Thousands of professional Batswana workers and expatriates working in South Africa have expressed concern that the country’s new job critical skills list might result in most of them leaving the country as they wouldn’t be eligible to qualify for visas.
While the South African government has denied that the process of updating the critical skills list is being hastened without the necessary consultation with relevant authorities, a number of immigration consultants have told SUNDAY STANDARD that the new condensed list is not a surprising move as the country is seen as moving towards “economic nationalism” which is hostile to foreign workers and expats.
An immigration consultant based in Durban, Clifford Malema said since changes were made to the South African Immigration Act in 2014, skilled foreign workers have not had it easy as they struggled to enter South Africa.
“This is the first time we will have a revised critical skills list since 2014 and we don’t know how they came up with this list and who they consulted with,” he told this publication.
Although South Africa is currently grappling with skills shortages, the new list which removes sectors such as architecture where most Batswana and other foreign national are is seen as a way by the government to try and solve the decades old problem of inequality in the country. Unemployment is believed to be over 25 percent in South Africa.
A Motswana worker based in Johannesburg said, “getting visas has become a very difficult process which requires them to engage the services of lawyers in order to complete the entire process. Even if we try to appeal the visa outcomes, such processes are very expensive and could also take several months if not years to be finished.”
The existing job skills list which has not been updated by the South Africa Department of Home Affairs since 2014 is being seen as considerably shorter as compared to other versions and does not give various companies the time to plan.
Although some people have accused South Africa as xenophobic because of the increased difficulty of obtaining visas, South African officials says they are simply trying to draw interest from highly-qualified foreigners who wish to work and stay in South Africa.