For the past 3 years speculation has been rife about an amendment to the Critical Skills List.  At some point a leaked document was doing the rounds and led many people into a panicked state. Some even believed that the critical skills list was changed then.  In all this noise the one entity that remained quite was the Department of Home Affairs. No official communication was ever made about a change in the critical skills list until today.   So it is official, the critical skills list is being amended and the Department of Home Affairs has invited the public to comment on this proposed list.  Public comments will remain open until the 31st of March 2021

So, when will the new critical skills list be gazetted?  The statement by the Department suggest that it will be within 2021 because the name of the list is the Critical Skills list 2021. So that’s perhaps the clearest indication that the change will happen within this year still. When in 2021 is anyone’s guess but its likely to take place within a few months from the close of the public comment period.

It is certainly prudent to submit any application being considered under the current critical skills regime sooner rather than later because after 31 March 2021 there is no guarantee that there will be a significant amount of time that will pass before a new list is gazetted. Home Affairs is not known for giving a reasonable notice period, in 2014 the Immigration Act was gazetted on a Thursday afternoon commencing the following Tuesday, giving people a mere 2 working days to come to terms with the change. However, the rules that regulate the repeal of statutes provides that a new act or regulation does not apply retrospectively this means if your application has been submitted before the change in the regulation it should be considered in terms of the current critical skills list.

The draft list does contain some sensible additions such as some professions in the tourism industry like chefs and travel agency manager. There are also proposals to add university lectures and FET College Principals to the mix. Other skills on the current critical skills list are set to remain with slight changes which make the skills more clearer. Others such as the Corporate General Manager category looks set to be removed.

It is important to state that this list is a draft and by no means final. New skills may be added or removed post the comment period and well will know the final list when it is finally gazetted. But it is reasonable to expect this list to be a close representation of the 2021 Critical Skills List.