THE process of obtaining entry visas or short term work permits to serve the various industries settled in the Erongo Region has been made much easier with the establishment of Immigration Selection Board committee in Walvis Bay.
The Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration not only introduced the satellite committee that will henceforth sit in decision on the approval of special work permits but also introduced a revised visa and permit regime to ensure that doing business in Namibia can occur almost seamlessly.
The Deputy Minister of Home Affairs and Immigration, Maureen Hinda-Mbuende officiated at the inauguration of the new ISB committee and said resolution reached at the Economic Growth Summit at the end of July this year is now being implemented.
“Cabinet directed the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration and stakeholders to make concerted efforts to implement the following recommendations regarding visas and residence permits regulations to ensure improved acquisition thereof, in order to boost the local economic growth.”
The measures include the Introduction of e-visa or visa at entry point at a low nominal fee; the provision of easy access for work visa for highly-skilled professionals and potential investors; the provision of easy access for residence visa for foreign pensioners; to offer residence visas on the back of capital investment with a to-be-defined threshold; and to allow business people with already established businesses in Namibia multiple entry visas valid for five years.
Hinda Mbuende said the ministry found that most of the urgent applications for short term employment permits originated from the Erongo Region, particularly from fishing industry and oil rigs needing repairs as well as from the mining operations.
“Not to stifle the operations of our industry when emergencies occur, it has been decided to establish the ISB committee at this office to provide services when needed.”
The deputy minister said the world today is experiencing a significant paradigm shift in the area of migration. Traditionally, migration had been seen as a security field that was left to those concerned with it.
“This view is changing and migration policies and practices are now used to aid and support the economies of many countries. This is also the reason why our migration rules and regulations will be continuously undergoing reforms to reflect current realities and serve as a development and economic growth enabler.”
She said Namibia is not alone in trying to exploit migration for development. The integration of migration in the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda in 2015 constituted a major milestone in advancing a holistic view on migration and migrants. According to the Hinda-Mbuende a number of targets under the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) cannot be fully achieved if migrants and migration are not adequately considered in the development policies of Namibia.
She indicated that a new National Migration Policy (NMP) is currently being drafted which would mean that better clarity on matters of migration management would be available once it is adopted.
“The ISB committee has a responsibility to provide service. But the members individually and collectively remain responsible to ensure that only skills that are not available in Namibia are imported.”
Hinda Mbuende was of the opinion that industries also have a responsibility to ensure that they create a critical mass of a skilled labour force so that more Namibians can be employed.
“The time has come for us to discard our previously held solo mentality and think about the country as a whole if we are to succeed as a nation.”
Upon the introduction of the new ISB committee the Executive Director of the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration, Etienne Maritz said by relaxing certain critical entry requirements the ministry acted proactively to address the industry driven need in the region.
“The decision to establish an Immigration Selection Board in the Erongo will definitely lighten the load of the main board that sits in Windhoek every week. The staff locally in Walvis Bay knows the local conditions and needs which means that the process will be sped up especially when it comes to the fishing, the maritime and the mining industries,” Maritz said.
The new Immigration Selection Board committee members are Jona Kamati, Beatha Amadhila, Uakumbrua Kamatundu, Salome Amukalu, Emmanuel Samuel and Frans Daniel. The member s of the ISB committee are employed by the home affairs ministry, the labour ministry, defence ministry and the safety and security ministry.