On the 14th of February 2022, Phaketha Vikwa, Director of Central Adjudications for South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs (DHA) released Internal Communique Number 3. This notice announced delegations signed on the 12th of January, 2022 and detailed the implementation of the increased Visa Processing Times, for long-term visas.
When the DHA first announced that long-term visa applications would now be adjudicated at their Head Office in Pretoria and no longer at missions in-country, it was posited as a way to ensure compliance and consistency when applying immigration legislation during adjudication – at the time, the immigration sector welcomed this.
Six months later, it is blatantly obvious that the centralised adjudication system is failing to produce its intended results, causing Visa Processing times to be increased. The slapdash implementation and inevitable increase in processing times have positioned South Africa as an unattractive employment and long-term residence location.
Previously, processing took between six to eight weeks. Now, our immigration consultants have received estimated processing times from missions of up to eight months. Corporates will not wait six to eight months for an assignee’s visa to be processed. Time is money – they will simply take their business to a country with more efficient Processing Times.
More so, some missions have insisted on creating processes out-of-line with SA immigration legislation, confusing our clients and immigration consultants, and causing panic and frustration for both. Some missions insist on holding clients’ passports for months during visa processing, making extensive travel planning difficult to impossible and therefore leading to loss of business and income for many of our clients.
What Can Be Done about this Increased Processing Time?
I have written several letters to the Director-General and Minister of Home Affairs, asking the government to reconsider the centralisation. More than this: I, along with my colleagues from IBN Immigration Solutions, WESGRO and several financial chambers, have written with clear suggestions to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). Our voices are not being heard.
What should overseas employers sending foreign assignees to SA do about this issue? Is it hopeless? Not if the immigration sector and international corporates band together and demand that more efficient measures are introduced to mitigate the fallout caused by the lack of planning around implementing these delegations.
We call on corporates and multinationals to add their voices and write to the DHA and the DTI. Use your authority, name and brand to create urgency around this issue. Local South Africans want and need your business and Foreign Direct Investment in SA and, even though the SA government’s actions do not reflect this, so do they.
Written by: Andreas Krensel and Lauren Daniels