Types of permits
Current legislation makes provision for no less than 13 types of temporary residence permits and under work permits a foreigner has the option of no less than 4 types. Since the Act and Regulations are comprehensive no decision is left to the discretion of an official and provision has been made in terms of which an applicant may lodge an appeal when a decision has been made which will adversely affect the applicant.
Foreigners who contemplate investment in the South African economy by establishing a business or by investing in an existing business in the Republic must apply for a business permit. In this instance the applicant will be required to invest a prescribed financial capital contribution in such business.
The Department of Home affairs does not place any restriction on the admission of foreign students to South African educational institutions, it however remains the Department's responsibility to control the admission to and the sojourn in the Republic of all foreign students. The overriding consideration in dealing with applications for study permits are, however, that no foreigner may displace a South African citizen/resident at a local educational institution and proof of sufficient funds to both support the student during his/her stay in South Africa, and to cover all tuition fees as well as adequate medical cover with a South African medical scheme.
The main consideration in dealing with work permits is whether a South African citizen/permanent resident cannot perform the employment task to be undertaken. Work permits are therefore only issued to foreigners where South African citizens with the relevant skills are not available for appointment. Having said that, however, in some instances international concerns with branches/affiliated companies in the Republic may from time to time decide to transfer existing personnel from a foreign branch to a branch in the Republic. As these employees will be key employees, they must apply for intra-company transfer work permits in which instance no proof of steps taken to obtain the services of a South African citizen/permanent resident will be required. Exchange permits may, furthermore, be issued to foreigners not older than 25 years of age, who wish to participate in cultural, economic or social exchange programmes, administered by an organ of State or a public higher educational institution in conjunction with an organ of a foreign state.
Retired person permits may be issued to a person who wishes to retire in South Africa, provided that such person complies with the financial requirements provided for in the Act and Regulations.
The immediate family of a South African citizen may likewise be issued a relative's permit once the financial means as contemplated in the Act and Regulations have been complied with.
The introduction of a corporate permit, which will allow a corporate applicant to employ a predetermined number of skilled/semi-skilled/unskilled workforce will assist not only the mines and farmers, but also companies who require mot than one skilled foreigner.
Where to apply for a temporary residence permit
In terms of current legislation a foreigner may only change his/her status whilst inside South Africa. This implies that a foreigner may only change from a temporary residence permit to a permanent residence permit within the country, as status has been defined as temporary or permanent residence. Any foreigner who therefore wishes to enter the RSA must apply for the appropriate temporary residence permit at the South African diplomatic representative in his/her country of origin. If the Department has no representative in that country the foreigner must apply at the South African diplomatic representative in a neighbouring or nearest country. The outcome must be awaited outside and arrangements to proceed to the Republic must only be made once the permit, as applied for, has been issued by the Department. Since applications for temporary residence permits are processed and finalised at the South African foreign offices the processing period will be reduced considerably.
Extension of temporary residence permit
Foreigners should please ensure to keep their temporary residence permits valid at all times and should furthermore be reminded that the Act stipulates that a foreigner may only enter South Africa if he/she can produce a passport to be valid for no less than 30 days after the expiry of intended stay in South Africa. It is furthermore prescribed in the Regulations that applications for the extension of a permit or a subsequent permit must be done 30 calendar days prior to the expiry of the temporary residence permit. Foreigners should, in conclusion, be reminded that an application for status does not provide a status and does entitle a foreigner to benefits under the Act not to sojourn in the Republic pending the Department's decision in respect thereof.