Articles

Articles

10. Jun. 2020 SBS

COVID-19 impact on visa processing times: ‘Visas continue to be processed, though some applications may take longer’

• International lockdowns to contain the COVID-19 outbreak have
triggered visa processing issues across the globe, leading to
“significant” processing delays due unavailability of key
assessment services and the consequent inability of applicants to
meet visa criteria.
In response to SBS Punjabi’s query, a spokesperson for the
Department of Home Affairs said: “Visas continue to be processed
during the coronavirus pandemic, though some applications may take
longer as international shutdowns have made it difficult to source
supplementary information like health and character checks.”
Highlights:
• `Visa applications continue to be processed during the
coronavirus pandemic,` says Home Affairs
• Offshore partner visa applicants `worst-affected` by
processing delays, say migration agents
• Waiting periods for partner visa, student visa and skilled
visa categories likely to increase further
Migration agents claim while the impact has been felt across the
board, certain subclasses, including partner visas, student visas
and skilled nominated visas have been worst-affected.

According to the Department of Home Affairs, global waiting times
for offshore partner visa to be processed has risen to almost two
years.
Getty Images on partner visas:
Australians married to someone who is not an Australian resident
will have to wait even longer to be with their spouses or de facto
partners, as processing times stretch for offshore partner visa
applications amid the outbreak.
According to the Department of Home Affairs, global waiting times
for these visas to be processed has risen to almost two years.
Melbourne-based migration agent Ranbir Singh said until all source
countries find a way to contain the pandemic, there is a
possibility that the processing times may balloon further in times
to come.
“The waiting period for subclass 309 Partner (Provisional) visa
has been horrendous even in the pre-pandemic times, but now it has
stretched beyond a reasonable time-frame and could blow further in
months to come. People deserve value for money and faster
decisions for this subclass,” said Mr Singh.
He added that earlier he would advise his offshore partner visa
clients to apply for a tourist visa while their application was
under process.
“But now the international travel ban has also taken away that
option from applicants, which means Australians who has a partner
or is married to a person from outside the country will have to
wait for a very long time to start their lives in Australia,” he
added.
Last month, Labor MP Julian Hill had called the federal government
to address the estimated backlog of up to 100,000 partner visa
applications to kick start migration after the pandemic subsides.
`Right now, understandably with the borders closed, we`ve seen
migration stall, so the low-hanging fruit would seem to be the
backlog of partner visas ... [It`s] the logical place to kick
start our migration program,` he said.
Mr Hill did not specify how many more partner visas should be
issued but said that the approvals should be `demand-driven`.
`Provided you`ve got the right integrity measures, and that you`re
weeding out dodgy applications or non-genuine relationships ... I
think Australians should have the right to fall in love and marry
people from overseas and have their husband or wife come to
Australia.`

`It seems processing of offshore student visas has been put on
hold,` claim migration agents
Abhas Parajuli/SBS
Impact on student visas:
Prospective students whose applications are currently under
process will need to wait for the Department of Home Affairs to
make a decision on their visas and would only be allowed to travel
to Australia once the ban is lifted.
Migration agent Navjot Kailay said the common consensus is that
the Department does not seem to be processing offshore student
visas at the time.
“We have not received any offshore grants recently and there is no
sense in lodging new applications at the time because even if they
do get approval, international students have not yet been exempted
from the current travel ban. So, I’d advise prospective students
to wait for the borders to open, otherwise, you will just be
paying the fee and eventually would have to apply for a deferral
of your course,” said Mr Kailay.
Impact on skilled nominated visas:
Offshore delivery of the skilled migration program has also been
considerably impacted as a result of the COVID-19 induced
shutdowns across the globe.
The number of invites for the skilled independent subclass 189
visa, which allows the visa holder to live permanently anywhere in
Australia, was only 50 in April ` down from 1,750 in March.
While 491 provisional visa which requires skilled migrants to live
in regional areas, also suffered a dip in the number of invites.
Mr Kailay said the numbers are aligned with the federal
government’s policy which is expected to steer towards supporting
Australian workers during the country’s economic recovery and
beyond.
“While there is no official confirmation, but whenever there has
been unemployment in the country, it is bound to have an impact on
overseas skilled migration. The government has already indicated
that net overseas migration will fall 30 per cent this year and 85
per cent in the next financial year,” he said.

While the federal government has reiterated that it’s too early to
talk about post-pandemic changes to the country’s migration
program, Acting Immigration Minister has indicated that migrants
with skills critical to the country’s response to COVID-19 and
economic recovery could be allowed into the country before the
international travel ban is lifted.
“Sometimes you do have very high skilled workers who are critical
for the functioning of a business. It might be in my space, for
example, in the infrastructure space, one of my other portfolios,
that someone who`s a very high skilled person operates some of the
drilling machines to bore the big tunnels. Now, if you don`t have
that skilled person there to do that, it puts at risk the rest of
the project.
“There will be categories like that which we will have to be
thinking about and ensuring that it doesn`t impede the progress of
the businesses being able to snap back,” Minister Tudge told the
ABC.
People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from
others. Find out what restrictions are in place for your state or
territory.
www.samigration.com V.5123

10. Jun. 2020 SBS

COVID-19 impact on visa processing times: ‘Visas continue to be processed, though some applications may take longer’

Amid speculations surrounding offshore visa processing, the Department of Home Affairs has clarified that visa applications continue to be processed during the coronavirus pandemic, but decision delays cannot be ruled out. V.5123

Click here for full article
04. Jun. 2020 SA People

PLEAS for DIRCO to Help Repatriate South Africans, and Urgent Court Application Issued

