The department is mandated to manage migration to and from the country for security, good governance and fulfillment of international obligations. The department is charged with border control and facilitation of acquisition of Lesotho citizenship, issuance of visas and issuance of residence permits as well as Refugee Asylum. The department also deals with Migration Coordination, which encompasses movement of people as well as their residence in Lesotho. It also deals with forced migration and internal displacement. This migration coordination component is coordinated under this department as well as Passport Services and Refugee Coordinating Unit. There are Immigration Services offices throughout the country.
Over the years Lesotho visas were issued manually mainly at the Ministry’s headquarters and in missions abroad. This manual system brought about differing challenges, inter alia inaccessibility and security threat issues. Consequently, the number of applications per month were relatively low. Currently, there are only two kinds of visas: single entry meant for single journey and valid for three months and multiple entry meant for multiple journeys and valid for six months. In May 2017, when the Department engaged the service provider to process the online visas on its behalf; However, the adjudication remains with the Ministry.
Residence Permits Issuance
The Department of Immigration Services is also mandated to regularize the non- citizens residing in the country for various purposes. This is done by issuing the residence permits to non- citizens. These permits were also administered manually until November 2018 when the Department engaged the service provider to process the online visas on behalf of the Department of Immigration Services.
Types of Residence Permits:
• Temporary permit for 90 days
• Two years residence permit for 2 years
• Study permit for 4 years
• Indefinite Permit.
Categories of Residence Permits:
• Missionaries permit
• Business permit
• Joining relative permit
• Spouse joining spouse permit
• Returning former citizens
• Doctors and nurses permit
• Teachers permit.
Non-Basotho citizens who have been residing lawfully in Lesotho for 5 or more years are legible to apply for Lesotho citizenship. Previously the constitution of Lesotho did not allow dual citizenship. But, in 2018 that Clause from the Constitution was successfully amended. This means that applicants do not have to renounce their original citizen to acquire Lesotho citizenship. For more information refer to the 8th Amendment to the Constitution Act, 2018.
There has been an enactment of the 8th Amendment to the Constitution of Lesotho on the 22th December 2018.
This Act provides for similar requirements for non-citizens who marry Lesotho citizens; allows dual citizenship and provides for restoration of Lesotho citizenship for Basotho who had lost such by virtue of prohibition of dual citizenship.
Border Control and Management
There are 14 border posts in total and all of them are with South Africa. Some are not manned on Lesotho side. The flow on all these borders is different depending on the area that the border post is located.
LIST OF BORDER POSTS IN LESOTHO
|BORDER NAME||DISTRICT||NORMAL OPERATING HOURS- GMT +2 HRS.||PEAK SEASONS OPERATING HOURS|
Change of hours depends on festive seasons
|Monontša||Botha-Bothe||08.00 – 16.00 Hrs.|
|Peka||Leribe||08.00 – 16.00 Hrs|
|Moshoeshoe I International Airport||Maseru||06.00 – 18.00 Hrs.|
|Van Royeen’s Gate||Mafeteng||06.00 – 22.00 Hrs|
|Makhaleng||Mohale’s Hoek||08.00 – 16.00 Hrs.|
|Sephapho||Mohale’s Hoek||08.00 – 16.00 Hrs|
|Qacha’snek||Qacha’s Nek||07.00 – 20.00 Hrs.|
|Sani Pass||Mokhotlong||06.00 – 18.00 Hrs.|
Maseru and Maputsoe bridges are the busiest and the most congested. This is because they are situated in city centers. These borders become very congested during peak seasons posing a challenge of slow-moving queues. The worst scenario was experienced at Maseru bridge that urged the two governments to refurbish this border on both sides.
• Construction of pedestrian channel
• Construction of drive through
• Additional service points
• Sterility of the border area
• Access control
• Additional staff
• Clear Signages
• Scanning all the passports for persons crossing the including those for Basotho.
• Construction of green lane meant for special categories
• Introduction of non -stamping categories
• Non biometric taking for diplomats
• Special queue for LSP holders and mine workers.
