In our Newsletter dated 04 August 2010 we made our clients aware of the latest developments at the Department of Home Affairs and the difficulties in dealing with the department. Our clients appreciate the fact that they have a strong partner dealing with the obscure and often completely chaotic conditions existing within the department's operational structures.
Dear valued clients and partners, sehr geehrte Mandanten und Partner,
As you may have heard (or felt), we are at the moment experiencing a particularly difficult time with the Department of Home Affairs. The Department is facing even greater challenges than usual, due to the ill-prepared centralization of the (temporary residence) adjudication processes, coupled with the relocation of the Cape Town office of Home Affairs, with frequent changes of senior officials in an apparent attempt to combat corruption and fraud, in addition to the continued under-staffing and lack of training of officials.
Our team at IMCOSA has been feverishly working at managing this situation, working long nights and weekends in fighting the battle for our clients.
In this newsletter, we would like to bring you up to date with regards to the latest developments and changes taking place in the context of immigration laws and procedures in South Africa / aktuelle Entwicklungen in Bezug auf Immigrationssachen und das Department of Home Affairs:
Centralisation of Adjudication of Temporary Residence Applications / zentralisierung des entscheidungsverfahrens
In our last newsletter we informed you of the centralization of the adjudication processes having been implemented in the Springs and Germiston offices of Home Affairs (after Pretoria, which was the pioneer project). Within days from our newsletter being sent out and without prior notice, the centralization was extended to most or all offices of Home Affairs in the country. In effect, all applications submitted to Home Affairs since 28 May 2010, have been or are being sent to the so-called “HUB” in Pretoria for decision-making. The HUB is also in charge of issuing the actual permits (adhesive stickers), which are then sent to the regional offices for attachment into the applicants’ passports. Furthermore, an electronic “Track & Trace” system has been introduced, which is currently unreliable, fraught with technical problems and in respect of which many officials have not received the required training.
With the exception of a handful of applications, which were processed and finalized by the HUB within as little as three weeks, our fears regarding delays have been proven to be justified and we are currently experiencing backlogs of two to three months on average.
We have been following up on pending applications on a daily basis and through a variety of channels, including over the counter, via fax, email and telephone with the Cape Town office, the Western Cape provincial office, the Home Affairs callcentre and the Head Office and “HUB” in Pretoria. We have been assured by senior officials that our queries have been taken to the highest levels in Pretoria, but have not had any tangible proof thereof. At this stage, and as confirmed to me in person and in writing by different senior officials, Home Affairs is under enormous pressure and hopelessly understaffed for effectively managing the new process. Officials in Pretoria and the regions are said to be working overtime. We are reliably told that the Department will be advertising 120 positions for the HUB during August, which gives an indication of the enormous gaps that exist.
We have not been given any reliable estimated timeframes for the processing of applications and for the expected alleviation of the backlogs, but it seems clear that one should be expecting processing times of two months and more for the time being. In light of these extreme delays, IMCOSA has requested from the Department of Home Affairs in some regions a commitment to refrain from acting on persons who have waited for their work or business permits for more than 30 days and who commence or continue with their working activities without having received their permits or extensions of permits. We are still awaiting a decision in this regard.
IMCOSA is continuing to take a number of measures, both independently and as member of the Forum of Immigration Practitioners of South Africa (FIPSA), of which Julia Willand is a management committee member, to put the Department and especially the Minister of Home Affairs under pressure to resolve this crisis. An attorney’s letter will be served to the Minister and Director-General on 4 August 2010, demanding the finalization of outstanding cases within 10 calendar days, or alternatively a satisfactory plan on how the backlogs will be dealt with. All of IMCOSA’s clients’ applications that have been pending for more than 30 calendar days, will be included in this letter. As a last resort, court action will have to be taken against the Minister. In this context, IMCOSA may contact you again directly.
CAPE TOWN OFFICE MOVE / umzug der behörde in kapstadt
The long-announced office move of the Cape Town office of Home Affairs was finally concluded in the middle of July and the office is now located in a temporary location at the Foreshore until the offices in Barrack Street have been renovated. The move has led to further disruptions of processes and to the location of files being more difficult and time-consuming. Until today, the temporary office has not been fitted with computers or telephone lines, and making contact is accordingly difficult.
What does this mean for you? / konsequenzen für sie als mandanten
In light of the above developments, we warn our clients to make appropriate provisions and arrangements for the processing delays. Please do make contact with your client managers at any time for further and more detailed information on your particular case(s).
We further urge our clients who require new permits, extensions or changes of permits for their employees, families or themselves, to contact IMCOSA as early as possible to take the above-described delays into account.
Whilst this is a frustrating and taxing time for all of us, IMCOSA will continue to make every possible effort to achieve results for our clients’ applications as quickly as possible, and we will keep you informed of the developments at all times.
Bitte melden Sie sich bei uns, falls Sie persönlich und in deutscher Sprache zu den genannten Themen oder generell näher informiert werden möchten.
Best regards, freundliche Grüße
Your IMCOSA Team
Tel Cape Town: +27 (0)21 462 3184
Tel Johannesburg: +27 (0)11 326 5131