ISSUE 06 | 2015

Support Implementation of New Immigration Regulations

 

Dear Colleagues,

You will know that as of 1 June 2015, we implemented in full the new immigration regulations, with the requirements for travelling with children coming into force. The rest of the immigration regulations as well as the amendment acts of 2007 and 2011 came into operation last year.

As we said at the time, the changes were meant to ensure improved management of immigration in a way that balances South Africa’s openness to travellers with development and security imperatives. There were clear indicators for growth in international migration, noted also in the National Development Plan, thus the need to put even more attention to the work we do together in this area.

With regard to the new requirements for children travelling through our ports of entry, a grace period was granted until 1 June for all to prepare, by, among others, applying for additional documents like unabridged birth certificates or equivalent documents in lieu of the unabridged birth certificates and consent affidavits.

Contrary to belief in some quarters, our Department consulted extensively and engaged stakeholders through various platforms. Some of you were actively involved in these processes wherein we sought buy-in. We did what was necessary for smooth implementation. To our credit as a Department striving for professionalization and service excellence, we managed to reduce the backlog on issuing of unabridged birth certificates, such that before 1 June we had only less than 800 applications to clear.

It is appropriate therefore to thank all our officials who did much to advance the state of readiness in this regard. The changes we are introducing are in the best interest of all of us as they seek to protect, project and promote what is in the best interests of our children and

country. They are intended expressly to establish the principle that all children require consent of their parents when travelling into or out of the Republic, as is required by the Children’s Act 38 of 2005.

It is in this context that I found it even more symbolic that these requirements came into operation during Child Protection Week. Protecting children is paramount. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reported in The Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2014 that we continue to see an increase in the number of detected child victims, particularly girls under 18, with most detected trafficking victims being subjected to sexual exploitation. The UNODC went further to call upon governments “to send a clear signal that human trafficking will not be tolerated.”

We should not forget that indicating permission or legal authority to have a child in one’s care is international practice, therefore not unique to South Africa.

We count among the countries applying similar rules in regulating travelling with children the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Schengen countries like France, Germany, Italy and Spain. Even the United States Customs and Border Protection strongly recommends where a child is not travelling with both parents, that the travelling parent or guardian should have a note showing parental consent.

Let us remind ourselves. These new requirements will apply to South African children under 18 upon leaving the Republic, and children who are foreign nationals and who are visa exempt when travelling through ports of entry of the Republic. Children who apply for a South African visa at any mission or VFS service-point will have to submit the required additional documents, such as the unabridged birth certificates.

When both parents travel through an SA port of entry accompanied by one or more of their children they should produce valid passports and an unabridged birth certificate or equivalent document for each child travelling. An ‘equivalent document’ is any official document, be it an identity document or passport issued by the relevant authority of any country, a letter issued by a foreign government or a letter issued by our DG recording the identity of the parents of a child in lieu of an unabridged birth certificate.

Where only one parent is travelling with a child or children, he/she should produce for each child travelling a valid passport, an unabridged birth certificate or equivalent document and a parental consent affidavit from the non-travelling parent whose details are recorded on the unabridged birth certificate or equivalent document.

An unaccompanied child should produce a valid passport, an unabridged birth certificate or equivalent document, parental consent affidavit, letter from the person who is to receive him/her in the Republic containing such person’s residential and work address and full contact details in the Republic, a copy of the identity document or valid passport and visa or permanent residence permit of the person who is to receive the child in the Republic.

Where a person travels with a child who is not his/her biological child, the child needs a valid passport, an unabridged birth certificate or equivalent document and parental consent affidavit. This applies also to children travelling with school groups. One of these documents may be presented in the absence of a parental consent affidavit: court order granting full parental responsibilities and rights or full legal guardianship of the child exclusively to the travelling parent; court order granted in terms of section 18(5) of the Children’s Act 2005 or a death certificate of the deceased parent.

Where only one parent’s particulars appear on the unabridged birth certificate or equivalent document no parental consent affidavit will be required. In case of divorce, where custody of a child is shared, parental consent by both parents will be required. Where any parent recorded in an unabridged birth certificate or equivalent document is unable to consent to the travel by a child due to recent death, or mental/physical disability, persons acting on behalf of the child/children may apply for a special dispensation in lieu of the parental consent affidavit.

Children who travelled before 1 June are not required to produce these documents on returning. No supporting documents will be required for children in direct transit at an international airport. Also, children in possession of valid SA visas will not be required to produce these documents. In the case of countries endorsing particulars of parents in children’s passports, or other official identification documents, these documents will be acceptable for the purpose of establishing the identity of parents of the travelling child.

Our doors remain open for engagement with stakeholders, and I would like staff to assist in making this message quite clear to all our people. Be our Ambassadors! But Once more, thank you for all the work you have done in support of the full implementation of the immigration amendments and the new immigration regulations. Familiarise yourself with the changes we’re making, much needs to be done to carry these tasks forward in our quest to create a better life for all our people. Success rests on our shoulders as the people of Home Affairs – Baetapele.

 

Sincerely,

Malusi Gigaba
Minister of Home Affairs