The success of the 2010 FIFA World Cup could result in an increase in immigration to South Africa, reports immigration services company Intergate Immigration communications officer Hanna Schober.
She says that, generally, the process of immigrating to South Africa is less complicated than the processes followed by most countries.
However, she believes that the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) needs to improve its competence and service levels.
“A better-controlled DHA means improved efficiency and faster administration, which would make the process of immigrating to South Africa easier for all people involved. Further, tougher rules and fines to deter corruption in the department should be implemented,” says Schober.
She believes that procedures are inconsistent, while immigration laws are vague and the department is narrow-minded in its interpretation of these procedures and laws.
“The department has to change. Its workflow and structure are not favourable for immi- gration. Intergate also suggests that lawmakers and immigration practitioners need to establish immigration laws, which are strict, but practical and favourable for South Africa,” says Schober.
She explains that it is important that South Africa controls its borders and protects the best interests of its citizens, while immigration laws and regulations must be fair and enforced effectively and consistently.
“The DHA impacts on a person’s life, whether it is a South African applying for an identity document to acquire a driver’s licence, which could assist in their employment; or a foreigner trying to obtain a permit to set up a business in South Africa to promote skills transfer and the creation of jobs,” explains Schober.
“As it stands, many lives are negatively affected by the poor service delivery of the DHA. We know this, as we hear the tragic stories everyday,” she says.
From January 2010 to June 2010, Intergate processed about 300 main applicants (accompanying family members excluded) for immigration to South Africa. This figure does not differentiate between the corporate candidates processed.
From January 2009 to June 2009, Intergate assisted about 450 main applicants and an increase in the number of corporate candidates was noted.
“There is generally no specific peak month for applications; however, most of our clients start the preparation process by the middle of the year to arrive in South Africa during the summer months. Over the years, South Africa has increasingly become a destination of choice for people wanting to immigrate, with most people emigrating from the UK, Germany and the Netherlands,” explains Schober.
She believes that South Africa is the powerhouse of Africa, as the country boasts advanced infrastructure, has a First World economy and business structure and offers great potential for foreign investors.
Immigrating to South Africa can also provide some people with an improved standard of living, while others enjoy the idea of living in a holiday destination, notes Schober.
“The weather is beautiful almost the entire year round. Immigrants can enjoy the mountains, the beaches, the interesting cultures, religions and ethnic food South Africa offers. Further, the country is a destination preferred by UK retirees that find the idea of living on a golfing estate ideal. Retiring in South Africa makes sense for UK retirees, because they are not required to pay tax or worry about living without the benefits that are provided by their home country,” she adds.
Meanwhile, the number of South Africans returning home is increasing, while most South Africans return with foreign partners who require a permit to stay in the country.
“Immigration requirements are dependent on what the applicant’s purpose is in South Africa. Each category has different requirements that must be met to qualify for immigration. It is important that each potential immigrant’s situation is assessed thoroughly to ensure that every option is taken into consideration and that the most practical, accommodating route is taken. If the initial assessment is not comprehensive, problems may occur later,” explains Schober.
The ease of immigrating to South Africa is dependent on the applicant, the permit required, the country the applicant is emigrating from and whether the applicant has family or relatives in South Africa.
The DHA had not responded for comment at the time of going to press.