Home affairs sets up unit to clear work permit backlog

Written by: WYNDHAM HARTLEY, BUSINESS DAY
Published: 2012/04/24 07:24:12 AM

CAPE TOWN — Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has established a special "backlog adjudication unit" to clear up thousands of outstanding applications for work permits.

Speedy granting of permits is seen as vital in the battle to attract the scarce skills SA needs to accelerate growth and create jobs.

Replying to a parliamentary question from Democratic Alliance MP Michael de Villiers, she said in the 2010-11 financial year there were 22676 work permit applications, of which 16639 were approved and 2643 rejected. This leaves a backlog of about 3000.

The backlog grew still further in 2011-12 with 20492 applications received, 11005 approvals and 2162 refusals, leaving more than 7000 unresolved.

Ms Dlamini-Zuma did not indicate how many of the 10000 outstanding applications over the two years had been resolved, meaning the backlog could be that high.

Mr de Villiers had asked if there were backlogs and how the department intended to deal with them, and when the process would be complete.

Ms Dlamini-Zuma conceded that there was a backlog and said "the department has separated the adjudication of visas and permits into two separate functions, namely the daily adjudication and backlog adjudication".

The two units would operate in parallel to each other. One would prevent the backlog from growing while the other would ensure that the backlog was wiped out.

"A dedicated team of adjudicators has been established to manage the locked backlog.

"Locked backlog refers to applications exceeding the time frames, as stipulated in the department's annual performance plan, e.g. work permits to be issued within 30 days. All applications which are over 30 days have been locked in January 2012, and are processed by this dedicated team of adjudicators," Ms Dlamini-Zuma said.

In the 2012-13 financial year, more capacity would be built to ensure permits were issued within the stipulated time frames, and that applications were accepted and captured in real time and referred for online adjudication. Applicants would be informed via SMS about their status.

"The time frame to finalise the backlog is set for 30 June 2012."

A seperate unit had been established to process applications from educational institutions for study and work visas.

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