The dilemma of a rejected visa would usually have two avenues of recourse, filing for an appeal or submitting a new application. However, these routes have become a monumental challenge for visa applicants. The backlog of over 60,000 visa applications and an unprecedented number of rejections have made the avenues for overcoming a rejection difficult to navigate.
These tricky waters have left many applicants with limited options and unsure of where to turn next.
The backlog within the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has persisted reaching an outstanding 62,692 applications. The Minister of the Department of Home Affairs, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi confirmed this number on 29 March 2023 when he announced the second extension for long-term visa holders with pending applications, which aimed to quell this backlog.
However, as it stands, delays continue to persist, especially as the DHA’s resources are now under undue strain. Marisa Jacobs, Managing Director at Xpatweb, says that the backlog and the growing pressure within the DHA could very well be the cause of the increased number of rejections.
The reason for rejected visas ranges from allegedly not meeting certain prescribed requirements, or due to oversight from adjudicators. There is, however, an unprecedented amount of rejected visas in recent months, and Jacobs confirmed that they have “never seen so many rejections” in the market.
Further, many rejections seem to be based on arbitrary grounds. Xpatweb has seen several rejected visas stating that the application was filed under the incorrect category, despite this not being the case, documentation not included in an application when evidence is to the contrary etc. There are also frivolous rejections, and it appears that the quality of adjudication has deteriorated significantly.
Unfortunately, this has made matters far more complex for visa applicants.
Avenues for rejected applicants blocked
Before the backlog, the setback of a rejected visa application was overcome via the appeals process or by submitting a new application. However, as many applicants have an expired status covered by the concession, they do not have viable status to submit a new application.
Their only recourse, then, is to apply for an appeal within 10 days of receiving the outcome. Unfortunately, due to the large number of rejections, the volume of appeals has subsequently increased, placing the DHA appeal section under pressure.
This has resulted in another backlog, this time within the appeals department, and a delay in appeal approvals.
While the hurdles hindering foreign nationals are concerning, all is not lost.
Light at the end of the tunnel
To overcome the challenges of the appeals process, visa applicants should have a strict roadmap and an appeals strategy, which may include –
- Make it clear where and how the adjudicator has incorrectly rejected the application;
- Outline any urgency;
- Be clear, simple, and easy to understand;
- Include any supporting documents for the adjudicator to review; and
- Make sure the submission is “litigation ready” standard.
A way forward
Whilst foreign nationals continue to face hurdles due to the backlog and increased number of rejections, there are still avenues available to them via a strict appeals strategy and application roadmap.
Additionally, with the assistance of immigration experts, applicants may find it easier to navigate the application process. Experts in the field can provide the most optimal solutions, and they can best advise when and if an applicant requires a legal approach.