29 October 2021 Volume :9 Issue :46

UKZN hosts Immigration Implication Webinar for International Students

UKZN hosts Immigration Implication Webinar for International Students
Mr Phindiwe Mbhele.

UKZN’s Corporate Relations Division (CRD) hosted a webinar on the immigration implications for international students under South African lockdown.

Ms Nombuso Mtshali, Head: International Student Support Office welcomed staff and students and officially opened the webinar, which was attended by staff and students from all universities in South Africa.

The objective of the webinar was to clarify immigration uncertainties associated with the COVID-19 pandemic; the webinar enabled staff and students to ask questions throughout the event on visa-related issues.

Mr Phindiwe Mbhele, the Director: Corporate Accounts at the Department of Home Affairs and the speaker for the event noted how his Department has issued various operational directions during the different levels of lockdown and highlighted the last message issued which indicated that visa concessions and applications would end on 30 September 2021.

Some of the Q & A’s discussed at the webinar included:

Q-The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all sectors of the economy and employees have been working remotely without any form of delay, so why have visas not been released on time?
A-Home Affairs permitting cannot be done remotely due to the high levels of security required for it, so work is limited to our offices. Currently, we are working at 50% capacity due to the COVID-19 pandemic which is why visa applications have been delayed.

Q-What steps do you follow after your visa application has been rejected?
A-If you dispute the decision made then you must apply for an appeal within 10 days, the guidelines for the appeal are at the bottom of your rejection letter.

Q-Are police clearance certificates still required for visa applications?
A-The Department of Home Affairs no longer requires police clearance certificates when applying. We use the student fingerprints taken at Visa Facilitation Services (VFS) and run that against the police database to find out if you have any criminal records.

Q-Can you travel or leave the country with an expired visa?
A-A person that departs South Africa with an expired visa is deemed as undesirable.You are not forced to stay in South Africa against your own will, you can leave if you desire to do so, but a penalty of undesirability will be applied.

Q-Can you renew your one-year critical skills visa if you are unable to secure employment during that time?
A- The visa is only valid for 12 months and cannot be renewed.

Q-Are foreign medical aids accepted?
A-Foreign medical aids are not accepted by law. A South African medical aid is a requirement for a student visa and the university is obligated to make sure that is followed.

Q-Do banks accept VFS receipts?
A- In terms of the law banks are only allowed to accept visas and not receipts. A receipt can only be allowed by the Department of Home Affairs in extreme circumstances.

Q-Can universities verify study visas?
A-Institutions or individuals cannot verify visas but they can send a request to the Department of Home Affairs along with a copy of the visa to check if it is valid at: visaverfications@dha.gov.za

In closing, Ms Normah Zondo, Executive Director: CRD thanked everyone present and her team for making the event possible. She also warmly thanked Mbhele for always availing himself and for being a source of information for the UKZN community.

To watch the webinar click here.

Words: Hlengiwe Khwela

Photograph: Supplied

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