An important judgment was handed down by the Constitutional Court, which relates to asylum seekers and refugees and their right to apply for temporary residence visa or permanent residence permits under the Immigration Act without having to leave the country and await the outcome from home. This is a life-changing decision for thousands of asylum seekers and refugees in South Africa.
As South Africa’s immigration legislation stands at the moment, asylum seekers and refugees have to return home to apply for South African visas or permits. Unfortunately returning home can be very expensive, and some refugees and asylum seekers don’t have valid documentation to enable them to cross South Africa’s border. This made it near impossible for many asylum seekers and refugees to change their legal status in South Africa, essentially leaving them trapped in their current situation indefinitely.
The Constitutional Court has decided that anyone holding an asylum seeker permit, awaiting outcomes on their appeals to rejected applications for refugee status, or who are recognized refugees, may apply for any category of permanent residence from within South Africa – provided the applicant meet the criteria as set out in the Immigration Act. You may apply for temporary residency visas from within South Africa if you meet the visa criteria and first apply for and obtain an exemption from the requirements to apply from your home country.
The Constitutional Court also ruled that it is no longer necessary for individuals in possession of asylum seeker permits or refugees to have a valid passport to apply for or receive Temporary residence permits.
An official go-ahead is needed from Home Affairs before the immigration industry can act. Everyone in the immigration industry is anxiously awaiting a directive, notice or publication from the Department of Home Affairs to put into action the Constitutional Court judgement.
If you’re looking for more immigration information, make sure you get in touch with one of our consultants today.
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