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'Stop block on foreigners'

25 January 2016 - 02:04 By Graeme Hosken

Thousands of foreign entrepreneurs would flock into the country - if only they could. But mudslinging between government and immigration firms over bureaucracy and alleged profiteering are hindering the influx of immigrants, many of whom have critical skills.The alleged blocking of immigrants must be balanced with the , country's interests, the government says.The immigration policies imposed by the South African government at the end of 2014 have drawn sharp criticism. But the government says it is targeting dodgy immigration lawyers.For years immigration firms have cried foul over issues, such as immigrants wanting to open businesses in South Africa having to have R5-million and 60% of their staff having to be South Africans.They are also upset about the department's critical skills visa list.Tracy du Plessis, Forum of Immigration Practioners vice-chairman, said the 2014 amended immigration Act made it difficult for foreign nationals to work in the country.There is no communication on recommendations for a business visa applicant until after the application is made."The department's reasoning is to stop fraud," Du Plessis said.Immigration expert Leon Isaacson of Global Migration SA said there were inconsistencies in processing visas, especially critical skills visas."The list was drawn up in haste. Professions, such as maths and science teachers, which the country has a 60000 to 80000 shortfall of, are not included."Bjorn van Niekerk, Integrated-Immigration director, said sections of the immigration legislation needed reviewing."There are serious barriers, including the massive increase in incorrect adjudications and baseless rejections."Home Affairs spokesman Mayihlome Tshwete said "middle-men" were misinterpreting policies aimed at assisting immigrants."There is a lot of corruption. We have lawyers under investigation. In the past people came to establish phantom companies, sometimes to launder money. We had to change our policies."Thousands of South Africans living in the UK face deportation. In April, the UK is set to pass an immigration regulation affecting millions of non-EU state immigrants. Those affected are likely to be semi-skilled workers earning less £35000 annually...

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