Following a written parliamentary Q&A this week, the severity of the Department of Home Affairs’ backlog was revealed. Home Affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi told parliament in his statement that the DHA still needs to process 56 543 visas, with an estimated completion of all outstanding visa applications as far as the middle of 2024.
A History of Inadequacy
This follows months and months of IBN Immigration Solutions reporting on the massive backlog and delays due to the DHA’s poor turnover time. As mentioned before, much of this inefficiency of processing stems from the decision to centralise visa processing in Pretoria, a choice that was earlier this year reversed as it was proving overwhelming for their office.
However, the damage was already done, and the consequence is that over 56 000 applicants are waiting for their visa applications.
These delays affect many different visa types: as an example, the Spousal Visa is taking 10 to 12 months to process, and in the DHA’s current state, facilitating the creation of a Digital Nomad Visa is just not possible, even though our Namibian neighbours have just implemented their own.
Fast-tracking Critical Skills Work Visa Applications
In October of this year, the DHA promised to fast-track the processing of both the Critical Skills Work Visa and the Business Visa to combat the delays. Sadly, this seemed more of an empty promise than anything, with processing times remaining slow.
Visa Rejections the New Norm
The most shocking result of the backlog is the sheer number of applications being rejected by the DHA, seemingly so that they can process more applications faster. The percentage of how many submitted applications are being rejected was not released by Motsoaledi.
“As confirmed through conversation with DHA officials, the Department has indicated that they have been given a KPI to adjudicate 20 applications per day. To match this arbitrary number, and keep on track, they seem to be rejecting applications to mark them complete and reach their daily goal.
This abhorrent lack of care is costing applicants time, money, and emotional pain, and will only reflect negatively on the immigration landscape of South Africa. If over 70% of submitted applications for Critical Skills Visas are rejected, South Africa will no longer attract highly skilled foreign workers. The domino effect will continue, and with companies unable to employee international assignees, businesses will struggle to grow, and international investment will falter or stop completely.”
Holding the DHA Accountable
Many of our clients have (rightfully) become frustrated with these increasing processing times. To combat this, IBN spearheaded a lawsuit against the Department of Home Affairs, demanding that client’s outstanding visa applications be adjudicated. We were successful in this regard and will be receiving results soon.
What More Can Be Done?
As proof of our lawsuit, and previous efforts to decentralise visa processing, making noise works. We will continue to remain vocal on these unacceptable delays and rejections.