Author: Marisa Jacobs, Director and Immigration Specialist at Xpatweb
The starting point when bringing in a foreign specialist into your business is the Critical Skills List, which notes the professions where Home Affairs issues Work Permits due to areas where there are shortages of skills.
Foreign nationals who therefore have the skills listed on the Critical Skills list may apply for a Critical Skills Work Visa to work in South Africa. The list has been highly criticised, from not including many business skills, to certain categories being “abused” by a wide interpretation.
Over the last 18 months there has been talk of refining the list further with the “Corporate General Manager” category top of the chopping block. This new list is highly anticipated with wide spread speculation on what will be included, or perhaps more importantly excluded.
Do you need a new Museum Manager, Director of Marketing or IT specialist?
The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) has published the "National list of occupations in high demand: 2018” listing over 370 high-demand occupations in South Africa.
The occupations listed are those that show relatively strong employment growth and/or are experiencing shortages in the labour market or which are expected to be in demand in future.
The Critical Skills list published in 2014 was developed in conjunction with the occupations in high demand and the scarce skills lists of the DHET. It is therefore expected that the 2018 list will again be consulted when revising the Critical Skills list and as such may provide a window into what we may expect from revised Critical Skills list.
For the first time the DHET list has been divided into three levels of demand, highest demand, higher demand, and high demand. Cross referencing the occupations on the above DHET list to the current Critical Skills list published in 2014, we highlighted below some of the occupations still showing high demand as well as a few new and emerging occupations not on the DHET list before and not on the current Critical Skills list.
Please click here for the full list http://www.xpatweb.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/National-list-of-occupations-in-high-demand-2018.pdf
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Author: Tasia Brummer, Immigration Administrator at Xpatweb
The White Paper for South African Migration was released on 28 July 2017 by the Department of Home Affairs. Whether you have foreign workers in South Africa, South African workers abroad or deal in any capacity with these changes, there is now a unique window to get your house in order and contribute to this important development in emigration law.
The White Paper aims to improve the management, security and influx and outflux of foreign and local nationals within South Africa and the current regimes thereof. Not only will foreign nationals whom are sojourning and those who wish to sojourn in the Republic be affected, but South African citizens who work abroad must also take note of important changes.
Points Based System – Easier for the foreign national families
The Paper proposes that a “points-based” system be put in place for migrants who hold skills, potential investments and/or have business interests within the Republic. Thus, we are adopting a more strategy based and flexibility approach. This system may be adjusted considering the qualifications, experience, capital availability and willingness of the transfer of skills from foreign nationals.
Expats with scarce skills will too be required to transfer their unique skills and experiences to citizens of South Africa. This will further fill the skills gap within the labour market and decrease the scarcity of the needed skills. The acclaimed Critical Skills list will be reviewed to ensure that ‘scarce skills’ aren’t over-capacitated.
This will make it far easier for the correct expatriates to access long-stay visas. Furthermore, which can only be applauded, expats’ immediate family may apply as one unit and will thus enable the family members to conduct work and study without needing to apply for alternative visas. This is a large positive compared to current where accompanying family members are not allowed to work unless married to a South African citizen.
The toothbrush test is coming
It further proposes ‘Marriage Clearance Certificates’ to be issued to foreigners whom intend to enter into spousal relationships with citizens. This regime is only to ascertain the status of the marriage and to ensure that respective foreigners are not married in their home countries.
The process hereof is yet to be identified, but, like in the American movies, this will be where they put you in different rooms and check that you know the colour of your spouse’s toothbrush, who sleeps what side, is the pillow had or soft and how you feel that your mother-in-law interferes in the marriage.
Permanent residency to longer
Permanent residency is proposed to be replaced with longer term visas in order to dismiss the misunderstanding that expats may have in terms of progressing to citizenship by only taking into consideration the number of years they have spent in the country. The progression is thus aimed at expats who hold the necessary qualities of which will contribute to the South African economy.
Accordingly, the “point-based system” will further monitor on whether a person may qualify for short- or long-term residency and will result on whether they may apply for permanent residency and/or citizenship. Consequently, process of residency and citizenship will be deemed to be delinked.
South African citizens
Although the White Paper focuses solely on the Migration to South Africa, it does however further mention that citizens in the Republic whom intend to emigrate for a period longer than three (3) months will be mandated to apply for registration as per the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO). This is to ensure that ‘strong ties’ are maintained together with the development agenda for the country, but we can see that SARS will probably also be very interested in this database.
Although the White Paper focuses solely on the future, there are two immediate takeaways –
Photo caption: Tasia Brummer
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Author: Marisa Jacobs, Director – Head of Immigration and Mobility at Xpatweb
How difficult is it really to obtain a work visa for a foreign skilled employee? In truth, extremely easy if you know what you need and how to go about it, but near impossible if you are inexperienced and make school boy errors. Here are some expert tips to help:
When an employee comes to render employment services in South Africa, make sure they get a valid short-term work visa. Do not take a chance and tell the immigration official this is only a business trip, when the purpose is work. It is easy to be compliant and not worth the risk. The process takes ten working days and the short-term visa is issued for three months, while it may be extended in South Africa for a further three months.
New foreign boss? Don’t stress
Getting a new boss from overseas is stressful enough, let alone making them think you are not competent in sorting out their work permit status and the family’s residency permits. Luckily, the intra-company transfer work visa is one of the quickest and cleanest visas to obtain. Just make sure you understand the rules and requirements upfront as one piece of incorrect guidance or supporting document, can put you back to square one. These take two months to obtain, end-to-end and where done effectively.
When you need that critical and rare skilled employee
What do you do when your business family just do not have an important skill that you need? There are some in the market, but they are rare and you just do not have the budget to attract and retain them?
The critical skill work visa route is a real game changer, mostly misunderstood and provides a brilliant and certain means to building a superior work force. You will be surprised to know the comprehensiveness of the qualifying skills. We have always been able to find a suitable category for a genuinely scarce skill in South Africa.
This category is also very attractive for the employer and expatriate. The employer gains a competitive edge on attraction and retention, as the visa is issued for the employer; whilst this category gives the expatriate the right to qualify in time for permanent residency in South Africa. One can rightly call this a win-win.
Do not make this crucial mistake
Stay away from the general work permit categories, except where you have a very large expatriate programme. This category has been made subject to an initial Department of Labour process, it has become virtually unobtainable. You will be promised an effective process, but after countless deadliness missed with impunity, you will still have no traction.
Waiving like a pro
The immigration laws of South Africa are very competently drafted legislation. This means that there are numerous special provisions which cater for situations which are unique and fail-safe clauses, which gives discretion where you need help, but need something special for your organisation. These include waiver provisions, which gives the department the right to waive certain legislative requirements.
Where you have a large project, or need to otherwise bring a large group of expatriates into South Africa, this is crucial for your expatriate programme.
The work visa process should not be an isolated one. The same way that all aspects of your family needs looking after, the fiscal planning for an expatriate cannot be in isolation with the work visa process. This includes contracting correctly as expatriates have different terms and conditions of employment, expert tax planning including international tax planning, exchange control and banking planning; and even catering for their employee benefits, as normal South African benefit programmes are mostly too expensive for them and also seldom suitable.
Photo caption: Marisa Jacobs
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