‘Immigration rules will not be changed’

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Independent Newspapers

Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has published a list of 169 occupations which are classified as critical skills in 11 economic sectors. Photo: Etienne Creux

 

Johannesburg - The Department of Home Affairs will not change certain points in the new immigration regulations but will deal with problems raised since their implementation, minister Malusi Gigaba said on Monday.

“We are willing to engage with anybody who has concerns about the implementation,” he said.

“There are things in the immigration legislation which cannot be up for discussion. I think we need to remember... nothing is in the regulations which has not been raised in legislation.”

He said there had been enough time to raise concerns about the new regulations before they were passed into law.

Gigaba opened the Johannesburg Visa Facilitation Centre in Rivonia on Monday.

The immigration regulations, which came into effect in May, introduce a new visa regime for South Africa. It outlines a clear distinction between short-stay visas and long-stay permanent residence permits.

It also stipulates that visa applications need to be made by applicants in person, and those wanting to change the status of their visa can no longer do so in South Africa but have to do so at missions abroad.

Gigaba said the department was aware of problems which included lack of internet access and people who were not in possession of their original birth certificates.

“We are ready to discuss the implementation and how to deal with the challenges experienced,” he said.

He said the tourism department, the immigration officers and immigration practitioners had gone to his department and raised issues.

However, Gigaba said the department would not “compromise” on security and international obligations.

“We need to know who is visiting so we can protect our country.”

In June he announced that VFS Global, a worldwide outsourcing and technology services specialist for diplomatic missions and governments, had been appointed to receive and manage visa and permit applications in South Africa.

Eleven centres have been opened countrywide - in Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Durban, George, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Kimberley, Nelspruit, Polokwane, Rustenburg and Port Elisabeth.

On Monday, Gigaba took a walk around the centre and spoke to employees.

VFS general manager of operations in Southern Africa, Rishen Mahabeer, accompanied Gigaba and answered questions the minister had before the media briefing. - Sapa


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