The year 2022 has gotten off to a very busy start on the immigration front.  Starting off with the grace period for ZEP permit holders ,followed by the withdrawal of the SA graduate waiver for foreign students who graduate with a qualification falling within the critical skill and a new critical skills list.  Our Minister has been very busy, and it is only just a little over 30 days into the new year.  In this Immigration Update we will shed some light on the hot topics within the SA Immigration landscape and attempt to decipher what the year ahead will look like.

Critical skills shocker

The new critical skills list has been published and it is not at all what was expected. In what has become the modus of DHA , the new list was published without notice and with no time to allow those who are no longer on the list to submit the their applications.  The draft list we saw in March last year was extensive and covered a lot of areas including new additions in the tourism industry.  The list that is now in place is quite different. It is shorter with only 101 skills making the cut. In addition, it contains minimum NQF levels for anyone considering applying for the critical skill visa. This inclusion of NQF levels seems to ignore that framing of section 19(4) of the Immigration Act which provides that anyone with skills or qualifications to apply.  The word skills in the Act points to persons who have experience in a particular field or professional certifications something common in industries such as the IT and multimedia space.  This means it will be harder to recruit key skills that do not come with a degree.

Perhaps the biggest shocker is the exclusion of the medical practitioners from the list. Traditionally doctors, nurses and other medical practitioners have found expression on the skills list going back as far as 2002 when the first quota permit list was published.  This time around only a nurse educator is included in the list.   Another exclusion from the list is the Motor Mechanics and Diesel Mechanics.

Its not all doom and gloom as the STEM Educators have made a return to the list. Teachers in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics field have made a return to the critical skills list. This will not doubt be good news to all the educators that were facing an uncertain future with general work visas becoming more and more difficult to secure.  

Withdrawal of the 2016 graduate waiver

Last week the Minister withdrew the waiver that allowed foreigners who graduated with a qualification in a field of critical skills from South African Institutions the opportunity to apply for the permanent residence in terms of section 27(b).  The waiver removed the requirement of 5 years post qualification experience under section 27(b) thus allowing recent graduates to apply. However, this waiver has now been withdrawn meaning that any one looking to apply for permanent residence must satisfy the requirements in full under section 27(b). Contact us for a consultation regarding your permanent residence options.  

The future of immigration landscape in SA

The recent moves by government suggest that the country is moving from a liberal immigration system to a more restrictive regime. The recent press statements by the Minister of Home Affairs demonstrate a willingness to close the many loopholes within our immigration system.  Already there is talk of changes to the Immigration Act, Citizenship Act and Refugees Act to bring these laws inline with the present realities of South Africa such as rising unemployment and the perception of a country overrun by foreigners. Going forward we are likely to see more efforts to better control immigration and the employment of foreigners in the country. Whether that will bring any positive changes to these present realities is yet to be seen. But one thing is for sure we have a committed Minister who is not afraid to take bold action.