Cape Town - The ANC has raised concerns in the legislature about the “remote working visa” suggestion the Western Cape government is lobbying the national government for.
The party fears that it will allow foreigners to come to the Western Cape and take South African jobs.
During the State of the Nation address (Sona), President Cyril Ramaphosa said that following submissions made by the Western Cape, the national government was considering the introduction of a “remote working visa”.
The issue of the visa came up during a briefing to the standing committee on finance, economic opportunities and tourism by the provincial Department of Economic Development and Tourism (Dedat) and Wesgro on Friday.
Committee member Nomi Nkondlo (ANC) wanted to know what assurances South Africans, particularly in the Western Cape where the plan has been mooted, would have that foreign nationals coming in on such visas did not present a security risk and were not taking jobs from South Africans.
The provincial department’s economic sector support chief director, Ilse van Schalkwyk, said the Immigration Act had regulations which catered for different categories of purpose of travel.
She said there was very little differentiation between a business visa and the purpose of travel but that to get the idea off the ground would require amendments to the current Immigration Act and its regulations.
“What we are proposing is that it is firstly for semi-skilled and skilled individuals because what we are trying to encourage is that individuals have to show proof of accommodation, employment and a minimum one year contract.”
She said that people coming into the country on a remote working visa cannot be employed by a South African company.
They must also enter the country with an existing work contract from whichever country they are coming from.
She said that as a minimum criteria to apply for the visa, foreigners would have to show proof of minimum income, have health documentation and travel insurance.
“They apply for a year and they can renew for an additional year and that’s the limit.”
Committee chairperson Deidré Baartman (DA) said the Province has been calling for the introduction of a remote work visa to attract international tourists while also stimulating the regional economy since May last year.
“Unfortunately, the snail’s pace of the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has further added to the struggles that the industry faces.
“We welcome the announcement that the DHA has agreed to look into the introduction of this international best practice but we hope to see the review by the DHA prioritised and streamlined to make this a reality.”
Wesgro has meanwhile launched a remote work portal on its website that aims to assist with all logistical requirements for any potential tourists.
Wesgro chief executive Wrenelle Stander said the objective was to entice people from around the country to visit the Western Cape as remote workers.