Once an application for temporary or permanent residency is submitted, it is up to the Department of Home Affairs (or Embassy, if submitting abroad) to adjudicate and determine whether a visa is approved or rejected.

In terms of section 8(4) and 8(6) of the Immigration Act, an applicant can apply to appeal a rejection of their application. The first rejection is re-determined by the Director General of Home Affairs. If rejected again, then application is reconsidered by the Minister of Home Affairs.

Within South Africa, the process is relatively straight forward. All applications for consideration, including appeals, are done through VFS Global. Once a rejection is received an applicant only has ten working days to book their appointment online and submit their appeal in person at one of the VFS offices. After ten working days VFS will no longer accept an appeal application. If no appointment is available, the applicant must walk-in to VFS and insist their appeal is taken. A reference number is given to the submission and can be tracked online. An appeal outcome can take as little a two months and up to two years to receive.

Submitting an appeal abroad is more difficult. If the country abroad has VFS (such as in the UK) an appeal must be handed in to them. If no VFS (such as in the United States) the appeal must be handed into the embassy. Any form of submission abroad or electronically (as some embassies demand) must be done on a Form 49. The ten working days rule mentioned above still applies. There is no tracking or reference number given to these appeals and they are couriered to the Department of Home Affairs in Pretoria. It is highly likely that these appeals will get lost and will not be adjudicated.

As an applicant only has two opportunities to appeal a rejection it is imperative that all legal and substantive issues are canvassed accordingly so that they aren’t rejected again. If an applicant has received their final rejection from the Minister of Home Affairs, the applicant must leave the country (and face an overstay) or apply to the High Court to review the decision and have it overturned, which can be costly and time-consuming.

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