Minister launches plan for foreign students – Study Visa
23 April 2016 – BD Live
Cape Town – Foreign students graduating from South African universities in critical skills areas will soon qualify for permanent residence permits, so their talents can be retained, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has announced.
“International students constitute a key segment which is prioritised by governments globally, because of the economic and social benefits they offer host countries in terms of adding to the skills base and contributing positively to society more broadly,” Gigaba said during his budget vote speech in Parliament on Friday.
He would formally launch the special exemption in the coming weeks to make sure the country benefited from all the skills produced by its universities.
Turning to the controversy over onerous visa regulations which many tourism operators blamed for a drop in visits last year, Gigaba gave an update on implementation of the revised measures agreed after differences between himself and Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom were ironed out.
The department had processed visits of 16.1 million foreign nationals in 2015/16 and arrivals in January had increased by 15 percent year-on-year.
It had also issued 4 424 critical skills visas last year, 80 percent finalised within the target turnaround time of eight weeks.
“This year, to further support tourism and inward investment, we will open two premium business visa facilitation centres in Port Elizabeth and Durban, with a third likely to be opened in Cape Town,” Gigaba said.
He made a pitch for a bigger budget in the next financial year, saying a “modern, secure Home Affairs” would need more funds and he would present a business case to the cabinet for approval before the end of the year. The department was modernising its systems so that, ultimately, documents could be applied for and collected without the need for a visit to a Home Affairs office.
“There will be opportunities for Home Affairs to generate new revenue streams, and hence the overall impact of this re-alignment on the fiscus should be positive,” Gigaba said.