15 July 2022

The New South African Critical Skills Work Visa – Six Months Later

Submitted by Kyle Glover
The New South African Critical Skills Work Visa – Six Months Later

Written by: Hannah Mminele
Edited by: Lauren Daniels

Summary
The 2nd of August 2022 will mark six months of the new Critical Skills List for South Africa being in effect. At IBN Immigration Solutions, we have been advising and consulting clients based on the new list for the past months. 

Introduction
In this article, I will share what we have learnt, what requires further clarification, and discuss the impact of some of the more drastic changes. 

What We Know – Lessons Learnt
For the categories of  Corporate General Manager and Director (both limited to medium enterprises or larger), very clear numerical guidelines were published to determine whether a company meets this threshold. While the thresholds are quite high, for example, requiring over 50 employees and an annual turnover greater than 85 million ZAR for Finance and Business Services – reducing the availability of this category for many people who had previously qualified – these clarifications are welcomed. Previously, the adjudication of Critical Skills Visas for Corporate General Manager had become unpredictable based on apparent implicit assumptions of what the company size should be.  

The MIE Verification of Employment History now required for Permanent Residence applicants in the field of Critical Skills has proven to be a fairly smooth process that usually takes no more than 5 – 10 working days.  

In some cases, even if your job title is not featured in exactly the same way on the Critical Skills List, you may be able to qualify under one of the alternative titles explicitly stated in the Technical Report on the Finalisation of the Critical Skills List. This is produced for the Department of Higher Education and Training as part of the Labour Market Intelligence research programme (“the Technical Report”).  

Although the Critical Skills List talks of a “Statutory Professional Body” in its last column, the Department of Home Affairs has clarified that both statutory and non-statutory professional bodies continue to be applicable. Most Professional Bodies have, by now, updated their lists to confirm which categories they can assist with. If you are unsure of the applicable Professional Body and registration processes, please contact us for assistance. 

Further Clarification Please – Things to be Addressed
Under the operation of the new Critical Skills List, there appears to be a trend whereby applications of persons who hold a  Candidate membership with the Professional Body are being denied. However, there is no indication of such a limitation on the new Critical Skills List or in the Technical Report. Often, candidate membership will be the applicable point of entry for a foreign applicant or recent graduate, due to the internal requirements of the professional bodies. While it may be understandable to limit Critical Skills Visa applicants to those who hold a job offer, the obstacles created for graduates of South African universities in the fields of Critical Skills (i.e., skills that South Africa needs for economic growth) and with a secured job offer are not justifiable. It would be welcome for the Department of Home Affairs to clarify whether this has been a further law change brought about by the new Critical Skills List. 

Further, the Director General’s Immigration Directive No 1 of 2022, which deals with the Implementation of the Critical Skills List and published by the Department of Home Affairs on their website on 11 March 2022, does not mention the withdrawal of  Immigration Directive 22 of 2014, which deals with the Confirmation of Skills Letter in addition to Professional Body membership and rejections based on the lack of such a letter therefore also raise questions. The status of this 2014 Immigration Directive should also be clarified.   

Impact – The Ones Facing Uncertain Futures
The removal of the 1-year job seeker option has placed the possibility of an uncertain future before many foreign students in South Africa. Foreign students now need to juggle their final year together with the search for employment or face the need to leave South Africa at the end of their studies and seek employment while based in their home country. This change in Immigration Policy placed South Africa out of step with most European countries and hampers the possibility to retain those critically skilled foreigners, that, having studied in South Africa and within the Southern African context, surely hold some of the most desirable Critical Skills the country would want to retain.  

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About IBN Immigration Solutions
IBN Immigration Solutions is a multiple award-winning boutique immigration firm providing specialist immigration services for African countries, as well as some international markets. Our vision is to enable talent to work and live within Africa and contribute to developing this energetic and fascinating continent and its people. We believe in making Africa a better place and complying with international laws.

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Read more at https://www.ibn.co.za/blog-and-news/csv-six-mnths-later/

IBN Immigration Solutions

IBN Immigration Solutions is a multiple award-winning boutique immigration company providing specialist immigration services for African countries, as well as some international markets. Our vision is to enable talent to work and live within Africa and contribute to developing this energetic and fascinating continent and its people. We believe in making Africa a better place and complying with international laws.