The responsibilities of South African schools with foreign learners

South African schools and their responsibilities related to foreign learnersAre you the principal of a South African school with foreign learners? Or perhaps the admissions manager? Do know what your school’s responsibilities are in this regard?

It is important that you do.

Any school unfamiliar with all of their responsibilities as per South Africa’s Immigration Act might find itself on the wrong side of the law!

Responsibilities upon acceptance and registration at the school

When a learner is accepted, or provisionally accepted at the school, the school must issue an official letter to the learner confirming:

  • The provisional acceptance or acceptance of that learning institution; and
  • The duration of the study period.

Thereafter, an undertaking by the school must be made to:

  • Provide proof of registration as contemplated in the relevant legislation within 60 days of registration.
  • In the event of failure to register by the closing date, provide the Director-General with a notification of failure to register within 7 days of the closing date of registration.
  • Within 30 days of de-registration, notify the Director-General that the applicant is no longer registered with such institution; and
  • Within 30 days of completion of studies, notify the Director-General when the learner has completed his or her studies or requires to extend such period of study.

Ongoing requirements

Schools with foreign learners are responsible for ensuring that these learners hold legal status in South Africa at all times. This means each foreign child must have:

  • A valid passport; and
  • A valid visa, which has been issued specifically for studying, or a valid permit.

The school must also review these documents when an application for a place is made, to ascertain the child’s current visa or residency status.

The Director-General must be notified whenever:

  • A foreign learner is found to be illegal; or
  • The school is unable to ascertain the status of a foreign learner.

Why must a school ensure that a foreign child is legal?

The school must ascertain the status of foreigners to satisfy Section 38 of the Immigration Act that states:

No learning institution shall knowingly provide training or instruction to:

  • An illegal foreigner;
  • A foreigner whose status does not authorise him or her to receive such training or instruction by such person; or
  • A foreigner on terms or conditions or in a capacity different from those contemplated in such foreigner’s status.

If an illegal foreigner is found on any premises where instruction or training is provided, it shall be presumed that such foreigner was receiving instruction or training from, or allowed to receive instruction or training by, the person who has control over such premises, unless prima facie evidence to the contrary is adduced.

Documents to keep on file

Schools must be able to show the status of foreign learners at any time. As such, the Act requires that schools must keep on files copies of:

  • Valid passports; and
  • Valid visas or permits of foreign learners.

Ask us for help should you need assistance

Our team of immigration experts has assisted many schools across the country to honour their legal responsibilities and remain in compliance with South Africa’s Immigration Act.

We can do the same for your school. All you have to do is call us on either +27 (0) 21 424 2460 or +27 (0) 11 234 4275.

Our team is set up in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Contact us to arrange a meeting.

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