A bill that seeks to sanction foreigners who overstay the expiry date of their visas in the country, has been approved by the National Assembly. The Immigration Amendment bill was presented on Thursday by home affairs committee chairperson Lemias Mashile.
The new amendments make it clear that foreigners who stay in the country past the expiry date of their visas will not qualify for a port of entry visa, a visa, admission into the Republic or a permanent residence permit during the relevant prescribed period. Those who overstay will be declared undesirable.
Mashile said because Home Affairs now fell under the security cluster, more stringent measures were necessary.
“All activities of this department have to pass security risk. It is for this reason that the portfolio committee resolved to remove the risk posed by foreigners who overstay past the expiry dates of visas,” he said.
He said in the past the regime provided for penalty fees, which proved inefficient. Mashile said the amendment would apply to first offenders, and they would face the sanctions.
“Repeat overstayers would graduate to banishment for a specified period. We believe these provisions will help the department manage the flow of foreigners into the country and ensure their security,” he said.
The committee bill has now been referred to the National Council of Provinces for concurrence. The Democratic Alliance said they were satisfied that the matters of concern they had raised during deliberations had been brought up.