Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Adrian Roos MP.
The Department of Home Affairs’ (DHA) failure to address the systematic delays in its visa adjudication processes is turning foreign nationals who have pending applications into illegal immigrants and discouraging highly skilled talent from considering South Africa as a work destination.
A reply to a DA parliamentary question has revealed that the DHA is currently sitting on a backlog of 56 543 across all visa categories and they are only expecting to clear this backlog by June 2024.
The DA is calling on the Minister of Home Affairs, Aaron Motsoaledi, to immediately consider capacitating the Department’s visa adjudication processes, through additional staff if needs be, to not only reduce the current backlog but to ensure that delays in adjudicating applications are reduced as a matter of urgency.
Meanwhile, some foreign nationals whose visas have expired while waiting for the outcome of their applications have essentially been turned into illegal immigrants and are at huge risk of having their bank accounts closed. In certain cases, they cannot leave the country until the outcome of their applications have been issued.
Motsoaledi is constantly raising the problem of illegal immigrants in the country but his Department is playing an active role in making the problem worse though delays in issuing decisions on visa applications, with some applicants claiming that they have been waiting for outcomes for two to three years.
For highly skilled individuals who may want to come to South Africa and make a contribution to our economy, these Home Affairs delays are enough to discourage them. Currently, there is a competition for global talent to build successful knowledge economies and South Africa is evidently losing out due to Home Affairs’ own inefficiency.
South Africa might as well discard its scarce skills list because the inefficiency of our immigration system is a huge disincentive to prospective highly skilled individuals. It’s evident that even President Cyril Ramaphosa’s commitment to make it easy for skilled individuals to come to South Africa is a pipe dream as Home Affairs continues to be the stumbling block.
Unless the Department of Home Affairs takes urgent steps to address the visa adjudication delays and backlog, South Africa will continue to lose its competitiveness as destination for highly skilled individuals looking for countries where they can make a contribution in the economy.