Litigation: Home Affairs in court over permanent residence delays

No fewer than 180 would-be immigrants and their immigration services providers are tackling the Department of Home Affairs in 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, notes a Moneyweb report. The delays in processing permanent residence applications are costing the economy R10bn-R15bn a year, it is claimed. The respondents are the Minister of Home Affairs, the President, the DG of Home Affairs, and VFS Global South Africa, which processes permanent residence permits on behalf of Home Affairs. 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.

However, in 2010, then Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma centralized 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 more than the Department of Home Affairs’ indicated processing time of eight to 10 months. ‘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,’ says Isaacson's papers. ‘This decision effectively deletes section 25 of the Immigration Act, which provides for permanent residents permits. It has blocked millions of US dollars, together with essential skills, from being invested into the South African economy.’ The Department of Home Affairs is all but collapsed, adds Isaacson.

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