A South African government agency that provides the technology needed to print visas at passport offices may soon be able to put working visas on thousands of foreign workers’ passports.
The public order portfolio committee of the South African parliament is debating the immigration minister, Nomvula Mokonyane’s, latest proposals to update policies.
In her proposals, the minister points out that even as tighter security measures implemented after the terror attacks in Brussels and Nice emerged, an increasing number of people with working visas arrived at South African ports of entry.
“It is useful to stress that with the benefit of hindsight and since the events of February and March, 21, 2016, a number of employers stated their intent to employ foreign workers with Visas and Visas Card VOPL,” Mokonyane says.
The commissioner for immigration and national security, Phumla Williams, has called for her organization to be allowed to print working visas on passports so that there will be no requirement for travelers to carry them in foreign passports.
“In their simplest terms, passports are simply blank books, filled with data,” Mokonyane states. “Accordingly, it is considered that the printed [Visa and Visas] VOPL and other details that are produced through the mobile application, based on all authorized digital requirements and necessary protocol, could assist them in recording their information and process passport entry entry into SA.”
The proposal is being closely watched by South African members of parliament, who are starting to insist that the passports’ unique biometric features be retained once a working visa expires.
For years, the government has held on to the technology needed to print only one-way passports from the embassy. State officials and leading companies have argued that the machines would cost an estimated R350 million (US$26 million) to update, and would therefore be an unnecessary luxury.
The public order committee is making its recommendations over a month before the government must decide on ways to replace its visa databases. The plan to switch to biometric passports and devices has been signed off by President Cyril Ramaphosa, a government spokesman told The Verge.
Votes are expected to be passed on the proposal to opt for biometric passports, and only vote on the plan to switch to biometric passports without permanent residency or work permits, which will likely be the toughest to pass. Voting on the specific proposal to change passports is not scheduled, but Mokonyane told the committee that the department had proposed that printed VOPL cards also be able to be converted into printed passports once the VISA and Visas Card system had been fitted in South Africa.
Read the full article on The Verge.
8 E-traveling pieces of advice for frequent fliers
How not to ruin a business trip with bad connectivity
We spoke to a tech company that has completely eliminated Visa fees, and they didn’t disappoint