THE DEPARTMENT’S LEGISLATION, CONVENTIONS AND AGREEMENTS
Current Immigration legislation developed and administered by the Ministry
|1.Aliens Control Act, 1966||-The Act regulates entry into, stay in and departure from Lesotho. It provides for fees and procedures for issuance of Visas and residence permits.
– It gives the Minister the power to appoint ports of entry and departures.
– The law further gives Immigration Officers the power to deny persons who violate this law permission to enter Lesotho; to detain any person whom they have suspicion and the power to expel any unwanted person in Lesotho.
|2. Aliens Control Regulations, 1968||– They implement the Aliens Control Act, 1966; they provide the forms used, and other requirements needed for the execution of this law.|
|3.Lesotho Citizenship Order, 1971||– Lesotho Citizenship Order, 1971 regulates citizenship matters in accordance with provisions of the Constitution. It provides for naturalisation and registration of non-citizens and stateless persons as Lesotho citizens|
|4. Lesotho Citizenship (Amendment) Order, 1989||– This Act amended the 1971 Act by inserting that the person shall not become a citizen of Lesotho if at the time of his birth neither of his parents is a citizen of Lesotho, or unless he would thereby become stateless, amongst others.|
|5. Aliens Control (Amendment of Schedule) Regulations, 2018||– These Regulations provides for fees for the issuance of various categories of visas and residence permits|
|6. Aliens Control Act, 1966 Notification of Ports of Entry and Departure for Lesotho||– The Gazette appoints Ports of entry and departure in Lesotho. Some are designated while others are not.|
|7. Eighth Amendment to the Constitution Act, 2018.||– The Act amends the Constitution of Lesotho to provide for similar requirements for non-citizens who marry Lesotho citizens; to allow dual citizenship and to provide for restoration of Lesotho citizenship for Basotho who lost it by virtue of prohibition of dual citizenship.|
1 .The Aliens Control Act, 1966 – Appointment of Authorised Officer Government Notice No.55 of 1968
1. The Eighth Amendment to the Constitution Bill, 2018
2. Immigration and CitizenshipBill, 2018
3. National Identity Cards (Amendment) Bill, 2018
4. Registrationof Births and Deaths Bill, 2018
Other key Migration-Related Legislation:
1. Lesotho Constitution, 1993
2. Lesotho Customsand Excise Act, 1982
3. Lesotho Anti-Corruption Act, 1999
4. Lesotho Labor Code Order, 1992
5. Penal Code Act, 2010
6. Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act, 2008.
Current Treaties, Conventions and Agreements:
1. Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 1963.
2. International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, 1965.
3. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966.
4. Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, 1951.
5. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, 1979.
6. Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, 1984.
7. Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989.
8. International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, 1990.
9. Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations, 1946.
10. Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, 2000.
11. Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea, and Air, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, 2000.
12. ILO Convention 143 on Migrant Workers, 1975.
13. UN Declaration on the Human Rights of Individuals Who Are Not Nationals of the Country in Which They Live, 1985.
14. The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention)
15. Convention on the Nationalityof Married Women
16. Convention on Certain Questions Relating to the Conflict of NationalityLaws, 1930.
17. Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, 1961.
18. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (art. 18)
1. African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, 1981.
2. SADC Protocol on Facilitation of Free Movement, 2005.
3. African UnionStrategic Framework on International Migration.
4. African UnionCommon Position on Migration and Development 2006.
5. African UnionProtocol on Free Movement, 2018.
6. 1969 Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa.
7. 1991 Abuja Treaty.
8. African UnionMigration Policy Framework, 2006.
9. African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.
10. Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol) (Art. 6(g) and 6(h)).
11. African UnionConvention on Cross-Border Cooperation (Niamey Convention), 2014.
12. Declaration on the African UnionBorder Programme and Measures for its Consolidation, 6 Oct. 2016.
13. Agreement between the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho and the Government of the Republic of South Africa on the Establishment of a Joint Bilateral Commission of Cooperation(JBCC), 2001.
1.Draft African Union Strategy for Enhancing Border Management in Africa, 2015.