May 29, 2013

The South African federal legislature and the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) continues to finalize the implementation of those amendments found in the Immigration Amendment Act 13 of 2011 (“the Act”). In part, these changes will amend several details of the popular Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) Work Permit both to extend the maximum duration of stay from 24 months to 48 months, and to specify exit and renewal requirements for ICT permit holders.

Please note that while the Act was promulgated in 2011, the official regulations and practical implementations of these amendments have not yet been published.

What’s Changed?

The South African ICT permit is one of the most common work authorizations sought by multinational companies for their employees. Currently, the permit’s duration is capped at a maximum of 24 months after which the employee is eligible to apply for further work authorization under the General Work permit application stream.

The upcoming changes, while not official at the time of this writing, are anticipated to extend the maximum duration of the ICT permit to 48 months, giving employers even more flexibility when arranging for international assignments to South Africa. Please note that the DHA will still retain the authority to grant work permits validities as they deem most appropriate for each assignment.

In addition, the South African authorities have also discussed the possibility of requiring ICT permit holders to exit South Africa upon the expiration of their work permits before being eligible to apply for work authorization under the General Work Permit application stream. Although still in discussion, this would affect the procedures and case strategies for employers seeking to extend an employee’s work assignment in South Africa beyond the initial ICT permit duration.

ACTION ITEMS FOR EMPLOYERS

Employers should continue to monitor the implementation of these major changes to the South African ICT Work Permit as it may affect assignment duration and details, renewal possibilities and procedures, as well as the long-term permanent residence path for foreign nationals. Once implemented, however, the extended maximum duration of the ICT will give employers many more options for assignment parameters and goals for their foreign nationals working in South Africa.

Employers should also note that there may be some changes and transitional measures put into place for those employees who hold an ICT permit when the official Regulations are announced. In other words, some assignees may be able to change status in-country to the General work permit stream. This option would be especially relevant to those ICT permit holders who need to remain in South Africa for longer than the initial 24 months of their work permits. However, neither the application details nor the protocols for this potential change of status have yet been officially announced. Please work with your Pro-Link GLOBAL Immigration Specialist or South African immigration provider if you have an employee that may fit into this category.

Finally, as this is an ongoing change in South Africa, Pro-Link GLOBAL will continue to provide you with updates as they are made known by the authorities.

Caveat Lector | Warning to Reader

This is provided as informational only and does not substitute for actual legal advice based on the specific circumstances of a matter. Readers are reminded that Immigration laws are fluid and can change a moment’s notice without any warning. Please reach out to your local Pro-Link GLOBAL specialist should you require any additional clarification. This alert was prepared by SooHyung Smit, Coordinator, Knowledge Management. Pro-Link GLOBAL gives special thanks to our PLG | ISP Correspondent Office, Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr Inc. in South Africa for their guidance and help in providing you with this update.

Information contained in this Global Brief is prepared using information obtained from various media outlets, government publications and our KGNM network of immigration professionals. Written permission from the copyright owner and any other rights holders must be obtained for any reuse of any content posted or published by Pro-Link GLOBAL that extends beyond fair use or other statutory exemptions. Furthermore, responsibility for the determination of the copyright status and securing permission rests with those persons wishing to reuse the materials. Interested parties are welcome to contact the Knowledge Management Department (km@pro-linkglobal.com) with any additional requests for information or to request reproduction of this material.