• The Department of Home Affairs has reversed a decision to centralise the adjudication of long-term visas.
  • That plan lasted for only a couple of months and did not go at all well.
  • Embassies – previously accused of sometimes endangering national security or harming the economy – are now back in charge.

On September 1st 2022, the South African government ended its policy of centralising the adjudication of long-term visas. Consular officials are again responsible for deciding who is let into South Africa. The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) told Business Insider South Africa that it “did issue a new directive which came into effect on Thursday, 1st of September 2022”.

Companies that have signed up to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s investment drive say delays in processing work visas for critical foreign staff are holding up their expansion plans. The companies expressed frustration because they cannot reach a department official who can provide even a vague prediction of how long a visa will take – or even confirm that their application has been accepted after lodgement – making it impossible for them to plan moves for employees who need to secure places in schools for children and move their households across oceans.

Before Thursday, 1st of September 2022, all work visa applications with more than three months had to be sent to Pretoria for a decision by the Department of Home Affairs Director general. The purpose was to create consistency and prevent corruption. Visa facilitators said missions were told that the Department was concerned about reports of arbitrary demands for documents implying that these were subtle solicitations for bribes. They were also told that only central decision-making could balance the need for national security with the need to allow foreign investors to move with speed.

Visa facilitation companies believe that consular service divisions, which are fully staffed to process visas, may be able to bring turnaround times down to 6 to 8 weeks from the submission date.

If you wish to read the Internal directive by the Department of Home Affairs – Please click here.

Should you have any further questions, please feel free to contact Visa Immigration SA.

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