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Thursday, 04 July 2024 15:28

Home Affairs extends temporary concession for foreign nationals.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

Newly sworn in Home Affairs Minister Leon Schreiber has extended a temporary concession for foreign nationals who are currently awaiting the outcome of visa, waiver and appeal applications to December 31.

The processing of some of these applications has been delayed and while the Department of Home Affairs has made progress on clearing the backlog the extension will protect applicants as they wait, according to the statement on Thursday.

The announcement comes a day after Schreiber, was sworn in as a minister in President Cyril Ramaphosa's new cabinet.

The previous administration handling of the country's visa regime has been criticised by employers for lengthy delays when they try to bring foreign technicians and executives into the country. Visa applicants can wait for more than a year to get a work permit, even as companies struggle to find skilled workers — despite high unemployment — due to failings of the education system.

"The extension safeguards applicants, including those with scarce skills, from suffering adverse consequences or being erroneously declared undesirable while they await the outcome of applications submitted to the Department," according to the statement.

Schreiber has also committed to avoiding a repeat of the situation when the previous concession expired before the extension was announced. He gave the undertaking that any further extension, modification or amendment to the terms of these concessions would be communicated in writing before the new expiry date of end-December. 

In terms of the new dispensation, visa applicants whose waiver application outcomes were still pending on June 30, are granted a further temporary extension until end-December. 

Those who wish to abandon their waiver applications and depart from SA will be allowed to exit at a port of entry before or on December 31 without being declared undesirable in terms of the Immigration Act and its regulations. 

The same will apply to visa holders who need to travel. They will be able to exit and re-enter a port of entry. 

Non-visa exempt applicants who travel out of the country with a waiver application receipt are required to apply for a port of entry visa that will allow them re-entry into SA. 

Visa holders who have applied for long-term visas — visitor's visas, business visas, study visas, relative's visas and work visas — and whose application is still pending at end-June are granted a further temporary extension until end-December of their current visa status. Applicants are not allowed to engage in any activity other than what the visa conditions provide for. 

Similarly, these visa holders who wish to abandon their visa applications will be allowed to exit at a port of entry before or on December 31 without being declared undesirable. Those who need to travel but are awaiting the outcome of a long-term visa application will be allowed to exit and re-enter at a port of entry up to and including December 31 2024 without being declared undesirable. 

Visa holders who have appealed a negative decision on an application for long-term visa are granted a temporary extension until end-December of the current visa status.