In this article: (Click on the topic to jump to the relevant section)
- PR and CSV Applications Submitted before 1st February
- New Job Titles and OFO Descriptions
- NQF Level Changes and SAQA Certification
- Registration with Professional Bodies
- Effects on Permanent Residence Applications
- How IBN Immigration Solutions can assist your company during transition
What are the changes to the Critical Skills List and how will they affect me and my assignees?
South Africa’s new Critical Skills List came into effect on 2 February 2022. Around 70 roles were removed from the list and new roles were added.
From previous experience with law changes in South Africa, we know that the new laws do not always make practical sense and that there will be some uncertainty during the transition period. There may be obstacles during application with the DHA and their interpretations of the new roles but at IBN Immigration Solutions, we’re working hard to gain clarity on any “grey” areas of the new legislation.
If your assignee has submitted their visa or permanent residency application before the 1st of February 2022, their application will still be assessed under the old list of 2014 and all directives will still be applicable. If the assignee’s application is unsuccessful and there are legal grounds for appeal, the application can be re-assessed based on the 2014 list and requirements.
The new Critical Skills List identifies specific descriptions for each job role, clearly defining the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) expectations for every job title. The descriptions are in-line with the guidelines determined within the Organising Framework for Occupations (OFO).
We advise that companies and assignees review the updated list to check which categories are still applicable to your assignees. Your assignee’s job title might not appear on the new list, however, review the job descriptions on the new list. Their role may just fall under a new title, therefore, application for a Critical Skills Visa and eventually, permanent residence, may still be possible.
If you are about to apply for a Critical Skills Visa in compliance with the new list, your job title, description and employment contract should be updated to match what is detailed on the new list.
During the transitional phase, where employers may still have assignees on Critical Skills Visas complying with the old list, who want to renew or apply for permanent residence, the assignee must apply in compliance with the new list.
If your role was not carried over to the new list, you may not be eligible for permanent residence. Please scroll down for more on transitioning from a Critical Skills Visa to permanent residence.
The DHA has also implemented a minimum qualification; depending on the category, various NQF levels apply. In some categories, the NQF level has been raised as high as level 8.
For applicants with foreign qualifications, this NQF level will be confirmed on their SAQA Certificate, which is still a requirement as per the regulations.
For applicants who hold South African qualifications, this NQF level will be confirmed on their transcripts.
For most categories, the DHA has listed the necessary professional bodies that the assignee needs to be registered with.
Where the DHA has not specified a preferred body, assignees must ensure that they are registered with the applicable body in-line with their qualifications and job title. The assignee needs to ensure that they register with a body recognised by SAQA. Assignees may use this SAQA link to check the status of professional bodies or to search for a relevant body in their field.
Directive 22 of 2014 which previously allowed assignees to submit applications with only the proof of registration with professional bodies, and not the letter of confirmation of skills, has been revoked by the DHA.
Each professional body determines separate internal requirements for issuance of the confirmation letter of skills and qualification. In general, assignees need to have at least a minimum of two years of work experience to be eligible. Assignees and SA graduates that do not yet have the relevant experience cannot comply with the new conditions.
Assignees who have received their temporary visa under the previous list and still fall under the current list, may still apply for permanent residence if they meet all the necessary criteria.
For those who are no longer on the list, other avenues for permanent residence may still be possible.
A ministerial waiver (2016) previously allowed assignees who graduated in one of the critical skills list fields from a recognised SA Higher Education Institute to immediately apply for permanent residence based on their studies alone. However, the DHA recently revoked this waiver. Any assignee who falls under the new list will now have to comply with the new requirements for temporary and permanent residence to apply.
The assignee must have at least five years (60 months) of post-qualification experience in the field of the Critical Skills category they are applying under to qualify for permanent residence. The DHA requires proof (validated reference letters) from previous or current employers. Reference letters must be validated either by MIE or Sterling Check.
We encourage corporates who employ foreign nationals (not just on Critical Skills Visas) to ensure that all employees are on the correct visa according to the Immigration Act and Regulations. If you wish for IBN to assist with an internal audit on an employee’s visa status and confirm future renewal options, get in touch with your consultant today.
Read this authoritative interview featuring our CEO on the far-reaching effects of the changes to the Critical Skills List and its accompanying requirements.
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Compiled by Noelinda Bester and Lauren Daniels