SOUTH AFRICA – Proposed Legislative Changes on Immigration

March 21, 2024

By: Jonathan Fetting

On February 8, 2024, the Minister of the Department of Home Affairs of South Africa released a draft in the Government Gazette containing

The amendments codify certain changes already implemented by the Department, either through ministerial directives or in response to Constitutional Court judgments that found certain sections of the Immigration Act and regulations unconstitutional. This includes enabling spouses, children, and parents of South African citizens and permanent residents to change status from a visitor’s visa to another visa from within South Africa, which they were previously prohibited from doing.

The proposals include amending the legal definition of a police clearance certificate and requiring that the document only be necessary from countries where a foreign national has lived for 12 months or more after turning age 18 during the five years immediately preceding the visa or permanent residence application date. Currently the certificate is required from all countries in which the applicant resided for 12 months or more after turning 18.

The amendments also propose omitting the requirement to provide a radiological report, which is a report by a registered radiologist issued pursuant to a chest X-ray confirming that a foreign national has been examined and shows no signs of active pulmonary tuberculosis, in support of visa and permanent residence applications.

The amendments introduce a new and long-awaited remote worker visa option, which is undoubtedly a positive development. Foreign nationals who work remotely for a foreign employer and have annual earnings amounting to no less than R1 million can apply for a long-term visitor’s visa to enable them to work from South Africa, which may be valid for up to three years. If the visa duration exceeds six months within a 12-month period, the individual must register with the South African Revenue Service (SARS) for tax obligations. However, if the visa duration is six months or less within a 12-month period, tax registration is not required.

Less encouragingly, the proposed amendments introduce ambiguous provisions for points-based criteria—to be further determined by the Minister at a future date—for the adjudication of work visa applications. This will likely complicate matters and impede the issuance of them to much-needed, skilled foreign resources.

Finally, the amendments propose restricting the validity of certain visas issued to foreign nationals to 12 months in instances where they are required by law to register with a statutory professional body, council, or board and have applied but have not yet been registered. This will help ensure that foreign nationals ultimately acquire the necessary registration for their professions.

As always, don’t hesitate to reach out to your Newland Chase dedicated contact or submit an inquiry here should you have any specific questions regarding this announcement.

This immigration update is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for legal or scenario-specific advice. Furthermore, it is important to note that immigration announcements are subject to sudden and unexpected changes. Readers are encouraged to reach out to Newland Chase for any case- or company-specific assessments.