Unfortunately, as most people will have experienced, dealing with the Department of Home Affairs can be at best frustrating and at times simply unbearable. Good news stories with regards to their service levels and openness to assist immigrants are extremely rare.
Whilst the situation was manageable, in the main, up to about 2 years ago, attempts by the Department to streamline operations and cut out fraudulent activities have resulted in even more delays and what can only be described as a ‘black hole’ of missing applications.
The creation of a central hub (that would take responsibility for issuing permits and processing applications) resulted in a huge backlog of applications and with the regional Department offices demoted to little more than a collection and delivery point with little ability to provide anything in the way of feedback.
Whilst it has been hard to ascertain actual figures, industry stakeholders place the created back log at between 40,000 – 60,000 applications.
The Department of Home Affairs has consistently given misinformation concerning these applications and the delays. We have experienced feedback directly to us and in the media a circle of denial and acceptance, but little in the way progress. In reality many applications have been lost or simply not processed.
Every effort has been made by Intergate Immigration, other industry companies and the Immigration Practitioners Association to communicate with the Department to resolve these applications but to no avail.
Whilst applications submitted more recently are indeed being processed, in the main within a semi reasonable time frame, this black hole of missing applications dates back many many months.
After consulting with our legal team and clients, Intergate decided that all avenues have been explored to resolve these outstanding applications and the only remaining options was court action.
Group Chairman, Nico le Roux states, “This is the last route that either Intergate or its clients wanted to take. However action needs to be taken as peoples lives are being put on hold by the Departments inability to meet their own specified time frames for permit decisions.”
“Many in the industry are simply sitting and waiting for Home Affairs to take some sort of action to address their inefficiencies, but eventually one has to say enough is enough. We pride ourselves on supporting our clients and we cannot simply sit back and continue to wait whilst some of them are facing very distressing circumstances.”
Initial papers have been submitted to the courts with founding affidavits heard by the judge. Reflecting the serious nature of the case, the action has been placed on the semi fast track roll with the Department of Home Affairs having been given until the 25th May to file their answering affidavit.
Le Roux goes on to say “Since we submitted the court case around 25% of all these outstanding applications have been issued. It is our sincere hope that the Department continues with their progress on these cases and they are concluded quickly. If not we are thoroughly prepared and confident in our court application. In reality all we are asking is for the Department to do their job in a sensible time frame, allow us to do ours, and most importantly for our clients to receive a decision on their permit applications in a sensible period to time”