South Africa: Finance Minister reconfirms plans to accelerate immigration reforms

What is the change? In his Medium Term Budget Policy Statement delivered to Parliament Wednesday, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan cited immigration as a key factor in future economic growth and reconfirmed the government’s commitment to accelerate immigration reform.

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What does the change mean? The Medium Term Budget Policy statement acknowledged immigration as one of five domestic policy areas where the slow pace of implementation and reform has impeded growth, trade and investment, and recommended reforms such as faster processing, longer-validity visas and other measures to reduce the cost of doing business

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Allvisas and resident permits.
  • Who is affected: South African companies and foreign workers in South Africa.
  • Impact on processing times: According to the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement, policies to speed or reduce immigration processing are under consideration.
  • Business impact: Among the reforms under consideration are long-term multiple-entry visas for frequent business travelers, implementation of an advanced passenger processing system and visas-on-arrival for some foreign travelers.

Background: The Medium Term Budget Policy Statement is the Finance Ministry’s policy document that communicates the economic context in which the forthcoming annual budget will be presented, along with fiscal policy objectives and spending priorities over the next three-year expenditure period. In presenting the statement to Parliament, the Minister commented that “South Africa is undergoing a difficult economic transition” due to global instability as well as structural constraints, but cited immigration as a policy area where the government must implement reforms more rapidly and said that funds will be reprioritized to the Department of Home Affairs to achieve this aim.

The full statement may be viewed here.

BAL Analysis: The statement is a positive indication that the government recognizes immigration reform as a priority in promoting investment, restoring confidence and driving economic growth.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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