My letter this month is a balance of optimism and frustration. I finally got to reunite with family and friends this month just in time for my birthday, as travel bans lifted around the world. In the same vein, I am looking forward to attending the EURA conference in May and interacting, collaborating, and enjoying the company of my fellow global mobility managers and immigration experts.
At IBN Immigration Solutions, we had an extremely busy, stressful month, due mostly to the visa adjudication announcement made by Minister Aaron Motsoaledi in January that started taking effect in April. Foreign nationals are raring to get to SA and leave behind the political turmoil in Europe and the UK. We received an influx of applications for all types of temporary residence permits and work permits from both private and corporate clients. This was exciting and positive, pointing to a return to normalcy as Covid slowly ramps down in some parts of the world.
When we were informed by the embassies of the increase in processing durations for long-term residency visas, we immediately recognised that this would negatively impact the view of SA in the eyes of foreign investors. International corporates will be loath to wait six to eight months for work permits to be approved. Thankfully, I work with some of the best consultants in the immigration business and despite the delay in visa processing, we saw many successful outcomes in April.
We are an immigration company that prides itself on working closely with immigration authorities to help process our clients’ applications as smoothly as possible, however, when the department makes these decisions, seemingly without deep and constructive thought, it leads to a multitude of underlying issues that could affect the county’s economy and workforce extremely negatively.
This does not, however, take our government off the hook. The abovementioned Minister was featured in an interview on the 6th of April 2022 on SABC News, attempting to discuss the Department of Home Affairs’ decision-making regarding recent xenophobic upheavals in South Africa and steps the department is taking to offset the current visa processing backlog.
The blanket waiver granted to foreign nationals struggling to get appointments or receive visa outcomes during the backlog has been extended to the 30th of June 2022, but is this a solution, or merely a band-aid on a much larger issue?
Back to the positive! We’ll update you with news and information from the EURA conference in our next newsletter. We also have many great events with our partners coming up in May and June, including webinars with SAIN (South Africa International Network) and Afriwise. Look out for emails or socials advertising these and sign up! I’d love to (digitally) see you there.
To end, I’ll leave you with a quote from an article in the Mail and Guardian by Maruping Phepheng: “I can go on and on, but the African immigrant who is not involved in crime is not the enemy. She is a friend who needs to be embraced and encouraged through compassionate legislation to become a participant in our social and economic landscape in order to simultaneously advance herself and contribute to the prosperity of her new home.”
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