For some immigration representatives, April 3rd started as a normal day while waiting for the Department of Home Affairs Cape Town to open its’ doors in order to do their daily permit application submissions. This day turned out to be one of their more difficult days as they were advised they could not do their jobs or even enter the building, for that matter.
Most immigration practitioners, attorneys and lawyers make use of representatives to submit and follow up on permit applications on behalf of them. These representatives were denied access to the building as Home Affairs in Cape Town and other branches apparently received a directive from Pretoria. This directive explained that ONLY practitioners, attorneys and lawyers, who holds power of attorney on applications are allowed to submit such applications OR the applicant self. This certainly caused a massive inconvenience to everybody in this industry.
Quite a few practitioners and attorneys met to discuss this urgent issue and forced Home Affairs to open its’ doors to their representatives again. According to these practitioners and attorneys, it was both unlawful and unprofessional of Home Affairs to step to such a level. The notice was unlawful for some of the following reasons:
– No practitioner, attorney or lawyer was consulted about this action
– It physically barred the representative from entering a public / government building
– Section 46(1) of the Immigration Act states “No one other than attorney, advocate, IP may conduct trade of representing another person in the proceedings or procedures flowing from the Act” The messenger is not conducting the trade – this is done by the Immigration Practitioner, attorney in the office where applications are signed off etc by that power of attorney holder. The clerk or messenger is merely delivering documents.
On 5 April, things returned to normal and representatives could once again submit applications. As South Africa awaits the new Immigration law, one could certainly see this directive was created to start implementing this new law. However, without the new immigration regulations, no new law can be acted on as yet. One of these major changes would be that no one other than the applicant self will be able to submit his or her permit application in the Republic. Once again, it is our recommendation to all companies employing foreign nationals or individuals to submit their permit applications at their nearest South African Embassy or Consulate in their respective home countries.