Permanent Residence in SA – latest developments

Permanent Residence in SA – latest developments

Currently we are experiencing inconsistencies in the processing of Permanent Residence (PR) applications. In a recent article in our blog and newsletter, we shared the information gazetted by the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), that over 4.600 old applications might be lost.

This refers to PR applications submitted prior to the introduction of VFS in June 2014, a private company now handling the submission and collection of applications on behalf of DHA, as well as their safe transport to DHA Pretoria.

IBN can proudly confirm, that we have no applications left outstanding on this list, which were still submitted directly to DHA. We have checked the entire list for familiar names. Found a few, but those clients have all long had their PR’s issued. So we don’t know what happened to the remaining old applicants, but believe that many have either been solved or moved on.

However all is still not good with DHA. A new backlog is currently created, as we have indeed PR applications outstanding since December 2014. Those have of course been submitted via VFS and can be tracked. All VFS confirms though is that they were handed to DHA typically a day or two after submission.

No further updates are available. We are currently pressuring DHA to process these long overdue applications, as common practice expects DHA to make decisions within 8 month.

There are always rumors that certain categories of PR applications are adjudicated with priority. This appears to be true for PR based on Critical Skills and also for Business Investors. We received PR Business back recently 2 times after only 6 month and now 2 times even after only 2 month! Whether or not those applications have just been taken from the top of the pile in Pretoria or if it is intentionally indeed to focus on these important categories, is still difficult to say. Consistency is not a word often used when describing DHA.

The big backlog is experienced in the retirement and relative category. Here we also receive the majority of rejections. Most of those are very vague “You failed to sufficiently prove your retirement income” which of course is incorrect, or DHA claims that the relative citizen or PR holder cannot financially support the applicant. Needless to say, the appeals departments within DHA is overloaded and absolutely nothing has been coming out of it for almost 2 years now.

One would also expect the category “PR based on Financial Independence” to be fast tracked, as this requires an additional administration fee of R120.000 payable to the ever cash strapped DHA. But based on our experience we cannot confirm any preferential treatment here. Otherwise we would surely recommend it more.

So as always in our profession, there is light and shadow. Understandably critical skills and investors are urgently needed in South Africa. The “Relative” definition is rather wide in the Immigration Act and one could assume therefore getting unpopular with DHA, especially as it opens the door to many “economic refugees” from Africa and Asia.

Why the retirement PR’s are currently receiving such bad treatment escapes us. Typically those clients do nothing else but spending their pensions on a good lifestyle and therefore supporting the local economy. Their money could also go to Spain, Miami or Thailand. If one speaks to restaurant or wine farm owners in the Cape, this could become a real problem.

Good news is that the temporary residence visas for retirees are issued for 4 years at a time and can relatively easy be extended. But who wants to retire only to be confronted with uncertainty and unnecessary admin? Home Affairs, please reconsider.

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