Overstay and face ban, warns Home Affairs

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REUTERS

The implementation of new biometric visa requirements for foreigners was already proving a serious obstacle for people wanting to visit the country.

Johannesburg - Foreigners could face being excluded from South Africa for two and 10 years if they try to travel here without a valid visa due to the withdrawal of directive 43 of 2010.

Directive 43 allowed non-South African citizens to travel in and outside of South Africa on presentation of an original receipt for the application of a visa.

Minister of Home Affairs Naledi Pandor removed directive 43 of 2010 from the Immigration Regulations as of April 1 this year.

“I have no idea why they have done this. Home Affairs has a reputation for taking so long,” said Tarryn Pokroy Rietveld, attorney at Julian Pokroy Attorneys.

Rietveld said the withdrawal came in the light of amendments drafted in the Draft Immigration Regulations, 2014, published in the Government Gazette on February 14.

Section 27 of the draft regulations states that any foreign person who remains in the country after the expiration of his or her visa faces being declared an undesirable and excluded from the country. “Previously, people who overstayed were fined a maximum sum of about R3 000,” Rietveld said.

Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh stated that Lawyers for Human Rights had submitted comments on the draft regulations, but had not received a response.

“They were very clear that they (the regulations) would be reviewed and passed by April 1,” said Ramjathan-Keogh, noting that she had seen no evidence of a public process other than the draft issued in the Government Gazette.

“The problem with the new legislation is that Home Affairs cannot guarantee that the visas will be issued in time.” Dr Paul Semugoma, a Ugandan doctor detained at OR Tambo International Airport in February, allegedly due to an expired visa, blamed the lengthy immigration process. “It took two years for me to receive my special-skills visa,” he said.

He was detained after returning to South Africa from Zimbabwe, but was allowed to remain. Ugandan officials had demanded he be deported as he is facing charges in his home country for his anti-homophobic stance on Uganda’s anti-homosexuality laws.

Overstaying a visa by 30 days will, according to the draft regulations, result in foreigners being declared undesirable for two years; 60 days would result in a three-year ban; and 90 days in a 10-year exclusion from the country. - The Star

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