Life Partners stopped from working?


Young Couple
Life partners stopped from working?

 Are Life Partners stopped from working under the new immigration regulations?

Much has been done in the last few weeks to clarify certain aspects of the new immigration rules. This unfortunately does not however mean we are now operating in an environment where everything is fair.

Many life partners are now in a very unclear position as to whether they are able to endorse their existing life partner visa’s to enable them to work, or whether they as life partners, have now been stopped from working by the new regulations.

The subject of life partners has been one that has garnered much discussion with views ranging widely. 

The new 2 year co-habitation requirement has equally been praised in some quarters and derided in others. In some cases this requirement has been labelled unconstitutional and against human rights and in others as ‘fair and square’.

This article is not written to discuss the merits of the 2 year cohabitation rule for life partners, nor to argue that the life partner visa was, or was not, a previously ‘abused’ visa category. The disparity of the regulations for life partners against those of spouses remains a concern and will surely be challenged at some point, but this article is about a very basic human right – the right to work.

Are Life Partners stopped from working under the new immigration regulations?

Disconcertingly, existing life partner visa holders now have their right to work brought into contention. To put it into context:

  • these are law abiding life partners of South African Citizens or Permanent Residents,
  • they have been vetted and approved by the Department of Home Affairs,
  • they are already in South Africa.

The new 2 year cohabitation rule for life partners dictates an overriding requirement that means applicants must show 2 years cohabitation. The old rules did not.

Further it has been precedented in law that the partner of the South African Citizen or Permanent Resident, has the absolute right to earn an income. The removal of such a right is considered to have a profound effect on the persons inherent dignity and the right to have their dignity respected and protected.

Following court rulings we saw the introduction of an ‘ endorsement system’. One where the holder of a life partner or spousal visa could apply, for example, for a work endorsement. This then negated the need for them to go through the normal rigours associated with a work visa application.

In reality for those life partners seeking employment, it is more often than not the case, that they are unable to secure a position with an employer until arriving in South Africa. So often the visa process is a two stop process, first being the life partner visa and secondly a subsequent endorsement. The application process for an endorsement faces much the same criteria as of that for the actual life partner visa.

It is this that causes the problem.

Let us take for example a young lady called Sarah, she has left the UK 5 months ago with her South African life partner. They have been a couple for 3 years and lived together for 12 months.

Sarah obtained her life partner visa before coming to South Africa (in March of this year under the old rules). She had no joy job hunting whilst abroad as most employers wanted to meet her face to face. On arrival she started attending interviews and just this week got offered a position.

Sarah now needs to apply for an endorsement to be able to legally work at her prospective new employer.

Unfortunately she cannot prove the now required 2 years co habitation. Therefore if she submits an application it may well be turned down – there is no specified exception to this in the new regulations.

Sarah is therefore a life partner who has essentially been stopped from working and stopped from financially contributing to the family budget.

Legally living in South Africa, approved through the correct immigration channels and now a victim of a very unfair new set of regulations that stop her from working.