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Confusion: Backlog vs Scapegoat – Home Affairs Minister says Work Visas has no backlog?


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Confusion: Backlog vs Scapegoat – Home Affairs Minister says Work Visas has no backlog?


15th November 2023


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Many are confused by the comments made by Dr Aaron Motsoaledi this week. 

The White paper published just Sunday, the 12th of November 2023 by the same Minister, confirms the staggering backlog of over 74 000 permits. Yet, it is reported that the Minister has now stated that there is no work permit crises and his department is not causing a skills crisis. What does he mean exactly? 


Xpatweb Managing Director, Marisa Jacobs sheds some light on the matter. She confirms that while the Department is experiencing an unprecedented backlog, one needs to look at the specific areas of immigration administration. 

She confirms that the backlog is severe, meaning 18 months or longer, for the following categories –

  • Permanent Residency applications, 
  • Waivers, 
  • Appeals, 
  • Retired person visas, and 
  • Visitor’s visas for spouses and dependents.

These applicants are often deeply personally impacted by the backlog, and following a legal route is often the only way to get a legally correct outcome. 

Work visa applications, however, are being prioritised by the Departments of Home Affairs. Marisa Jacobs confirms that the department indeed fast tracks applications where correctly submitted and as a fully compliant application. 

Xpatweb confirms, in stark contrast to the waiting periods noted for other categories, they are seeing work visas and study visas processed within 4 weeks by the Department of Home Affairs Head Office. 

Some exceptions must be noted, work visas submitted at the South African High Commissions and Embassies abroad, are subject to their own processing times and we are seeing inconsistent processing times depending on country of submission says Jacobs. This is amplified by many offices with a new rotation of officials in the immigration seat still settling in, combined with high volumes of applications pushing the processing times over the estimated period causing frustration. 

There is also a higher rate of rejection where Head Office processes the application and this means that the applicant must submit an appeal, causing a backlog on a work visa of more than 12 months. 

The same can be said for waiver applications in support of a General Work Visa application, where the processing time is set at a minimum of 12 months. 

In summary, while work visas are prioritised and we are consistently seeing good processing times, there are a variety of exceptions, and this fuels frustration among expats. 

Submitted by Xpatweb


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