Immigrants take Home Affairs to court, say it has all but collapsed

They would like to invest millions in SA, but some have been waiting more than six years for permanent residence permits.
The delays in the processing of permanent residence applications is costing the economy up to R15bn a year. Image: Moneyweb

No fewer than 180 would-be immigrants and their immigration services providers have hauled the Department of Home Affairs to court for delays of six years and more in attempting to secure permanent residence permits.

The court documents say the applicants have several million US dollars to invest and possess critical skills that are sorely needed in the SA economy.

Some have been waiting more than six years for permanent residence as Home Affairs “has all but collapsed,” according to court papers.

The delays in processing permanent residence applications is costing the economy R10-R15 billion a year.

The respondents in the case are the minister of Home Affairs, the president, the director-general of Home Affairs, and VFS Global South Africa, which processes permanent residence permits on behalf of Home Affairs.

It didn’t used to be this way

Deposing for the applications, Leon Isaacson, director of Global Migration Services, says he has been an immigration practitioner since 2007, at which time permanent residence applications were handled in no more than six months.

This was because regional Home Affairs offices handled the applications.

“There was sporadic corruption in the granting and refusal of permanent residence applications, mostly isolated to Germiston and Durban,” says Isaacson.

Then came a change …

In 2010, then home affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma centralised permanent residence applications in the Pretoria national office, and that prolonged the process from six months to three years.

In 2015, VFS Global was brought on board and – though it did not make decisions as to who got permanent residence or not – the application process prolonged from three to six years.

This is far in excess of the Department of Home Affairs’s indicated processing time of eight to 10 months.

Then a decision

“The inordinate delay in processing permanent residence applications has led to a decision, being made by the Department of Home Affairs, not to accept any further permanent residence applications,” deposes Isaacson.

“This decision effectively deletes Section 25 of the Immigration Act, which provides for permanent residents permits. It has blocked millions of United States dollars, together with essential skills, from being invested into the South African economy.”

The Department of Home Affairs is all but collapsed, adds Isaacson.

It gets worse …

“Not only is it not receiving any more permanent residents applications, and not capable of processing the existing permanent residence applications it has received, it has decided to make its job even more impossible by reviewing every permanent residence permit it issued from 2004 to date,” says Isaacson. “An impossible undertaking under the circumstances.”

Intervention needed

As a result of these delays, the Department of Home Affairs has failed to deliver on its legislative mandate and the applicants are asking the court to intervene on their behalf.

Isaacson told Moneyweb that the Covid-19 pandemic has also aggravated delays in the issuing of temporary residence visas inside South Africa for up to six months. “Clearly Covid has taken its toll on staffing numbers and staff health, so Home Affairs has been extending visas for 3-6 months at time to allow people to stay legal.”

The permanent residence permit backlog has been building for a while, and Global Migration Services, one of several immigration services providers bringing the case on behalf of the would-be immigrants, says it felt compelled to take the matter to court on behalf of 180 applicants who have been waiting for up to six years for their applications.

‘Highly prejudicial’

“It is highly prejudicial for long term residents to be without permanent residence, as banking facilities, education, employment and related issues are dependent on this status,” says Isaacson, whose company represents about 70 of the applicants, half of whom are from Africa, the rest mainly from Europe.

Isaacson adds that Home Affairs is likely to settle rather than argue the case in court, as it has indicated that it does not want more litigation.

Read: Will SA ever be able to solve its unemployment problem?

While a settlement in this case might benefit the 180 applicants, it may do little to settle the status of thousands more applicants who have been waiting years for both permanent residence and work visas based on the department’s critical skills list.


There appears to be a growing cleave between the Office of the Presidency – which is openly in favour of opening SA’s economy to skilled immigrants – and the Department of Labour, which appears less than enthusiastic about hiring foreigners over South Africans.

Isaacson suggests that Home Affairs is caught in the middle of this rift and paralysed into inaction.

He cites one example of a nearly R1 billion foreign investment deal in the energy sector that was nearly snuffed out by the department’s refusal or inability to issue 30 critical skills visas to German specialists who applied for visas to enter the country and train South Africans in a specific gas technology.

“This was a R1 billion investment that required nothing from government,” says Isaacson.

“All it had to do was issue the visas, and it was only after pressure was brought to bear from multiple quarters that the visas were actually issued and the deal was saved.”



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Mind-blowing incompetence.

Despite repeatedly proclaiming otherwise, this is how the cANCer treats their brothers and sisters.
Xenophobia on a whole new level.

Which department fast tracked the Cuban doctors and verified their skills, language competency, criminal records and the like? Truth is that many laws in South Africa marginalize highly skilled immigrants under the farce that they are here to take South African jobs. In addition the hot mess that is BEE and diversity requirements has marginalized the existing skills base,nin favor of being politically and optically correct.

It is not incompetence. It is simply a matter of the fact that the bribe is not big enough and this small problem first needs to be solved. Plus there is the never-ending consulting back and forth, consult those who are living and consult those who are dead (i.e. the ancestors), which also adds to the delay.

