As expected, the Department of Home Affairs – still in total disarray – has not been able to tackle the backlog of visa and waiver applications as well as appeals successfully. In consequence, and due to the existing blanket concession expiring 31 December 2023, acting Director-General of Home Affairs, DDG Thulani Mavuso, has in a Circular to the Border Managements, published on 21 December 2023, extended the temporary concession. The circular differentiates between four cases:
- Pending Waiver Applications
- Pending Long-term Visa Applications
- Pending Appeals
- Pending Visitor Visa Renewals
- Visa Holders waiting for their Waivers to be granted may stay legally in the country until 30 June 2024 or depart anytime before that, without being declared undesirable and being banned from re-entry. This exception applied also to previous concessions, however, the poorly skilled and ill-informed Home Affairs officials at the airports and land borders from time to time are oblivious to the ruling circular and still ban the exiting applicant. In these cases an urgent overstay appeal has to be lodged, which has a 99% success rate (the remaining percent to be attributed to those at head office also not being briefed sufficiently).
- Applicants for Long-Term Visa, such as for Voluntaries and Relatives, Business, Study and Work Visa, with pending applications lodged with VfS may stay legally in the country until 30 June 2024, and also depart and re-enter until such date without being declared undesirable following proof of submission of renewal in form of the VfS submission slip. The caveat for Waiver applicants above applies here as well.
- Applicants whose Appeal against rejection of application for Long-Term Visa may also stay legally until 30 June 2024, may exit and re-enter the country or abandon their appeals at any time to leave the country without being declared undesirable based on showing a copy of the rejection letter in combination with the VfS submission slip, above caveats in mind.
- Tourists who applied for a Renewal of their Visitor Visa, for 90 days or less, and who have not received their outcome by 23 February 2024 will have to leave the country on or before 29 February 2024.
The concession is in line with previous circulars in this regard and applies only to pending Applications submitted on or before 30 November 2023. It is expected that a similar circular will be published short before the expiry of this one as no significant efforts are being made in reducing the existing backlog and a meaningful progress can only be expected from a government succeeding the current after next year’s general elections.