Home Affairs clears permit backlog

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Pretoria - The Department of Home Affairs has cleared the backlog in permits for foreign nationals who had applied for permanent and temporary residency in South Africa.

Home Affairs Director-General Mkuseli Apleni said measures taken to eliminate the backlog that had developed over the past couple of years had been successful, and the time frame by which the department had committed itself to clear the backlog - the end of the current financial year, 31 March - had been met.

"Applications received up until the end of January 2011 have therefore been adjudicated and permits have been dispatched to the various regional offices. Applications made in February and March this year are currently being processed, the outcomes of which will be communicated to applicants in due course," he said.

In its efforts to address the backlog, the department centralised the process of adjudicating permits. The adjudication is now done at a central hub in Pretoria instead of regional offices.

Additional human resources and IT capacity, as well as the use of effective and efficient project and operations management methods also contributed to resolving the backlog, he said.

"It was necessary to centralise the adjudication of permits so that the department could assume full control of the process while increasing its efficiency, effectiveness and accountability. The possibility for bribery and corruption in the process has therefore been significantly reduced," Apleni explained.

After the applications from the regional offices were consolidated, the permit backlog stood at 56 302.

This included the backlog that had accumulated before November 2010. New applications received up to the end of January 2011 stood at 23 751, putting the total number of applications received at 80 053.

Breaking down the figures further, Apleni said the department adjudicated 6 535 permanent residence permits from foreign nationals, of which 4 601 were approved and 1 934 rejected. 

With regards to temporary residence permits, 70 216 permits were adjudicated with 64 589 approved and 5 627 rejected.

There were 3 302 "special cases" for both types of permits, where the application will have to be reviewed - a process that includes further consultations with the client.

"Although all permits for applications up to the end of January 2011 have been dispatched to the respective offices, applicants must allow a grace period of 14 working days (20 April 2011) from the end of March before they lodge enquiries with the contact centre," he added.

With regards to the processing of applications from Zimbabwean nationals wanting to regularise their stay in South Africa, Apleni said this was process was still being finalised.

After consultations with the Zimbabwean government, the department had agreed to finalise the process by 31 July 2011.

Apleni said the department had adjudicated 119 009 of the more than 275 000 applications from Zimbabwean nationals.

A further 156 753 applications still had to be adjudicated.

The department estimates that it would take 53 working days to complete the adjudication, at the rate of 3 000 adjudications per day.

Of the applications that are still to be adjudicated, 116 960 of them had outstanding information - which included passports, fingerprints and other supporting documents.

The department would be communicating with these applicants requesting them to furnish their outstanding documents or information.