SA immigration system is ‘worst in the world’
“FOR A COUNTRY burning with desire to hire talent, South Africa has the worst immigration system in the world.”
This was the view of immigration lawyer Gary Eisenberg, who was part of a panel discussion at University of Cape Town’s (UCT’s) annual Africa Careers Expo. The annual event was held on May 23 as part of a programme of events for Africa Month.
The expo facilitated student and recruiter introductions, and created a platform for investigating graduate opportunities on the continent.
Panel discussions included an employer Q&A, and a session on securing work permits, during which Eisenberg and Kenyan-born UCT graduate Dr Jennifer Githaiga offered advice to graduates wishing to work in South Africa.
About 5 000 international students from more than 100 countries study at UCT. But regardless of the skills or qualifications that they have to offer, only a small minority will succeed in securing the right to employment in South Africa after graduation. Eisenberg offered legal advice on navigating an increasingly complex immigration system. Both panellists painted a bleak picture for graduates from Africa and beyond.
Although there were technically three types of visas that fall into the work permit category, two were virtually useless to foreign graduates, said Eisenberg. Intra-Company Transfer Visas cater to employees of foreign companies who already hold positions overseas, and General Work Visa applicants are met with a success rate of about 4 percent.
The application process for a General Work Visa is particularly onerous. Foreign qualifications must be vetted by the SA Qualifications Authority, background checks conducted, and letters from prospective employers procured – all before the Department of Labour decides whether or not to certify that a South African could not do the same job. Only at this point can an application be submitted for adjudication.