Immigrating to a new country can be a daunting and complex process. Whether it’s for personal reasons, work opportunities, or a desire for a change of scenery, navigating immigration laws and regulations can be overwhelming.
Many individuals and businesses seek assistance from professionals when dealing with immigration matters. One question that often arises is whether you need to hire an immigration lawyer to render immigration services in South Africa and other African countries.
In this article, we will explore this topic and shed light on the role of an immigration lawyer.
The Legal Landscape
In the United States, the practice of immigration law is tightly regulated, and only licensed attorneys are allowed to provide immigration-related legal services. However, the situation is quite different in South Africa and many other African countries.
The legal answer is clear: you do not have to be an immigration lawyer to offer immigration services in South Africa. There are no statutory requirements or protected groups of professionals in this industry, making it an open field.
Benefits of Hiring an Immigration Lawyer
While it may not be a legal requirement to hire an immigration lawyer in South Africa, it is essential to consider the benefits of doing so. In the past, there were designated groups of professionals, including advocates, attorneys, and immigration practitioners, allowed to offer immigration consulting services. However, this changed with the abolition of section 46 of the Immigration Act, leaving the industry unprotected.
In this open market, anyone can claim to be knowledgeable in immigration matters. To ensure that you receive reliable assistance, it is advisable to seek out companies or individuals who are registered with a voluntary organisation like FIPSA (Forum of Professional Immigration Practitioners of South Africa).
Membership in such organisations often involves passing a comprehensive test that assesses professional knowledge. Additionally, these organisations can provide a platform for lodging complaints against members who engage in fraudulent activities.
Furthermore, when seeking immigration services, it can be practical to work with professionals who have a legal background or are legally trained.
Immigration is often intertwined with legal arguments and complexities, making legal knowledge valuable in navigating the process effectively. Therefore, choosing a company with a team that includes individuals with legal training can be beneficial.
Immigration Services Across Africa
Zambia, for instance, has a dedicated group of professionals who must register to offer immigration services, creating a protected market.
Australia, New Zealand, and the UK have rigorous examination requirements and professional training.
However, in many other African countries, the immigration industry is unprotected, resulting in low thresholds for entry. This can lead to concerns, as some immigration company may not deliver as promised or may engage in fraudulent activities, as highlighted in Namibia and East Africa.
In conclusion, the requirement to be registered immigration lawyer in South Africa and other African countries is not a strict legal requirement. However, the absence of regulatory safeguards in these regions can pose challenges for individuals and businesses seeking reliable immigration services.
When choosing an immigration lawyer, it is essential to consider factors such as professional memberships, legal backgrounds, and the track record of the immigration company to ensure a smoother immigration process.
In a world where mobility and globalisation are increasingly common, understanding the role of immigration lawyers and immigration companies can make a significant difference in achieving your immigration goals while avoiding potential pitfalls.
Written by Simon Carletti, PR and Creative Supervisor