Major win for families delivered by the Constitutional Court!

Friday, the 28th of June, was a huge day for the foreign spouses and children of South Africans. The Constitutional Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to expect spouses and children to leave the country to change their visa status.

Families are split up because foreign nationals can’t change visa status from within South Africa

As our immigration legislation stands, the foreign spouses and children of South Africans on visitor visas cannot change their status in South Africa. Such persons have to return to their home country to apply for a spousal or dependent child visa. This means the family unit is broken up for as long as it takes for Home Affairs to process the visa applications.

Let’s take as an example a family where the wife and child are British. To change their visas, they have to return to the UK, leaving the South African husband behind. The family has no idea for how long they’ll be separated as there is no way of telling how long it’ll take to get an outcome on the visa. It could be weeks or it could be months.

It is clear to see why the Constitutional Court found this to be an unacceptable situation. No family should have to separate for an undetermined amount of time due. It most certainly has a negative effect on the entire family.

Government has 24 months to change the legislation – but VFS is already accepting applications

The Constitutional Court has given the government 24 months to change the South African Immigration Act to reflect their ruling.

The good news is that VFS accepts visa applications from within South Africa from foreign spouses and children as of the first week of July!

The Department of Home Affairs has also instructed South African mission abroad to refrain from endorsing the visitor visas of foreign spouses and children of South African citizens and permanent residents with a condition that no change of status or condition is allowed.

Contact us for assistance with visa status changes

If you or a family member would like to apply for a change of visa status, please get in touch. You can either call us or email us:

  • Phone: +27 (0) 21 424 2460
  • Email:

Alternatively, simply send us a call back request and one of our consultants will contact you instead. Either way, our team will get the ball rolling immediately.