Home Affairs saddled with 92 000 visa backlog

The backlog of visa applications stood at 92 157 as at the end of January, up from 74 309 recorded in August 2023.

The backlog of visa applications stood at 92 157 as at the end of January, up from 74 309 recorded in August 2023.

Published May 9, 2024


The backlog of visa applications has increased by 20 000 in a space of about five months as at the end of January.

Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said the visa backlogs stood at 92 157 at the end of January.

This was up from 74 309 recorded in August 2023.

This emerged when Motsoaledi was responding to parliamentary questions from DA MP Angel Khanyile.

In his response, Motsoaledi said the critical skills, business and general work visas that formed part of the annual performance plan have no backlogs as at January 31.

“Majority of the delays and backlogs are on two visa categories. They are section 11(6) and section 18 visas for spouse and relatives respectively.”

He said the department experienced challenges concerning the legitimacy of relationships being claimed and cited in the applications.

“It must be noted that some foreign nationals have taken advantage and followed corrupt methods to legitimise themselves, family members, friends and others.

“The backlog stands at 79 916. Eighty-five percent of the backlog falls under these two categories where massive corruption and collusion was detected.”

Khanyile said the increase in visa backlogs went against what Motsoaledi told the home affairs portfolio committee in March.

“The committee was told that the Department of Home Affairs would be appointing officials with the necessary qualifications to assist with the backlog, yet the backlog just keeps getting worse,” she said.

She said despite claims that the department would prioritise visitor visas, the number of visitor visas for spouses married to South Africans was sitting at a 41 083 backlog.

Khanyile noted with concern that Motsoaledi claimed that the visa backlogs were high due to challenges concerning the legitimacy of the relationship being claimed.

“The minister continues to reuse this line but is unable to state what is being done to address the issue. Why is nothing being done to fix this situation and why in this day and age is it so hard for the Department of Home Affairs to verify a marriage?” she asked.

Khanyile said the department should stop making excuses and get its house in order.

“The backlogs have created ample opportunity for corruption to thrive and fraudulent documents to be issued to undeserving people,” she added.

Motsoaledi said fraudulent marriages, marriages of convenience and a special category of cohabitation were unfortunately on the increase.

“The department has to prove the legitimacy of these relationships as well as their notarial contracts,” he said.

Motsoaledi added that it was widely known that the department did not have sufficient capacity such as immigration officers who have to be tasked in investigating the authenticity of such relationships.

Cape Times