New SA visa rules put TV, film industry in limbo

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South Africa’s fast-growing movie industry hangs in the balance after the Department of Home Affairs introduced new visa and immigration regulations.

 

The new travel regulations took effect more than a week ago, despite concerns that tourism could be hurt severely.

 

As for the television and film industry, over 35 000 jobs are at stake as the new rules state that agents of actors are no longer allowed to apply for visas and that the actors themselves have to do it.

 

Under the regulations, if a film production is delayed for any reason or is longer than three months, then the visa cannot be extended or renewed in SA.

 

“It’ll be almost impossible for foreign models — who are an integral part of talent offering to clients — who will be affected negatively and are not able to meet the required new requirements,” Alex Smith, a director of movie house, Africa Today Magic based in Johannesburg, told Xinhua on Friday.

 

In Cape Town, a hub for film making, the television and movie industry will feel the heat by the introduction of the regulations. The city is requesting an engagement with the Department of Home Affairs to reconsider the new rules.
“The film industry is likely to feel the effects in the next few months as foreign movie players will shun coming to work in the country for film production,” Johannesburg based immigration lawyer, Thompson Day said.

The new regulations make doing business difficult, prohibiting foreign actors and film crews from changing their visa status in South Africa.

 

The regulations further stipulate that visa applications must be made in person and in the individual’s home country.

This is an administrative burden and will make international filmmakers think twice before choosing Cape Town for shoots, thus placing this lucrative industry in jeopardy.

“Home Affairs should not have a blanket regulation. For the benefit of film makers. It (Home Affairs Department) has to revise its regulations,” said Day.

He believed that the only way to fix the issues, film professionals have to challenge the regulations in court.

The South African film industry has over the past three years created more than 35 000 jobs and contributed about $416 million to the economy, according to Day.

 

Meanwhile, the Department of Home Affairs has agreed to engage companies on the effect of the new visa and immigration regulations.

South Africa’s film industry has more than trebled its contribution to the GDP to about $666 million between 2008 and 2012, up from about $200 million over the previous four years. — Xinhua.

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