ZIMBABWEANS and other foreign nationals who overstay in South Africa will now be banned from entering the neighbouring country as it tightens its immigration regime.
All along, those who overstayed were allowed to re-enter South Africa and apply for permits and visas after being made to pay fines.
However, with effect from Monday May 26, overstaying allocated time in South Africa will attract a ban for a period ranging from one to five years.
Notices have been posted on the South African side of the Beitbridge border post informing those entering and leaving that country of the new changes.
First-time offenders, who overstay for less than 30 days, would be banned from entering South Africa for one year, while second-time offenders who overstay by the same period get a two-year ban and those that overstay for a period exceeding 30 days are banned for five years.
Meanwhile, Global Migration SA yesterday described the newly-gazetted immigration regulations as unconstitutional.
“These new regulations may trigger a raft of litigation with respect to obvious omissions and constitutional issues,” Global Migration SA managing director Leon Isaacson said.
The regulations, which came into effect on Monday, also introduce a new visa regime for South Africa.
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.
“It will be difficult to submit an application from Monday May 26 as the vast majority of the Home Affairs offices or missions abroad are not aware of their responsibilities,” Isaacson said.
“Most [missions] do not have complete requirements lists, they do not know what fees to charge, and neither do they have essential information like lists of critical skills, financial requirements and other elements essential for applicants to make a valid application.”
The provision forcing foreign spouses to prove they had been in a relationship for two years was also deemed unconstitutional by Isaacson. — Sapa/Staff Reporter