“We strongly suggest that all visa applicants utilize the services of an immigration professional from the word ‘go’,” said immigration expert Robbie Ragless CEO of New World Immigration in response to the Cape Times article.
His wife Kelly was granted a two-year spousal visa in 2013 and she applied to renew it on July 31. The couple had also informed Home Affairs of their plans to holiday in New Zealand in December and that the issue of a spousal visa was urgent reports the Cape Times.
But with no progress being made by Home Affairs to settle the visa and with their flights to New Zealand drawing closer, Vollenhoven found out that his wife’s two-year spousal visa had been granted and printed in Pretoria, but that it had not been dispatched to Visa Facilitation Services (VFS) in Cape Town.
“On November 25, I sought assistance via e-mail from one of the senior officials at Home Affairs. He replied on December 8 that the matter would be attended to and resolved within four working days (if not done so already). I replied that we fly out on December 11 and that four days would be too long. To date I have not received any further reply,” Vollenhoven told Cape Times.
Now desperate, he went to the Home Affairs office in central Cape Town on December 11, and was promised the visa could be reprinted and dispatched to the Johannesburg office of VFS by midday on December 11.
The couple were shocked to find, despite promises, that immigration officials at OR Tambo had not flagged her. And when she and the children left for New Zealand, she was instead declared an “undesirable person” and banned from entering South Africa for a year.
While his immigration lawyer lodged an appeal with Home Affairs, Vollenhoven says the ban meant his wife could not return to Cape Town next week.
“We acted in good faith at all times. The decision is unconstitutional. There is a lack of accountability within the DHA and VFS and no support for South African citizens,” said Vollenhoven.
Home Affairs Department spokesperson Thabo Makgola referred enquiries to Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba’s spokesperson, Mayihlome Tshwete, who did not respond to several calls and text messages logged by the Cape Times reporter.
“This is a very frustrating and unfortunate problem facing many visa applicants in South Africa. While we work closely with the Department of Home Affairs and have more often than not experienced good service, this type of thing does happen,” commented Ragless.
“Registered immigration practitioners are informed and up to date with the latest rules and regulations which will ensure that your application is correct and complete.
“With additional access to the Department’s system an immigration practitioner is also privy to much more information about the status of your application than you will have – enabling them to keep track of your visa while pre-empting and taking the necessary actions to avoid un due delays.”
Ragless adds that applying for a visa directly from the Department of Home Affairs could be a risky business for those unfamiliar with the necessary red tape.