CHINESE CORPORATES IN SOUTH AFRICA: CORPORATE VISA KEY FOR EMPLOYING LARGE GROUPS OF EXPATS ON PROJECTS

South Africa is known to be the economic powerhouse of the continent attracting investment and has acknowledged that such investment is necessary to support the country’s growth and development objectives. China has proven to be one of top investors into South Africa, building a strong trade relationship with a major focus in the mining sector.

China imports roughly $4bn worth of minerals, ores, and metals every month according to data from Trading Economics and 85% of South African exports to China are precious metals and minerals. The South African Immigration Act plays a massive role in facilitating this foreign investment by allowing the employment of foreign labour and enabling the entry of exceptionally skilled or qualified people from China. This includes large groups of resources required to support project from construction to energy, natural resources to manufacturing.

The Corporate visa is the best and most efficient approach for Chinese corporate companies to follow as it addresses the group of expatriates, rather than attending to each application individually. It is issued to a South African registered company or branch and offers the possibility to employ great numbers of employees from abroad, all under the scope of one application. The process includes, applying to the Department of Labour and the Department of Trade and Industry respectively to support the application.  The assessment by these departments includes taking into consideration the contributions  that the company has made to the community, the number of South African employees and other motivations that you may provide which will be used to support the application. Upon completion of this process, the application is then submitted to the Department of Home Affairs for final approval and issuing of the Corporate Visas.

The law clearly places responsibility on the employer to comply with the relevant legislation and thus holds the employer liable for non-compliance. The employer is responsible to ensure that they, as an organisation, adhere to the regulations and legislation when employing a foreign national as per the Immigration Act of 2002, as amended (The Act).

The Act in Section 38 stipulates as follows –

“No person shall employ –

  1. An illegal foreigner;
  2. A foreigner whose status does not authorise him or her to be employed by such person; or
  3. A foreigner on terms, conditions or in a capacity different from those contemplated in such foreigner’s status.”

A Corporate visa helps companies to manage their workforce and staffing needs and the visa is issued for a period not exceeding three years. Once the Corporate visa has been obtained, the individual candidates may then proceed to apply for their visas endorsed in each employee’s passport. Individuals who are currently in possession of a valid temporary residence visa (not visitor’s visa), may apply in South Africa at the nearest VFS and those who do not have a visa, will be required to apply in their home country at the South African High Commission or Embassy.