Home affairs collapsed more than 10 years ago already !!!!

Not mind blowing at all. Just bog standard ANC stupidity and incompetence

Simple solution, take your money and skills and go somewhere else. why bother waiting six years only to have to go to court to get an answer. Read between the lines!!

Story of the ANC. Incompetence elevated to an art form.

If VFS Global is processing the permits on behalf of Home Affairs, why do we need a dept. Home Affairs at all? Why have a minister then? Just source out the whole shebang and we don’t need a government at all. Seriously.

Like with all public services, electricity, water etc,

greedy private capital, always eager to get a piece of state monopoly

Once again cadre deployment has led to a perfectly functional department deteriorating into total shambles, like so many other departments, resulting in the cabal’s promise of a better life for all vapourising like the early morning mist before the scorching morning sun.

Let’s vote for them again, comrades!


do what the other 15 million or so immigrants done,

they just came and stayed – no visa required – lol

I shouldn’t be shocked by anything at this point really, but with this one I’m blown away! The sad thing is they are denying legitimate individuals the residency but turn a blind eye on illegal immigrants who are quite parasitic on state resources and benefit programs for the poor.

Hey guys, heads up, this lot absolutely hate anything that is from outside SA, capital, western ways you name it they don’t want it.

please don’t notice the fancy cars, watches, cell phones glued to ears, gutchi suites etc. they hate all that.

What is new about DOHA? Collapsed? is there any other word stronger and more meaningful than “Collapsed”?

Even if we lose R 1,000,000,000,000 Billion what is new?
Does anyone care?

Only Pres. Ramaphosa can do anything about it and his hands are full from all the disasters from the Zuma administration.

It will take a 100 years to fix what the Zuma administration messed up.

They have millions to invest??haha you must be joking. Just more taxpayers sponsored parasites competing with the corrupt looting ANC.

I think these companies are already in SA. They want to bring in foreigners who are skilled, say an engineer who knows how to install a solar panel for renewable energy in a way that’s never done before. Home affairs on the other hand is not issuing the documents as such that investment is held up.
They can however continue installing old fashion panels. This lost investment.

Political will for consequence management is the only solution. If your department fails to meet performance criteria, it gets outsourced and you all loose your jobs.

The captain has abandoned the Titanic. There is nobody on deck. The intoxicated crew members are fighting each other down in the mess hall for the keys to the pantry and the barrels of rum.

It was clear that the president has abandoned his post when he sat on that train for 5 hours while the cables have been stolen and remarked “nobody is responsible for the collapsing train service because the accountability is shared by the collective”.

President Truman had a sign on his desk “The buck stops here”. The buck does not stop anywhere in a collectivist government. It gets passed from one unaccountable and overpaid criminal in a leadership position to the next.

I have been waiting almost a year for my birth certificate. Nothing has changed on it. Place of birth, date, mother and father still the same. The problem is that the people who are desperate to get citizenship/residency in South Africa have had democracy for far longer in their country of birth than we have had in South Africa. And as we know democracy isn’t what it use to be. Their children will pack up in 20 years time and repeat the process all over again. This time round they will at least have a free education from South Africa. Future isn’t looking great.

It’s not incompetence, it’s pure laziness and the total lack of accountability for that laziness. They just don’t bother doing their job because they don’t get scolded for not doing their job so nothing gets done! Plus they are arrogant and entitled, it’s disgraceful behavior one sees at all state owned enterprises. They just don’t care and they get away with not caring. They also get a kick out of treating people like rubbish.

How is it that the ANC regime is that unable to process applications that it stops them, yet allows Cuban mercenaries to replace SA skilled workers?

It’s elementary. You see the people who were qualified to operate the shovels that filled the potholes have now swopped those shovels for Gucci suits and are sitting at the desks of the department where they shovel papers from one desk to the other so that the work never gets done and all the while the potholes get more and bigger so that work also never gets done!

Article does not state where from Africa these migrants are coming from and why they are so desperate to get into SA? If they are so skilled why would they bother with SA’s bureaucracy?
Probably looking for a lax jurisdiction to launder their cash. They certainly won’t be able to do that in developed countries.

What hasn’t collapsed in the advancement of ‘transformation’.

Not incompetent at all. The glorious movement does not want immigrants but they cannot come out and say so so this is a neat way to keep it under the radar. So sorry that I came back here after years as an expat in Africa. If anyone wants to call me a moron or similar go for it I have been beating myself up for years.

True story. I play golf with a guy from the States who lives in CT and they run a mega agri-processing business in the US and other parts of the world. Obv Africa has great potential there and they wished to set up a very technical plant here to process a food product. After a year of trying to get some sort of license, as well as getting their people accredited by Home Affairs, they gave up. They now have working plants in Zambia and Botswana, welcomed with open arms (even looking at Zim!). Now he just enjoys his wines and golf in CT but all their business is outside of SA in Africa. They are serious, serious operators too

End of comments.



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