Business Maverick


Comedy of errors: Motsoaledi’s ‘ill-advised’ visa rules withdrawn

Comedy of errors: Motsoaledi’s ‘ill-advised’ visa rules withdrawn
Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi answers questions about xenophobic violence during a parliamentary session on 22 October 2019. (Photo: Leila Dougan)

Days after the amendments of the immigration regulations were published, allowing for a digital nomad visa and a points system for foreigners with critical skills, the Home Affairs minister caved in to pressure from Nedlac to factor in public comments. He insists the changes are minor.

The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has been forced to withdraw its latest visa rules which came under heavy criticism on several fronts — not least because it promulgated the Second Amendment of the Immigration Regulations a day before the closing date for public comments on the draft version and became effective on 28 March, which is a constitutional requirement.

The new regulations allowed for a “remote work visa”, also known as a digital nomad visa, and finally introduced a new points system for foreigners with “critical skills”, which requires highly skilled international workers to have “the ability to adapt within the republic”.

Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi admitted at a media briefing in Pretoria on Tuesday that the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) had questioned the gazetting of the regulations, because it had curtailed the process, saying it was “ill-advised”.

“We do agree with Nedlac and I personally was ill-advised to allow that to happen,” said Motsoaledi.

However, he says only minor issues will be corrected.

This would be the second official correction to the document: the first was on 2 April when he had to correct the date of his signature to 2024, not 2023.

Motsoaledi also claimed in the regulations gazetted on 28 March that he was publishing the amendments after consultation with the Immigration Advisory Board — which does not yet exist.

On 3 July 2023, in an answer in Parliament, he admitted that he had not appointed the Immigration Board in terms of sections 4 and 5 of the Immigration Act because the DHA was developing a new immigration, refugee protection and citizenship policy framework “which is en route to Cabinet”. 

As yet, that framework has not been processed.

More confusion

The equivocation is likely to cause even more confusion in the market in the wake of another of Motsoaledi’s “ill-advised” moves — the 21 December directive instructing foreigners without a visa renewal to leave South Africa by the end of February.

This resulted in visitors cutting short their holidays in fear of being banned. Some people were banned from SA, despite Motsoaledi’s repeated claims that possession of a visa renewal receipt would be sufficient to prevent such action.

Earlier this week, Daily Maverick reported that the new regulations would require applicants for the digital nomad visa to jump through hoops and that if they stayed in the country for longer than six months, they’d have to register with the SA Revenue Service.

Some have raised concerns that these requirements do not make the visa internationally competitive.

The regulations provide for new remote work visas and for a new points system designed to provide a more flexible pathway for highly qualified and experienced foreigners to work in SA.

Business Day has reported that Nedlac last week asked the department to withdraw the regulations, pending revisions to take account of comments from the public.

Motsoaledi said he would re-gazette the regulations next week.

He said the new points system replaces the general work visa system, but not the critical skills visas, which will now be updated as and when proven shortages occur.

“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 point-based system. The point-based system will consider at least six criteria: Age, qualifications, language skills, work experience, offer of employment and the ability to adapt within the republic.

“We are considering replacing (ability to adapt within the republic) 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.”

Motsoaledi said although it had been reported “many times” that the country was missing critical skills because the DHA took so long to process applications, that was not the case.

“We don’t have a backlog on critical skills… It is easy to get the critical skills visa.”

He said that if it was listed in the gazette, the applicant provided a letter of appointment from the company and there was no delay. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    The ANC changes rules in a pathetic attempt to hide the fact that it is unable to implement anything at all, for anyone, ever.

    The simple truth: Our rules work. The ANC doesn’t.

    So rather than changing the rules, let’s change government.

    Vote DA.

  • Graham Elgey says:

    “Some people were banned from SA” as a result of the 21 December Directive! We came through Joburg on the way to the UK on Sunday ( 7th April). My partner had the Visa Renewal Renewal Receipt in her passport. She has been Banned from SA for 5 years for the second year running. The DHA official said that he was only doing “what his bosses had told him to do” and that he was ” very busy every day” issuing bans. Perhaps the Minister should try going through Passport Control in Joburg himself and see what actually happens. Meanwhile we have to waste hours and hours going through the Appeals process again!

  • Donald bemax says:

    Frankly ….he cant run a p$#@ up in a brewery..

  • Walter Spatula says:

    It is not easy to get the critical skills visa.

  • Jennifer D says:

    I thought age discrimination was against our constitutional rights. In South Africa, if you are old, white or disabled, you are persona non grata and nothing is done for you.

    • Frank Lee says:

      Your point regarding age discrimination is well-taken Jennifer, but if you look you will see that age often factors as part of the scoring for immigration visas globally. What makes the use of age illogical in this case is not its use (for age is taken as a proxy of the financial strain that an incumbent might place on the state), but that this is not an immigration application. So I would fully agree that for general work (or specialised/critical skills) visas age should not be a factor. You should lodge your public comment if you feel strongly about it.

