Last week, South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs announced that New Zealand has been added back onto their list of visa-waiver countries.
Initially included in the list, New Zealand was removed in 2016 in response to our own implementation of compulsory visas for all South African travellers entering this country. Immigration New Zealand put this into place due to an increase of overstayers, false documentation, and questionable integrity of applications and supporting documentation amid the deteriorating situation in South Africa.
Given the ongoing circumstances, Immigration New Zealand’s lack of reciprocation is unsurprising – even understandable. Visas are the only real way for authorities to assess an individual’s risk in terms of border control. From a cost perspective, it’s best to vet people before they get on a plane.
But, of course, there are implications.
New Zealand’s insistence on South African travellers having a visa creates a barrier for those with skills we need to come and search for work. With ongoing strain on New Zealand employers due to gaps in the labour force, one would hope there could be an easier system.
The way the New Zealand residence system is currently set up, it is easier to immigrate if you have a job offer. But New Zealand employers are reluctant to hire without actually having met a potential hire. And gaining a visa for job-searching purposes can be difficult. If applicants are required to return to South Africa to apply for a work visa once they have the job offer, it is incredibly frustrating for employers and potential employees alike. It’s also a hellishly big cost and a considerably difficult process.
Perhaps if New Zealand is trying to attract talent for our critical labour shortage, the Government could consider explicitly providing a job seeker’s visa.
Of course, it is difficult for border control to address everyone’s concerns. There would need to be some form of restriction and policing mechanisms to prevent unsuccessful job seekers from becoming a problem. It’s hard to find a halfway house to address the issue of risk.
For this reason, it is unlikely anything will change.
The full announcement made by the Minister of Home Affairs, Hon. Dr A. Motsoaledi, as part of a speech regarding the occasion of the Home Affairs Budget Vote can be read here: http://www.dha.gov.za/index.php/statements-speeches/1269-speech-delivered-by-the-minister-of-home-affairs-hon-dr-aaron-motsoaledi-on-the-occasion-of-the-home-affairs-budget-vote
If you have any immigration law queries you wish to discuss, you can contact New Zealand Immigration Law here.