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The overriding consideration in dealing with applications for work permits is whether the employment or task to be undertaken cannot be performed by a South African citizen or an approved immigrant already residing in South Africa. It therefore follows that work permits are only granted in instances where South African citizens or other legal permanent residents are not available for appointment or cannot be trained for the position.
Employment opportunities are as a result of the prevailing economic climate in South Africa extremely limited and there is at present no special drive or project to attract foreign workers to South Africa. Even as far as the so-called scarce employment categories are concerned the position has worsened to the extent where professionally and technically qualified persons are being laid off and are finding it extremely difficult to secure alternative employment. It is for this reason currently a prerequisite that foreigners wishing to take up employment in South Africa, be in possession of firm and acceptable offers of employment commensurate with their training, qualifications and experience before an application for a work permit can be considered.
Employers wishing to introduce foreign workers to South Africa must obtain the permission of the Department of Home Affairs and be able to satisfy the department that they were unable to obtain the required personnel locally. Aspects which are in this regard taken into account are, inter alia, the following:
- Date on which the position (s) became available or vacant.
- Whether the vacancies were advertised and if so, in which papers or other suitable media and the number of insertions.
- Reasons why applicants from the South African labour market who may have responded to the advertisements could not be appointed.
- Whether the Department of Manpower, private employment bureaus or agencies or the relevant trade union or industrial council had been approached with regard to filling the vacancies.
- Whether a local unit can be trained to fill a specific position, even if a foreign specialist has to undertake the training for a limited period on contract.
- Whether the applicant appointed or to be appointed is in possession of any special qualifications, training and experience not obtainable in South Africa.
- In the case of senior positions, whether the proper filling of the vacancy or position by the promotion of existing personnel has received due consideration.
Section 26(2)(a) of the said act provides that an application for a work permit may only be made while the appointment is outside the Republic and such applicant shall not be allowed to enter the Republic until a valid permit has been issued to him or her. Applications must be submitted to the South African foreign office in or the nearest such office to the country of which the applicant is a valid passport holder or the country in which he normally resides and await the outcome prior to making arrangements for departure to South Africa.
Applications are subject to the payment of a non-refundable fee which is presently fixed at USD132 or the equivalent thereof in the monetary unit of the country where the application is submitted. Permits are valid for twelve (12) months and renewals thereof may be applied for in South Africa at a cost of R 520. (as at 01/6/02)
The department is also not averse to granting permits to key personnel seconded by corporate businesses to take up temporary employment in their local branches and to this end all South African foreign offices have been authorized to approve such applicants without referral to Head Office. These transfers should, however, be kept to the minimum required for the effective and smooth running of the business.
The Sub-directorate Temporary Residence of the Department deals with applications for work permits and may be contacted at telephone number (01... or facsimile numbers (012) 321 9890 should further information be required.
The department regularly liaises with the Department of Labour, the relevant trade unions, industrial councils, employers' and employees' organisations and various professional bodies regarding the availability of suitably qualified personnel on the local labour market, in order to fulfill a controlling function in the above regard.
Last Updated on Thursday, 26 November 2009 15:42