Further to our Blog from May 8, the Corporate Accounts Unit of the South African Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has published the official Government Gazette opening the application period for sponsoring companies to apply for Corporate Account status with the department. Companies wishing to apply for this status – which provides better application services and shorter processing times – have ten (10) business days from the publication date of the gazette (May 12, 2015) to submit their completed applications.
This gazette publication comes in conjunction with the DHA’s plans to open a Premium Corporate VFS Center located in the Gauteng Investment Centre in the Sandton area of Johannesburg.
Corporate Account Status & Premium Visa Application Services
Seeking to “establish a premium One-Stop-Shop for visa and permit renewals and put in place a shorter, more efficient process for visa applications of foreign nationals employed by corporate companies ,” the Premium Corporate VFS Center will only serve companies who hold a Corporate Account status within the DHA. Visa application processing times through this specialized center are anticipated to be around 2 weeks rather than the standard 6-9 weeks currently seen by sponsoring companies.
If a company is granted the Corporate Account status, there will be no related government fee for the membership .
Qualifying Criteria, Submission Process, and How Pro-Link GLOBAL Can Assist
The gazette, whose full text can be accessed here, outlines both the qualifying criteria for companies to meet and details of the submission process. Utilizing a points-based system to determine which additional companies will qualify for the Corporate Account Status, the DHA will base their decision on the following criteria:
1. The number of visas required in key positions. This will be counted in man-years over the coming three years (20 points);
2. Magnitudes of the incremental capital expenditure (Capex) spend over the coming three years (20 points);
3. National priority/relevance of the visa requested to the development of national infrastructure (20 points);
4. Critical skills component – percentage of visas contained in the notice contemplated in Section 19(4) of the Immigration Act, 2002 (20 points);
5. Transfer of skills – related efforts by the relevant corporate applicant to transfer imported skills to locals (20 points); and
6. Proof that at least 60% of the total staff complement employed in the operations of the business are South Africans or permanent residents employed permanently in various positions (20 points).
Please note, at the time of this writing it remains unclear how many points a sponsoring company will need in order to be approved for this status. Pro-Link GLOBAL and our local South African team is in direct contact with the DHA authorities for further details.
In addition to confirming the adjudication criteria that the DHA will be using in their selections, the Government Gazette also provides further details of the submission and selection process as follows:
1. Completed applications will be submitted via email to the Secretary of the Director: Corporate Account Unit, Mrs. Nomvuzo Vilakazi;
2. Applications must be submitted within ten (10) business days after the publication of the gazette;
3. Applications must be submitted in writing and cannot exceed two (2) A4 pages in length;
4. Applications must be signed by the corporate applicants (companies) or their Human Resources Director;
5. Applications must contain all information specified in the aforementioned Qualifying Criteria;
6. The scored results will be validated by a selected Advisory Committee composing of various Government Departments; and
7. The Department of Home Affairs will make the final selection and the applicants will be advised of the outcome.
Finally, the DHA stipulates that the decision of the Advisory Committee is final and the Department reserves to the right to grant or not to grant a Corporate Account status to any company.
How can Pro-Link GLOBAL Assist?
Pro-Link GLOBAL can assist our clients with all aspects of this application process: from preparing the necessary responses in the required format to filing the application with the Corporate Account Unit of the DHA. Our dedicated team in South Africa works closely with the DHA and will be able to assist with the preparation and submission of the applications.
Please contact your dedicated Client Relations team member as soon as possible should your company be interested in applying for a Corporate Account Status.
ACTION ITEMS FOR EMPLOYERS
Companies who have an established presence in South Africa and who routinely employ foreign nationals within the country are strongly encouraged to consider applying for this status. Approved companies will enjoy much faster visa and permit application services (for both initial and renewal cases) among other benefits.
However, as the application window will close by May 26, 2015 (ten business days after the publication of the gazette), companies will need to decide whether to pursue this status as soon as possible in order to leave sufficient time to prepare and submit the application.
Please reach out to Pro-Link GLOBAL’s dedicated Client Relations Team (ClientServices@pro-linkglobal.com) for more details or to begin this application process.
 Please note, this does not include Pro-Link GLOBAL’s professional fees or pass-through costs for our assistance with any application preparation and/or submission of the same. Please contact your dedicated Pro-Link GLOBAL Client Relations team member to request fees for our assistance with this application process.
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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 Pro-Link GLOBAL’s Knowledge Management team. Pro-Link GLOBAL worked with our PLG | KGNM Correspondent Office in South Africa to provide you this update.
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