Malawians affected as South Africa tightens immigration laws

Economic giant South Africa (SA) has introduced new immigration regulations introducing a new visa regime to immigrants, including many Malawians.

The new regulations draw a clear distinction between short-stay visas and long-stay permanent residence permits.

It also stipulates that visa applications need to be made by applicants in person, and those wanting to change the status of their visa can no longer do so in South Africa but have to do so at missions abroad.

According to information Nyasa Times has sourced, previously those who had overstayed in the country were being allowed re-entry into the country and to apply for permits and visas after paying fines.

But now, with effect from Monday, May 26 2014, offences of overstaying will attract a ban for a period ranging from one to five years.

A Malawian living in South Africa told Nyasa Times in an interview that fellow nationals must tread carefully and abide by the new provisions if they wish to continue staying in the country.

“Imagine if one is a businessman and gets a ban of up to five years for overstaying, it would be disastrous,” he said.

The new regulations will affect foreign national wishing to work, study or run businesses. Under the new immigration laws, exceptional skills permits would no longer exist. Under the old policy, sportsmen and women, artistes, medical practitioners, engineers and pilots could enter the country on an exceptional skills permit, regardless of whether they had secured employment or not.

South Africa Press Association (SAPA) quoted Global Migration SA managing director Leon Isaacson as saying “the newly gazetted immigration regulations as unconstitutional.

“These new regulations may trigger a raft of litigation with respect to obvious omissions and constitutional issues,” said Isaacson.

Many Malawians continue to stream into South Africa every week, for a better life.

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