Addressing the fifth SA Investment Conference, South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa said the government would streamline application requirements to reduce the time frames for obtaining a work visa.
“We will introduce a Trusted Employer Scheme for qualifying companies and establish a points-based system to provide more flexible pathways for skilled applicants, in line with global best practice,” Ramaphosa said.
“We will be expanding the e-visa system to include an additional 20 countries above the 14 that are currently eligible, and will extend it to cover new visa categories such as study, business and intra-company transfer visas,” he elaborated.
Tens of thousands of foreigners working or intending to work in South Africa faced having their visas canceled at the end of March because the authorities were unable to process their applications, Business Leadership South Africa said in a statement last week.
While a last-minute reprieve validated the status of those already in the country, it was of little use to thousands more people around the world waiting for their documents to be processed, the group said.
As of March-end, the Department of Home Affairs was looking at a backlog of 62,692 visa applications.South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision to overhaul the work visa system on Thursday was lauded by Indian business conglomerates, who said the move will create more employment and foster a slew of investments in the country.
The India Business Forum, which represents around 150 Indian companies in South Africa, have long bemoaned the delays in obtaining visas.
Over the years, the Indian missions here have also held discussions with the South African government on this festering issue.
South African businesses have previously complained that the visa regime was an obstacle to attracting investments, including in the tourism industry.
Ramaphosa also announced the launch of a new investment drive through which he expects to garner investments to the tune of R2 trillion over the next five years.
In 2018, Ramaphosa announced a target of raising R1.2-trillion in five years in a drive to create jobs and drive economic growth.
He said so far, the government had attracted R1.14-trillion in investment pledges.
“South Africa continues to be an attractive investment destination despite a strained domestic and global economic climate,” Ramaphosa said, adding that there were many challenges caused by “years of under-investment, mismanagement and corruption in our electricity, rail and logistics sectors.”
“These reforms will enable us to attract skills and investment and create jobs while protecting and promoting the employment of South Africans,” he added.
Praveer Tripathi, President of the India Business Forum has lauded Ramaphosa’s announcements.
“This is a very welcome step, although we would have preferred a visa on arrival,” he said.
“The President’s call for investors to help create jobs and promote employment for South Africans is also something that most Indian companies who have been here for some time now fully support. Easing the visa regime will help accelerate this even further,” Tripathi added.
with inputs from PTI