Media briefing by Home Affairs Director-General, Mkuseli Apleni on Centralisation of business, student and work permits, Arcadia House
18 Nov 2010
Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma has, in line with the government’s commitment to improving and speeding up the quality of service delivery to foreigners seeking study, work and business permits for the duration of their stay in South Africa, directed the department to create measures to ensure the issuance of such permits are from now henceforth centralised and issued from Home Affairs Headquarters in Pretoria.
Previously such permits were applied for, in the provinces and regional offices across the country and sent to headquarters for adjudication and ratification thus creating a huge backlog in the time taken to issue such permits to applicants.
Such backlogs have had a negative impact on operations of businesses who wish to bring into the country skilled workers from abroad to contribute to the economic growth plan of the country.
Secondly, it imposed untold hardships on such applicants, including CEO’s and other Executives of companies and middle management who have had to apply year-in-year-out for reissue of such permits. The consequence has been that the country loses out on critical skills that could have contributed immensely to the growth path of our economy.
Similarly, foreign students who require study permits are subjected to unnecessary delays in receiving study permits or re-issued study permits as they are required to apply for such permits annually, leading to some of them losing their allocated spaces in institutions of higher learning. A similar pattern has also been detected with regard to work permits.
Delays and backlogs were created by movement of such applications by courier between regional, provincial and Headquarters in Pretoria where they would be adjudicated and finalised. In such instances both the regions and provinces would await the existence of bulk applications to justify costs for sending applications by courier to headquarters.
Thirdly, unintended consequence of the current system is that it also created a climate conducive for corrupt elements to solicit bribes from such vulnerable applicants who are desperate to receive such permits in order to protect their jobs or spaces in institutions of higher learning. All in all the backlogs created by the system currently stands at over 13 000 applications for study, business, work and permanent permits.
“This is totally unacceptable and has become unbearable for business, students and foreign workers and requires urgent action to facilitate movement of such persons into our country to contribute meaningfully to the development of our country” said Minister Dlamini Zuma.
“In this context, if South Africa, requires such skills to contribute to our economic growth path and the overall social development of our country, the country has to make every effort to ensure we facilitate the movement of such skills into the country, within the framework of our Immigration Policy and without any hassles,” continued Minister Dlamini Zuma.
“Accordingly, we have to respond and respond urgently to alleviate the plight of such businesses, students and workers in a manner that enhances our own development and not make it difficult for such persons to acquire work, business and study permits. The department thus must develop urgent measures to address this unbearable situation” concluded Minister Dlamini Zuma.
In response to this impassioned plea from Minister Dlamini Zuma as well as the huge cries for help by the affected sections, the following new measures have now been put in place to deliver faster and quality service delivery to businesses, foreign workers and students:
1. Appointed a new Acting Chief Director-Permitting-Jacob Mamabolo, based at Headquarters in Pretoria to oversee the new process. His contact numbers are as follows: (Cell) 082 884 1868, (Tel) 012 810 7322, E-mail: Jacob.firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Mamabolo will lead a dedicated team of immigration officials, who shall receive, adjudicate and immediately issue such permits from Headquarters.
3. All permits –study, work or business permits- shall from now onwards adjudicated and issued from our Headquarters in Watloo, Pretoria
4. The process expressly excludes Zimbabwean nationals whose issues are dealt with in the context of the cabinet decision to regularise their stay in South Africa.
We further presented the Immigration Amendment Bill to the Home Affairs Portfolio Committee early this week, with proposals with a view to improving efficiency and control of the permitting system.
In addition, it is the Minister’s view that such study, business or work permits should have duration of three to five years with a view to obviating the need for annual applications for renewal of such applications. In this regard, the department will look into bringing changes to the current standard operating procedures to effect the Minister’s directive.
The department will do everything in its power to respond to the Ministerial directive in an attempt to make everything possible to ensure foreigners can contribute meaningfully to the development of our country without any obstacles through the timeous issuance of permits to all concerned.
Issued by: Department of Home Affairs
18 Nov 2010
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