Delays at Home Affairs Due to Covid-19

After the State of Disaster declaration by President Ramaphosa on 15th of March 2020, South Africa – like the rest of the world – has largely remained in a strict lockdown, with local and international travel measures only now beginning to ease. The resulting lockdown severely impacted South African immigration, with an immediate halt placed on outstanding permanent residency applications. The Department of Home Affairs has estimated that since March 2020, about 33,700 residency applicants have been left vulnerable and in a state of uncertainty regarding their future in South Africa with no clear end in sight. However, things are beginning to change.

Home Affairs Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi, has stated that appeals to challenge permit decisions will (for now) restart from October 2021, and permanent residency applications will once again be considered from 1 January 2022. While this is good news, applicants should remain patient as the suspension of pending temporary and permanent residency applications since March 2020 has led to an unprecedented backlog of applications. Although a team has been assembled to specifically target the large backlog and work through the unprocessed applications as soon as possible, it will still take time to create and implement an effective system across every department branch in the country. Despite news reports claiming that working through the backlog could potentially take years, applicants should be aware that those claims are based on the worst-case scenario and should not yet be accepted as a hard fact.

The Department of Home Affairs has long since suffered an unfortunate reputation of excessive waiting periods and ineffective procedures, which has now taken another hit. According to Business Tech, Home Affairs has not only been slow and inconsistent with resumed services, but they have also begun rejecting more residency applications than they have approved. Most rejections have been a result of questionable justifications, despite staffers not yet being allowed to “officially” process any residency applications under lockdown protocol. Experts have advised that private individuals challenging the decision by Home Affairs will likely add to the backlog to be dealt with when the time comes.

If your application has been rejected for a reason that should not apply or if you would like legal assistance with a pending application, please contact us for an initial assessment and assistance with your case.