Massive Home Affairs delay blocks skills, wealth and investment from settling in South Africa: experts

The Department of Home Affairs has announced that it will only resume the processing of permanent residency permits in South Africa from next year.

In a gazette announcing the department’s adjusted level 4 lockdown changes, Home Affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi said that permanent residence permit applications will now only resume on 1 January 2022.

Experts have warned that the delayed processing will come at a significant cost for South Africa – as it will effectively block applicants from entering the country for an extended period of time.

Julian Pokroy, immigration expert and head of the law society’s committee on immigration laws, told Rapport that the new regulations were ludicrous as they effectively blocked skilled and wealthy applicants from seeking permanent residency in the country.

Pokroy said that the change has effectively extended the moratorium period for any new applications to two years.

This, in turn, will block successful entrepreneurs and highly skilled individuals. The change will also damage potential investments into the country, with wealthy individuals with net assets of more than R12 million also blocked, he said.

These concerns were echoed by Leon Isaacson of Global Migration Services who said that the problem was exacerbated by an existing backlog of applications going back nearly six years.

Need for skilled workers

A draft critical skills list published by the Department of Home Affairs in February shows that South Africa needs help in addressing a number of skills shortages.

Marisa Jacobs, director at specialised expatriation company Xpatweb, sid the draft list has been in the pipeline since the release of the White Paper of International Migration for South Africa in 2017.

“The list is encouraging taken the extensive time and research the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) had put into the list and I believe the draft list will entice engagement by the business sector which is so needed when any new policies are implemented.

“There is often much said about how poor legislation is drafted and this list creates a real opportunity for employers to have their say and make their voice heard on the challenges they face in terms of critical skills shortages.

“The preliminary results from the 2021 Xpatweb Annual Critical Skills survey shows that 78% of employers struggle to recruit critically skilled resources and 74% indicate that an international search would help to find these resources.”


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Massive Home Affairs delay blocks skills, wealth and investment from settling in South Africa: experts