South Africa: Beware the new migrant legislation

Published: 5/Oct/2018
Source: Mail & Guardian (South Africa)


By Stefanie de Saude Darbandi

Changes to new immigrant legislation could mean that many long-term residents are no longer eligible to remain in South Africa.

All indications are that the new law may be implemented in the next few months, but many provisions are vague and potentially ill-considered.

The new white paper on international migration, which appears to be close to adoption, could significantly change the landscape.

The department of home affairs has a history of making significant legislative changes with little or no notice. The existing legislation was implemented in 2014 with only one working day’s notice, with the result that even officials at home affairs did not fully understand the changes.  Inconsistent interpretation of the law resulted in the wrongful rejection of many applications for residency or citizenship in South Africa.

The new white paper could enact legislation with little notice in a matter of months, and even greater inconsistency in enforcing its provisions is likely because of a lack of clarity in several areas.

The white paper states that the aim of the new policies is to “increase South Africa’s international competitiveness for critical skills and investment in such a manner that it contributes to the achievement of national development goals”.

The white paper proposes that the granting of citizenship to foreigners be considered as exceptional and require an executive decision of the minister and calls for a points-based system for permanent residence and citizenship.

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Themes: Acquisition of nationality, Acquisition by children, Naturalisation and Marriage
Regions: South Africa
Year: 2018