Newsletter Jan 2023

Dear Clients, Partners and Friends,

Some of you have already seen the sad news about the tragic loss of our dear colleague and friend Gretta Jim on Christmas Eve. Many of you have met and been assisted by Gretta over the past eight years during which she was part of the Imcosa family. Thank you for the beautiful messages received already, which we have passed on to her family. Some of you have asked for ways to support the family which was heavily reliant on Gretta, especially her teenage daughter and granddaughter whom she cared for. Below you will find more information on this.

As we are mourning Gretta, we are throwing ourselves at continuing her legacy of care, dedication, strength and resilience. In this spirit, we have started the year with great commitment as we are experiencing an elevated interest in South Africa – as a temporary, second, or primary long-term home. The processing times at the South African missions abroad have slowly returned to normal. Our 2021 court challenge to Home Affairs for long-outstanding permanent residence applications was finally successful, and since the positive judgment of early November we have received 40 out of 45 finalisation (more below). But even outside of the court case, we have recently seen some permanent residence results trickling in. Lastly, both in and outside the ANC`s national conference in December, Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has made some statements that should be kept in awareness (more below).

Today’s update includes:

• Successful Class Action Against Home Affairs
• Digital Nomad Visa: Lost in Political Battles
• Immigration Policy Review: What to Expect
• Offices for ID Applications by Permanent Residents and Naturalised Citizens
• Status of backlogs and processing times
• Fundraiser for Gretta`s Family

For details, please scroll down.

May 2023 bring you good health, abundance, peace and joy.

Yours sincerely,
Julia Willand

Successful Class Action Against Home Affairs

The joint class action initiated in 2021 to secure outcomes for our clients` long-outstanding permanent residence applications, was finally successful. Judgment in our favour was handed down in early November 2022, and to date we have received notices of finalisation for over 86% of the cases. By now, most of these have been collected, and we are pleased to share that 93% were approved (with far fewer hasty and erroneous rejections than we had feared based on results received by our colleagues). Although a drawn-out and often frustrating exercise and not yet completed, we can already say that, overall, it was a success.

Digital Nomad Visa: Lost in Political Battles

The Remote Work Visa or Digital Nomad Visa, as it is variously called, remains elusive in South Africa. It has been implemented by many other countries looking to boost their economies, including Mauritius and, recently, Namibia. It allows professionals to stay longer-term whilst working remotely for their overseas employers – and spending their foreign currency locally at the same time. It is a sensible addition to any modern country`s immigration policy, as it creates income and jobs in the host country without taking away from the local job market. Apparently, the President (who had announced its introduction as year ago), his task team for structural reform and economic recovery, and the opposition party leading the Western Cape province that receives the bulk of tourists to South Africa, all agree on the value of such a visa. Alas, our Minister of Home Affairs seems to disagree and has thus far dug in his heels on the topic. According to him, no plans for an implementation seem to exist.

Immigration Policy Review: What to Expect

At its national elective conference in December 2022, the ANC adopted changes to its immigration policy which may well translate into amendments of the Citizenship, Refugee and Immigration Acts in the future. Main concerns are illegal immigration and the need to protect the vulnerable jobs market in a country with unemployment standing at above 30%. As is so often the case, politicians tend to rush to changing laws instead of properly implementing already-existing laws, because that shifts the blame away from them and their administrations. Unfortunately, legal and deserving immigrants can become collateral damage in the process. The following topics have been raised by the Minister of Home Affairs in this context and should be taken note of:

a) Potentially discontinuing the rule that allows permanent residence holders to obtain citizenship after 5 years.
b) Questioning the system of permanent residence (versus long-term visas) in its entirety.
c) Looking at “disassociating” spousal and family relations from the immigration system (although not quite clear, his statement seems to indicate the Minister`s wish to stop accommodating spouses, minor children and relatives of South Africans and permanent residents under the immigration system – not that this would withstand constitutional legal scrutiny).

There is currently no need to panic as these things take time and undergo rigorous processes, but a healthy awareness may be appropriate. We will keep you informed of further developments.

Offices for ID Applications by Permanent Residents and Naturalised Citizens

As previously reported, permanent residents and naturalised citizens can no longer make their applications for the “old” green ID book (they do not qualify for Smart ID cards) at their nearest Home Affairs office, but have to travel to one of the “legacy (non/modernised)” offices to do so. The closest offices to Cape Town accepting these applications are currently Swellendam, Citrusdaal and Laingsburg. Our team will advise you individually on the relevant offices elsewhere in the country.

Status of backlogs and processing times

Our latest overview of average processing times and backlogs provides the rough trends. It is advisable to have these confirmed individually, as they may differ from case to case.

Permanent Residence: 3-5 years and longer (except critical skills: 12 months and less)
Temporary visa applications: 8-12 months (except visitors, business and critical skills: 1-6 months)
Visa applications abroad: back to 3-12 weeks, depending on category and location; backlogs from last year set to be cleared by end of the month
Appeals: 2-9 months
Citizenship: certain processes 6 months, others longer

As per usual, you are welcome to contact our team with any questions you may have.

Fundraiser for Gretta Jim`s Family

Gretta`s tragic death on Christmas Eve in an accident whilst travelling to her family in the Eastern Cape has deeply shaken us as a team, as it has many of you.

Gretta would often greet our clients when they visited our Cape Town offices, and accompany them to the offices of Home Affairs and VFS to guide them through this sometimes stressful process. From the feedback we have received over the years, we know that she was much respected and liked by clients and officials alike. The head of the Cape Town VFS office said that she was “probably the most loved agent to visit the Cape Town office”.

In addition to her substantial responsibilities to the wider family, Gretta directly cared for her younger daughter (Esona) and one of her grandchildren (Sibu), both of whom are 14 years old and now in grade 9. Sibu sat next to Gretta during the accident and is still waiting to be operated on her broken leg.

We would like to ensure that the two girls get through high school and ideally their tertiary education, as Gretta would have wanted it. To achieve this, we ask for your help. Any contribution, big or small, will make a difference to the family. Perhaps you have been looking for a worthy cause to donate time and funds to in expression of your love for this country and its people. Supporting (one of) these young and aspiring girls might be the perfect opportunity. I am more than willing to tell you what we know about the family, discuss the concrete needs, modalities, etc. Alternatively or in addition, you may contact Gretta`s sister Yolisa Jim directly. Yolisa`s number is 063 088 6347, and she will be happy to hear from you.

Yolisa has also agreed to receive and administer the donations. She was very close to Gretta and will ensure that any money received will be utilised in Gretta`s spirit, primarily for Esona and Sibu. Her account details are:

Ms JS Jim
Capitec Savings Account
Account no. 1147548208
Branch code 470 010

Should it be easier, you are welcome to alternatively transfer the funds to the IMCOSA account with the reference “Gretta”, and we will gladly pass them on as according to your instructions. For ease of reference, the account details are:

ABSA Bank, Heerengracht, ABSA Centre, Cape Town 8000, South Africa
Cheque Account No. 406 231 4283
Branch Code 506009
ABSA International Code 632 005

In South African culture, the community has always been the primary support system. Thank you for being part of our community in this way. We will keep those who signal their interest updated on the unfolding of this fundraiser.

With deep gratitude,
Julia Willand

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