South Africa extends temporary visa concessions amid processing delays

South African Home Affairs Minister Leon Schreiber has extended a temporary concession for foreign nationals awaiting visa, waiver, and appeal outcomes until Dec. 31. This extension aims to protect applicants from adverse consequences while the Department of Home Affairs addresses processing delays and backlog issues.

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By Rene Vollgraaff

Newly sworn in South African 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 Dec. 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 an emailed statement on Thursday.

The announcement comes a day after Schreiber, a member of the business-friendly Democratic Alliance, was sworn in as a minister in African National Congress leader President Cyril Ramaphosa’s new cabinet, following May 29 elections.

The ANC’s handling of the country’s visa regime has been criticized 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 South African 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.

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