Immigration to South Africa is a messy (home) affair

2012-11-08 10:12

Over the past few years, Home Affairs has really stayed put in the place South African citizens has placed them: the dog box. ID booklets took years to receive, passports were another story altogether, and that was only if you managed to get to the front of the queue with the right documents filled in.

To be frank, this is the story most South Africans would have heard, but many do not know how Home Affairs is for a foreigner coming into our country. Many, many people come into South Africa every single day. Most are on holiday visas of some sort - temporary visas and permits, some of which are issued as they enter. Some unfortunately have entered illegally and are causing great problems for SA in general.

But an increasing number of people are immigrating to South Africa for the right reasons: accompanying their SA spouse/partner, starting a job here on a work permit, coming to SA to study, and so on. These people have no idea what it is like to interact with Home Affairs. A long decade of inefficiencies has made the task of coming to stay in our country that much harder. However, in the last year or so, permit application adjudication times have shortened, in some cases to under 2 weeks. And just when we thought things were improving, we get this article on Home Affairs bungling up immigration to South Africa again.

In the article, Home Affairs has been quoted as stating their legal costs for the last fiscal year, which doubled. Why? Because so many people have taken them to court over poor service delivery. Almost R50 million of taxpayers money has been spent on defending an ineffective government department in court. Why can the Department of Home Affairs not get it right? What do we have to put in place so that it can simply administrate South Africa's immigration affairs?

Some people say we are being too harsh on Home Affairs. Some people state that only South Africans should get the local jobs. We've had xenophobic attacks displayed in the news, and they still continue.

But while many efforts have been made to protect jobs for South Africans (almost every country does this), sometimes a foreigner has the best skills and must be immigrated. Also, if you are married to a foreigner, there simply cannot be a law prohibiting that person from entering the country and having a job as well.

What do you think about immigrants to South Africa? What about Home Affairs? Have you had any experiences with them as a foreigner or as a South African?

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