South Africa has been suffering from a massive visa backlog for months now. And while the Department of Home Affairs is clearing the backlog, they seem to be paying no attention to the spousal visa, with its lack of adjudication and spouses waiting years for outcomes.
In a recent interview with eNCA on September 20th, South Africa’s Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, discussed the country’s immigration policies. During the interview, Dr Motsoaledi mentioned and addressed many issues surrounding the backlog, but was almost dismissive of spousal visa applications.
This has raised concerns among our clients and our office alike.
The Backlog Issue
While the Minister acknowledged the importance of prioritising visas that contribute to economic growth, such as Critical Skills and Business Visas, he made statements suggesting that spousal applicants were not a priority due to their perceived lack of economic contribution.
Misconceptions and Concerns
Firstly, it is important to note that South Africa’s Constitution emphasises the protection of the unity of families, including spouses legally residing in the country. Denying or delaying spousal visas can directly contravene this constitutional principle.
Secondly, many spouses apply for visa endorsements that allow them to work or start their own businesses in South Africa. Denying them these opportunities not only affects their livelihood but also hampers the well-being of the family, another constitutional right.
Finally, some foreign spouses come to South Africa and establish their own businesses, thereby contributing to job creation and economic growth. This aspect of the debate seems to be overlooked in the discussion that transpired on September 20th.
The Impact on Families
Another significant concern is the impact on South Africans married to foreign spouses. If their spouses cannot join them in South Africa or face prolonged delays, many South Africans may opt to leave the country to be with their loved ones. This situation leads to unnecessary stress, financial burdens, and frustration for these families.
While economic priorities are crucial for Home Affairs’ focus, it is equally important to uphold constitutional principles and protect the unity of families.
The perception that spousal applicants are not a priority within the Department of Home Affairs raises concerns regarding fairness and deserves far more public attention and outcry.
Written by Andreas Krensel, Managing Director
Written by Simon Carletti, PR and Creative Supervisor