The Department of Home Affairs has put forward ambitious new proposals to revamp South Africa’s migration system to curb economic migration, whilst also attracting skills. The department believes that South Africa must begin to strategically manage migration rather than focusing on compliance.
The department is due to present a white paper on international migration to the Cabinet shortly. Among the proposals are delinking residency and citizenship and the introduction of long-term visas based on a points and skills system. Decisions on Citizenship appliations would in terms of the revisions now be made by a "Citizenship Advisory Panel" which would consider such applications.
The department also wants the removal of the automatic right of asylum applicants to work or study in SA. The department will push ahead with plans to establish border-processing centres for asylum seekers. In this regard the department maintains 95% of asylum applicants are economic migrants.
Some 16 million foreigners enter and exit SA every year‚ with 1 082 669 asylum seekers being registered between 2006 and 2015. SA has also deported 369 000 people from 2012 to 2017‚ with Home Affairs estimating that 95% of asylum applications are from economic migrants as opposed to political refugees.
The "processing camps" would house refugees pending adjudication of their cases. It would remove the automatic right to work or study pending the finalisation of an application that would take place in 120 days.
South Africa, long a haven for migrants from across Africa, is trying to update its immigration policy with a number of changes, which one official says aims to strike a balance between being welcoming of immigrants and keeping the nation safe.
The department expects the white paper to lead to legislative changes by 2018, replacing the current 1999 policy document, which is seen as “outdated”.
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