With the country moving into level 3 on the 1st of June 2020 , the Minister of Home Affairs has provided an update on the Directions relating to immigration services during level 3. Whilst the President announced that at Level 3 all government services will resume , Home Affairs will not be providing immigration services to the public. What this means is that the immigration directives published on the 14th of April remain in force with a few changes. For more on the 14th of April directions please click here.
Regulation 41 of the disaster management Act provides the extent to which the immigration services will be operational. The borders will remain closed except ports of entry designated for the transportation of goods, humanitarian operations, repatriations, evacuations and medical emergencies.
Emergency Life Saving Medical treatment.
Direction 17A published on the 9th of May provides that any person who wishes to enter into or exit from the republic for medical attention for a life-threatening condition must apply to an immigration officer at a port of entry. In making that application the person must provide documentary proof the applicants life threatening condition and the persons passport copy. Once a decision is made on the application it will be communicated to the applicant as well relevant port authorities to allow for the entry or exit of that person.
Entry by SA Citizens and Permanent residents
The Department will allow for the entry of daily commuters who attend school in South Africa. The Department will also allow the entry of South African Citizens and permanent residents.
Deportations will occur during level 3. The inspectorate will be processing the deportations of any detained illegal immigrants. It is not clear whether this will mean that the Immigration enforcement unit will be actively seeking out illegal foreigners or will be focused solely on those persons who are already in their custody. It is doubtful that the illegal foreigners in this regard would be persons whose visas expired during the lockdown as this category of persons has been provided protections through the blanket authorization to remain in the republic that was extended when the lockdown was announced.
Visa and Permit Applications.
The services will not be available at level 3 however the services such as professional bodies, SAQA, Department of Trade and industry and other third parties involved in the application of visas will be operational. What this means is that applications for visas can be prepared but will have to wait for VFS to reopen for immigration services which can be either at level 2 or level 1.
There is a glimmer of hope in this, regulation 41(4) provides that “ The Cabinet Member responsible for home affairs in consultation with the cabinet members responsible for health and transport may allow certain categories of international travel resume once it is deemed safe to do so, subject to directions.” This suggests that during the level three phase of the lock down is possible to see the borders reopen of limited travel and possibly processing of visa applications.
We are open at level 3 and can be contacted for all our services.
Remember to stay home and to stay safe and if you have to leave the house mask up and sanitize