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Uproar over Home Affairs decision to extend visa grace for foreigners

The African Transformation Movement (ATM) has condemned Home Affairs Minister Leon Schreiber’s decision to extend the temporary concession for foreigners awaiting visa, waiver and appeal outcomes. 

On Thursday, Schreiber said the processing of some of these applications had been delayed due to backlogs. However, the extension safeguards applicants—including those who are contributing to South Africa through their scarce skills—from suffering adverse consequences or being erroneously declared undesirable while they await the outcome of their applications. 

HOME AFFAIRS MINISTER EXTENDS TEMPORARY CONCESSION FOR FOREIGNERS WHO APPLIED FOR VISAS

The Department of Home Affairs said the decision to avert adverse consequences for applicants who seek to obtain lawful visas to contribute to South Africa, either through their skills or as tourists, signals Schreiber’s commitment to improving the visa system. In turn, this will make South Africa a more attractive destination for international investment, tourism, and job creation. 

“While it will take time to achieve this vision in full, the decision to extend the temporary concession serves as a signal of intent to reinvigorate the Department of Home Affairs and position it as a vital economic enabler,” Home Affairs spokesperson Siya Qoza said. 

Visa holders who have applied for a waiver and the waiver application is still pending as of 30 June are granted a further temporary extension until 31 December to enable Home Affairs to process the applications, applicants to collect their outcomes, and applicants to submit applications for appropriate visas.

Those who wish to abandon their waiver applications and depart from South Africa will be allowed to exit at a port of entry before or on 31 December without being declared undesirable in terms of section 30(1)(h) of the Immigration Act, 2002 read with regulation 27(3) of the Immigration Regulations, 2014.

Visa holders who need to travel but are awaiting the outcome of a waiver application will be allowed to exit and re-enter at a port of entry up to and including 31 December. 

You can find out more about this here. 

Home Affairs Minister Leon Schreiber with his deputy Njabulo Nzuza. Image: X/@Leon_Schreib

SCHREIBER’S DECISION CONDEMNED 

The ATM said Schreiber’s decision demonstrates a blatant disregard for South Africans’ well-being and economic prospects. The policy also undermines the efforts of skilled South African workers. 

ATM leader Vuyo Zungula said the concession allows an influx of foreign nationals to compete for limited job opportunities while the country’s unemployment rate remains alarmingly high. 

Zungula said it is imperative to prioritise South African workers as unemployment remains one of the country’s pressing issues. 

“The ATM is deeply concerned that the decision will exacerbate issues caused by an influx of wealthy foreigners, particularly in Cape Town, who drive up property values and make housing increasingly unaffordable for locals. This phenomenon highlights the skewed priorities of Schreiber’s policy, which fails to address the economic disparities faced by our citizens,” Zungula said. 

Additionally, he urged the Home Affairs minister to revoke the concession and prioritise the interests of South African citizens. 

“Strengthening immigration controls, ensuring skills transfer, and auditing visa processes should have been the starting point rather than rushing to implement flawed policies that undermine our nation’s economic and social fabric.” 

DA APPLAUDS ITS MP FOR TAKING ‘BOLD’ ACTION

Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance (DA) has applauded Schreiber who is one of the party’s Member of Parliament (MP) for his decision.

DA spokesperson Werner Horn said they are encouraged by Schreiber’s first official act which will provide time for the department to significantly reduce the backlog of over 145,000 visas acquired during the previous administration. 

In turn, the Home Affairs Minister’s undertaking will bring certainty and quell the burden for foreigners awaiting the outcome of their visa, waiver and appeal applications.  

“The delays at the Department have reached a crisis point, creating confusion and frustration among tourists, and creating a feeding ground for corruption to thrive. 

“We are confident that in this period, the Department of Home Affairs, under the leadership of Dr Schreiber will implement relief plans to shrink the backlog at the department but also bolster our struggling economy with the attraction of skilled foreign nationals, investments, tourism and job creation in the long-term,” Horn said.

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