Immigration policies in SA: Understanding the ‘undesirable’ term

The term ‘undesirable’ in immigration invokes a sense of exclusion, but within the intricate framework of South Africa’s Immigration Act of 2002, it holds a more nuanced meaning.

Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi provided insights into the mechanisms governing the declaration of individuals as ‘undesirable’ within the nation’s immigration protocols during a media briefing on Sunday in Pretoria.

South Africa: One-day visa overstay leads to undesirable Status

“As you would know, your passports and visas indicate the number of days you have been allocated to be in South Africa. If you exceed your allocated days, even by just one day, the MCS at the borders will pick it up, regard it as an overstay, and automatically declare you undesirable. 

“Fortunately, lawmakers in this country also realised that there could be myriad reasons that may cause a person to exceed their allocated days. Hence in the Act, the legislature empowers the Minister to review and set aside an undesirability status on application by the affected individual if cogent reasons are provided,” he said. 

This recognition of extenuating circumstances reflects a commitment to fairness and procedural justice within the immigration apparatus.

Moreover, Motsoaledi elucidated a vital lifeline for visa applicants caught in limbo: the issuance of a receipt upon application serves as a provisional extension, affording individuals respite from potential scrutiny by law enforcement during the waiting period for a decision.

Immigration policy implementation raises concerns among officials

However, recent concerns surrounding the implementation of directives, particularly among Border Management Authority officials, have underscored the need for clarity and precision in executing immigration policies.

Motsoaledi’s call for specificity in lodging grievances reflects a commitment to transparency and accountability within the system.

In essence, the discourse surrounding ‘undesirable’ in immigration policies necessitates a nuanced understanding — one that recognises the intersecting dynamics of legality, discretion, and human circumstance.


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