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Work vs Business Trip Visas– Department of Home Affairs picking up on misuse

28 May 2019 Marisa Jacobs, Director at Xpatweb, Tax Consulting SA

The Department of Home Affairs published the first directive for 2019 explaining the rules of Section 11(2) Visitor Visas with endorsement to conduct work.

The sparing nature in which directives are issued further highlights the importance of this directive and the focus of the Department on business travelers and short-term assignees vs long term secondees.

Only Issued Once in a Calendar Year
The directive clarifies that Section 11(2) visas are not to be used continuously and are specifically to allow for short term project resources in South Africa.

The issuing of this directive indicates a common misuse of the visa category by employers where they are making use of the relaxed nature of visa requirements of this category to bring resources into South Africa and then continuously extending or applying for new visas when they should in fact be pursuing a long term work visa.

The directive now sets out clearly that the visa may only be applied for once in a calendar year and further only extended once in the Republic for a period not exceeding 3 months. The maximum period thus 6 months.

Work Legally in the Short Term
There is further a broad misrepresentation by business travellers, especially those travelling from visa exempt countries, who enter South Africa on a holiday/business visa while in fact conducting work in South Africa.

When an employee comes to render employment services in South Africa, make sure they get a valid short-term work visa.

Do not take a chance and tell the immigration official this is only a business trip, when the purpose is work.

It is easy to be compliant and not worth the risk. The process takes 5 – 10 working days and the short-term visa is issued for 3 months and may be extended in South Africa for a further 3 months.

Consequences of Working on a Business Visa
Where an expatriate is found on your premises conducting work without the necessary authorisation on their visa to conduct such work, the Immigration Act clearly sets out the implications for both the expatriate and the employer.

This includes arrest and deportation for the foreign national and a fine and/or arrest for the employer depending on the offence.

The issuing of the above directive points to a more vigilant Department with their eye on individuals and businesses who do not comply with the conditions of their visas.

This is a good time to ensure all employees are compliant and your organisation is in the green.

 

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