March 2021 This is an update on permanent residence applications, both those already lodged and those in respect of person.
Since the commencement of the Covid 19 pandemic lockdown on 27 March 2020 in South Africa, no permanent residence applications have been taken in by the Department of Home Affairs or any of its Embassies.
Firstly, because of the fact that the offices of the Department of Home Affairs were closed for the first portion of the lockdown and, secondly, the offices of Visa Facilitation Services “VFS” as well as those of the overseas embassies/high commissions and consular offices of the Department of Home Affairs in other countries were also closed.
Currently, Both the Department of Home Affairs and VFS, acting on instructions from the Department are still not taking in permanent residence applications as at date of writing of this update.
Complicating the matter even further is the fact that the Department in the relevant permanent residence section hardly ever answers the landline phones or respond to email enquiries regarding permanent residence applications in process. Thus making it almost impossible to follow up on such progress, if any.
It would have been expected that during this lockdown, that the staff at the Department could at least attempt to render services, obviously subject to Covid protocols such as social distancing, sanitisation and the wearing of masks, that an attempt would be made to reduce the very considerable backlog in terms of permanent residence applications. However, no evidence of this has been forthcoming.
We are certainly hoping that there will be some movement in the foreseeable immediate future as the situation cannot persist for much longer.
Please be rest assured that we continue to follow up on an ongoing and regular basis and will keep you posted in this regard.
On a positive note, there is some relief for persons who have applied for permanent residence status and been granted a permanent residence, bearing in mind that once a permanent residence permit has been collected, the holder of such permit must into South Africa for purposes of taking up residence no later than 12 months thereafter.
Bearing in mind further that due to the Covid 19 pandemic worldwide and the travel restrictions that flowed from this, many persons in this category who would like to have come to South Africa in order to take up the permanent residence, were prevented from doing so because of the travel restrictions.
The good news is that with effect from 18 March 2021 the Minister of Home Affairs has announced a temporary blanket concession to all permanent residence permit holders who were unable to comply with the provisions of the Immigration Act by coming into South Africa entering for purposes of taking up residence within 12 months, to now enter the country by no later than 31 December 2021.
A further provision of this announcement is that permanent residence permit holders who have been absent from South Africa for a period of three years and on this basis faced the potential loss of the permanent residence status based on that absence, now have an indulgence also until 31 December 2021.
Should you have any queries relating to the above or require further information, then please do not hesitate to contact our office on firstname.lastname@example.org
Julian Pokroy Attorneys