New SA Home Affairs Minister Leon Schreiber delivers sweet news to Zimbabweans and other foreigners


In a move that has brought much-needed relief to many foreigners residing in South Africa, the newly appointed Home Affairs Minister, Leon Schreiber, has extended a temporary concession for those awaiting visa decisions. The extension, announced just a day after Schreiber took office, grants foreign nationals legal permission to remain in South Africa until 31 December 2024.

The decision comes as a welcome reprieve for many who were left in a state of uncertainty following the expiration of the previous extension just four days prior. “The delay in the announcement had left many in a panicked state, as they feared that they would be required to depart the Republic of South Africa in the absence of a concession granting them extended status,” said international mobility specialists Xpatweb.

While the extension provides immediate respite, it is a temporary measure that raises several questions about the long-term direction of South Africa’s immigration policy. The previous concession, which expired on 30 June, highlighted the inefficiencies and delays plaguing the Department of Home Affairs. Schreiber has acknowledged these challenges and pledged to address them. “Schreiber has committed to avoid a repeat of the current situation that has seen the previous concession expire prior to the extension being announced,” Xpatweb noted.

The extension applies to a range of visa holders, including those with pending waiver applications, long-term visa applications, and appeals against negative visa decisions. However, it is crucial to note that the extension does not automatically grant permanent residency or citizenship. It merely allows foreign nationals to remain in South Africa while their applications are being processed.

For those with pending waiver applications, the extension provides them with additional time to receive a decision on their application and to apply for appropriate visas if necessary. “Foreign national visa holders with pending waiver applications as of 30 June 2024 will receive a temporary extension until 31 December 2024, allowing the Department to process their applications, applicants to receive their decisions, and applicants to apply for appropriate visas,” Xpatweb explained.

Similarly, long-term visa holders whose applications are still pending will be granted a temporary extension until the end of the year. “Long-term visa holders (for work, business, study, relatives, and accompanying spouses) whose applications remain pending as of 30 June 2024 have also been granted temporary extensions until 31 December 2024,” Xpatweb stated. “Thus maintaining their current visa status.”

However, the extension comes with certain restrictions. Foreign nationals with pending long-term visa applications are prohibited from engaging in activities beyond their current visa conditions. For example, those on a work visa cannot take up a new job that falls outside the scope of their existing visa.

The extension also applies to visa holders who have appealed a negative decision on a long-term visa application. “Visa appeal applicants who need to travel but are awaiting the outcome of an appeal application for a long-term visa will be allowed to exit and re-enter at a port of entry up to and including 31 December 2024 without being declared undesirable,” Xpatweb clarified.

The extension, while a positive step, is not without its limitations. Short-term visa holders who have applied for a renewal but have not yet received a decision are required to exit South Africa within 90 days of their visa expiry date. This measure aligns with the law limiting short-term stays to a total of 180 days.

The extension has been met with cautious optimism by many, with Xpatweb praising Minister Schreiber’s swift action. “Minister Schreiber’s immediate action to extend the concession for foreign nationals underscores a strong commitment to addressing current inefficiencies within the Department of Home Affairs,” Xpatweb stated. “By protecting applicants from adverse consequences and ensuring timely communication of any future changes, the Minister demonstrates a clear vision to enhance South Africa’s attractiveness for international talent, investment, and tourism.”

However, the extension is just a temporary solution. The real challenge lies in addressing the underlying issues within the Department of Home Affairs, such as bureaucratic delays, inadequate resources, and a lack of transparency. The extension provides a much-needed breathing space, but it is crucial that the government takes concrete steps to reform the visa system and make it more efficient and transparent. Only then can South Africa truly become a welcoming destination for foreign talent, investment, and tourism.

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