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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Home Affairs to tighten the screws on illegal immigrants in the workplace

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The Department of Home Affairs issued a formal warning that it will be inspecting South African employers to ensure that employees who are foreign nationals and illegal immigrants are recorded and dealt with according to South African law. Employees also face steep fines and even imprisonment should it be found that they are not complying with laws surrounding the employment of immigrants.

The planned audit is said to start soon and without warning. Employers are urged to ensure that all employees are legally entitled to work in South Africa.

The arrest of at least 25 illegal immigrants at the beginning of May by the Cape Town Police, accompanied by officials from the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), sparked a scramble among the local business community who are concerned that they may unknowingly be employing foreigners who are working in the country illegally.

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According to communication by the Department of Home Affairs the number of audits and investigations will be increased and anyone found to be in contravention of immigration laws will be dealt with harshly. Essentially this means that anyone who is deemed responsible for the appointment of an illegal immigrant could face repercussions. HR managers to CEOs could face fines or imprisonment if found guilty.

What the Department will be looking out for:

  • Employees who are in jobs not matched by their work visa
  • Making sure that an employee’s job title matches the title on their work visa is a vital step to ensuring that foreigners are complying with the Act.
  • When an employee changes jobs and their job title or position changes, their work visa may no longer comply with the conditions thereof.

Employers and employees should undergo the process of updating visas in the case where there have been changes to the employees post. It is advisable to seek the assistance of a specialist immigration consultant to ensure that the application complies with South African law and to make sure that undue delay in the processing of applications is avoided.

False permits and visas

Employers who employed a foreign national already in possession of a visa must ensure that the worker’s visa is legitimate and whether it was obtained in the correct manner or even if it was issued by the DHA. Employers should always contact the DHA to check what information is on the system. This additional check beyond looking at a work visa is needed to ensure compliance with the Act.

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No skills transfer plan

Employers are advised to seek professional advice to ensure that they are compliant with the immigration condition relating to the transfer of skills. In certain circumstances the conditions of a foreign national’s work visa stipulate that the skill that is being imported needs to be transferred to local citizens. Employers should have a Skills Transfer plan in place and available on request by the DHA.

Source: SA Mining Review and DHA

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