic from time to time by the Minister by notice in the gazette…”

As stated in the Act, critical skills are not necessarily referring to important skills or prestigious skills. Critical skills means skills that are solely needed in the Republic for economic development but where there is a dire shortage of such skills within the Republic with a result that we need to look beynd the borders of the country.

Previously the frequency of gazetting demanded by the Act was decided as fours years. The new thing in the amended Regulations is that we have changed the frequency from four years to when it is necessary or when the need arises.

In 2023, the List was updated two times. The first was in February with reference to the doctors, and the second was in September on the veterinary services.

General Work Visa

The General Work Visa appears in section 19(2) of the Act and it states that: “A General Work Visa may be issued by the Director-General to a foreigner not falling within the category contemplated in sub-section 4 and who complies with prescribed requirements”. Sub-section 4 is the one dealing with critical skills. This means General Work is anything that is not covered in the critical skills list.

The prescribed requirements mentioned in the Act are found in regulation 18 (3) of the previous regulation before the amendments.

It states that “an application for a general work visa shall be accompanied by: (a) Letter issued by the prospective employer, by the department of Employment and Labour to the effect that a certificate has been issued to the department confirming that: (i) Despite a diligence search, the prospective employer has been unable to find a suitable citizen or permanent resident with qualifications or skills and experience equivalent to those of the applicant.

The rest of the requirements are not important for this press conference.

Ladies and gentlemen, as you are aware the requirements had not been met in the hospitality industry, domestic work, agriculture and other menial work. The change we are bringing in these amendments is to do away with the requirement of having to go to the Department of Employment and Labour and replace it with a a point-based system. The point-based system will consider at least six criteria:

Language skills
Work experience
Offer of employment; and
The ability to adapt within the Republic;

We are considering to replace number (f) with income or salary the individual is being offered.

Unfortunately, we cannot expand more on the point-based system because it still needs to be gazetted as we want to hear what the public will say about the scoring or points awarded.

The totally new additions

Remote Work Visa.

The remote Work Visa is for people who are employed in other countries but want to perform that work remotely while staying in South Africa. This will be people in IT, auditing, finance, and any other job which allows you to work remotely. But the catch hear is that none of them must earn an equivalent of less than R1 million. The offer given to themis that they do not have to pay tax for employment of six months.

Trusted Employer Scheme

The introduction of the Trusted Employer Scheme for qualifyingcompanies is a means to provide a flexible pathway for employers to obtain work visas expeditiously in line with best practices. In this, the responsibility of collecting documents locally and globally is given to the prospective employer with the proviso that when a random check is done an employer will not be found to have committed misrepresentation.

This will enable the visa to be finalized within 20 days whereas before this scheme it was eight weeks. The TES became active from 1 March 2024. Out of the 108 companies that applied 70 were successful and are currently part of the Scheme. The criteria for participating in the Trusted Employer Scheme are the following:

You have to invest R100 million or more and this investment must be proven.
Have 100 or more employees, with 60% of them being South Africans.
Priority is given to these sectors: energy (especially power generation) and infrastructure.
Skills transfer or graduate development programme for those who are South Africans.
BEE credentials which must be provided by the Department of Employment and Labour.

In conclusion, all the other areas did not seem to cause confusion but we need to correct those that have and are causing confusion.

Thank you,