Malusi Gigaba, Minister of Home Affairs, announced changes to South Africa’s visa regulations on Tuesday, 25 September 2018 during a media conference in Pretoria. According to Gigaba, his Department undertakes to manage migration in a way that will promote economic development.
The changes follow President Cyril Ramaphosa announcement Friday about the plan for economic reforms as part of his stimulus package. These reforms include changes to South Africa’s visa regulations.
The changes include the regulations on travelling with minors and the list of countries that requires visas to enter South Africa. The visa requirements for highly-skilled foreigners will also be reviewed and an e-visa project is also envisaged.
The travel regulations that require South Africans younger than 18 to have unabridged birth certificates as well as written permission by parents or guardian(s) that approve their travel plans will remain. The rule for foreign nationals who travel with minors will be simplified, however, without compromising their safety or the rights of their parents. Changes will also make it easier for foreigners to travel with their children, as this requirement caused major obstructions to international tourism.
The reference to “unabridged birth certificate” will be replaced by the more descriptive phrase “birth certificate with details of the parents”. It will still refer to the same document, however. It was also announced that the plan was to print the parent details in future inside the minor child’s passport, which will make an unabridged birth certificate redundant.
The implementation of regulations on minorities will be finalised within sufficient time before the festive season, when most people travel with their children.
According Sue-Ann de Wet, AfriForum’s Project Coordinator for the South African Diaspora, these changes may come too late. “We have been raising our concerns on the outcome of the visa regulations since it was announced for the first time. South Africa’s tourism industry has already suffered great losses – including a loss in employment opportunities.
“The same goes for immigration. South Africa currently suffers from a significant skills shortage, and if tourism is deterred, this will affect immigrants even more in an international environment in which there is fierce competition for skills and knowledge,” says De Wet.
AfriForum welcomes the changes to visa regulations, because the organisation wants everyone who are affected by the new regulations – including tourism operators, airlines, foreign chambers of commerce and migrations specialists, as well as AfriForum – to work together with the Departments of Home Affairs and Tourism to find workable solutions to problems. The effective managing of control measures is also important for the country’s economic growth.