  • Geoff Holmes says:

    The same incompetent who initiated an unworkable and unfunded NHI proposal.

  • Middle aged Mike says:

    It would be a comedy of errors if there was a hint of humour in it but its just another tragic train crash movie rerun from the ANC studio. The opportunity cost to the economy of this kind of muppetry is incalculable.

  • Richard Owen says:

    It is not easy to get a critical skills visa.

  • Jimbo Smith says:

    Classic bumbling by a hopelessly incompetent Minister and his minions. Tragically, the impact on tourism and the economy is huge for a country that desperately needs international visitors to boost a smashed economy. Never mind; more denial, more bumbling, more stuff ups and there is ZERO consequence. All the while Squirrel will sit in his little castle on his hands and say and do NOTHING!

  • Phillip Kudzai Huni says:

    It is quite clear the minister needs to fire whoever is in charge of preparing his documents. Ideally, from a Quality Management perspective, a document that goes under the public glare and scrutiny would need at least 3 people to ensure its up to scratch. The ORIGINATOR, the CHECKER and the APPROVER. We cannot have a situation where the Minister has to proof read documents before he delivers them for public consumption. This is diagraceful.

  • Rae Earl says:

    Imagine if this ANC mob gets the NHI up an running. It will be handled in the same way as Home Affairs, ie. No planning, no direction, useless cadre deployment of people as incompetent as Motsoaledi. If the ANC stays in power SA will be in dire straits. We’re losing our friends in the EU, UK, and US while Russia, Iran and others are licking their lips at the thought of plundering our natural resources.

  • PETER BAKER says:

    Just another example of the absolute and utter incompetence and ineptitude of this cANCer we have hanging around our necks. The ANC has over the last two decades gone out of its way to run our country…it’s our country and not theirs into the sewer. They are only interested in clinging to power for the sake of power. Their policy is to just switch faces of cabinet ministers after they have f***ed one department to another which they proceed to further ruin. Decades of this compounded stupidity (as a wise sage once wrote …”there is no excuse for stupidity”…) has resulted in state failure, because the cANCer has been around for just too long. Past its sell by date. The time has come for the electorate to vote them out and I would suggest as Fanie Ngabiso has written …..Just Vote DA…. and if they don’t produce the changes, we the people want …then we can vote them out as well.

    • michael bridgens says:

      Sorry Peter but the use of the ANC Caps inside the word “cancer” is also past its sell by date. Time for something more oriGINal please.

  • Katharine Ambrose says:

    Sounds like a schoolboy in denial. I think he uses the term ill-advised literally as in ” its not me its my advisors.”
    He really has been a disaster in every ministry he has been in and relies on tears and obfuscation when confronted.
    He has cost us lives in Health and massive revenue and the friendship of many visitors. He’s also the one who has failed to deal with the porous border to the north , corruption at Home affairs, and on and on.

  • William Dryden says:

    Obviously Motsoaledi hasn’t got any of the missing skills needed in South Africa, so why is he in the position he is in.

  • Beyond Fedup says:

    All so predictable! When you have bumbling and incompetent idiots like Motsoaledi and co running this country, who are just there because they belong to the rotten ruling party, where loyalty, above, all matters. Cadres, elite and the connected! It’s no wonder our beloved country is such a shambles, a wasteland and a virtual failed state. And Cyril the useless and spineless does sweet bugger all.

  • Richard Robinson says:

    And so, another day in the ineptocracy.

  • Bob Dubery says:

    This happened because of the surge of nationalism in the country. Government, who were getting much of the blame, had to show that they were going to get tough on foreigners. Social media will now fill up with posts from the likes of McKenzie and Mashaba about how courts constantly overrule the wishes of the people because they are in the Oppenheimer’s pockets. Or some other such nastiness.

    • Michael Thomlinson says:

      I think this shambolic state of affiars is just typical of anything the ANC government run. Try getting anything done through a state department and you are confounded by a convoluted system that seems specifically aimed at tripping you up. We recently had to get a new company registerd and our experience has been nothing short of frustrating. At every turn there is a new twist to the tale and I get the clear impression that a group of morons are in a back room dreaming up these systems without any clear view of what they are trying to achieve other than to make it as difficult as possible for any would be user. 45 days later and we are still not out of the woods. Compare this to Aus: A quick email and a telephone call registers a new business, with ABN and VAT number, within 48 hours (even on a foreign work visa).

  • Mj Jorgensen says:

    He was absolutely useless as Minister of Health as well….cadres’ time has expired!

  • Daniel Duffin says:

    How about rANCid instead of cANCer? It seems to convey the correct sentiment.

  • jenniferleenorvall says:

    A rather frightening situation, tribal politics

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