Pleas for DIRCO to help South Africans stranded abroad, or stuck in SA with jobs abroad, have increased as many run out of money, medicine and hope. The DA today issued a call for Dirco to liaise better with embassies in helping get citizens home; and AfriForum this morning issued urgent court papers in an effort to find solutions to the many problems facing South African citizens needing repatriation, including the fact that they are still required to spend a minimum of 14 days in quarantine in a state facility, while most have the ability and would prefer to isolate themselves. V.5116

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04. Jun. 2020 News24

Mango to restart flights

Mango Airlines will resume flights on Monday, June 15, between Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. Travellers must present a travel permit and letter from their employer authorising business travel. This will be checked at the entrance to airports and again at check-in and boarding, says CEO, Nico Bezuidenhout. “Important enough to say it twice: if a traveller does not have a relevant permit for essential or business travel with the appropriate sign-off, the traveller will not be granted access to the airport and may subsequently forfeit the purchased ticket.” V.5117

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04. Jun. 2020 News 24

PLEAS for DIRCO to Help Repatriate South Africans, and Urgent Court Application Issued

Pleas for DIRCO to help South Africans stranded abroad, or stuck in SA with jobs abroad, have increased as many run out of money, medicine and hope. The DA today issued a call for Dirco to liaise better with embassies in helping get citizens home; and AfriForum this morning issued urgent court papers in an effort to find solutions to the many problems facing South African citizens needing repatriation, including the fact that they are still required to spend a minimum of 14 days in quarantine in a state facility, while most have the ability and would prefer to isolate themselves. V.5118

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04. Jun. 2020 News 24

Here is what the High Court said about the various lockdown regulations

Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma (GCIS) • High Court Judge Norman Davis has given Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma 14 days to amend lockdown regulations, however, the national state of disaster is set to lapse before that deadline. • Davis has slammed some of the regulations, saying there are millions of South Africans who operate in the informal sector, who have lost their livelihoods. • Davis says in the case of hairdressers, a single mother and sole provider for her family is stripped of her rights of dignity, equality, to earn a living and to provide for the best interest of her children. V.5119

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04. Jun. 2020 News 24

Covid-19 in SA: Death toll now at 848 as number of cases surge past 40 000

The Covid-19 death toll has hit 848, after 56 more people died - 54 of whom were from the epicentre Western Cape. The number of cases rose by 3 267 to 40 792. The number of recoveries is 21 311. The government is set to appeal a court judgment handed down this week which declared the lockdown regulations for Levels 3 and 4 unconstitutional. This came as the government also announced that a state of disaster will be extended until 15 July. Here is what the courts found in the ruling. V.5120

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04. Jun. 2020 News 24

Mango to restart flights

Mango Airlines will resume flights on Monday, June 15, between Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. Travellers must present a travel permit and letter from their employer authorising business travel. This will be checked at the entrance to airports and again at check-in and boarding, says CEO, Nico Bezuidenhout. “Important enough to say it twice: if a traveller does not have a relevant permit for essential or business travel with the appropriate sign-off, the traveller will not be granted access to the airport and may subsequently forfeit the purchased ticket.” V.5121

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03. Jun. 2020

South Africa: COVID-19 - Bank Accused of Freezing Asylum Seekers` Accounts During Lockdown

First National Bank has been accused of freezing the accounts of asylum seekers whose permits have expired during lockdown. Refugees can`t renew permits because offices are closed A Zimbabwean asylum seeker says First National Bank (FNB) froze his account when his asylum papers expired during lockdown in spite of explanations from the Department of Home Affairs that refugee offices are closed. According to People Against Suffering and Oppression (PASSOP), his is one of at least ten accounts which have been frozen in the same way. V.5115

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02. Jun. 2020 Business Day

Home affairs seeks extension of VFS Global visa contract The department wants to extend the contract until it is ready to launch a public-private partnership

The department of home affairs has recommended the extension of the contract of its front-end visa handling operator until it is ready to launch a public-private partnership with a new service provider to undertake the work. The contract with VFS Global expires at the end of December but home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi told parliament’s home affairs committee on Tuesday that this was not enough time to finalise the public-private partnership, especially given the constraints imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown. V.5114

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30. May. 2020 IOL

Over 300 illegal foreigners arrested for trying to enter SA during lockdown

Cape Town - Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has revealed that his department has found an increase of more than 300 foreigners trying to enter the country during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown amid the questions in the Beitbridge border post fencing. V.5113

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30. May. 2020 IOL

Over 300 illegal foreigners arrested for trying to enter SA during lockdown

Cape Town - Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has revealed that his department has found an increase of more than 300 foreigners trying to enter the country during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown amid the questions in the Beitbridge border post fencing. V.5122

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27. May. 2020 Travel Reporter

What South Africans leaving the country for essential travel should know

South Africans who are considering to travel to countries of work or study will need to show the relevant documents before it is approved. This follows Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi`s announcement over the weekend that South Africans who work and study abroad can return to the countries where they are based from June 1, 2020. Motsoaledi, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation and the National Coronavirus Command Council, approved essential travel for South Africans who want to return to countries where they are based. Home Affairs said South Africans can only depart for work, study, family reunion, take up permanent residency or receive medical attention. No leisure travel will be permitted. V.5108

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27. May. 2020 BBC

Zambia probes Chinese clothes factory murders

Police in Zambia have arrested three people suspected of murdering three Chinese nationals, dragging the bodies into a factory and setting it alight. Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo has promised a full investigation into Sunday`s `barbaric` crime. It took place at the Chinese-owned Blue Star clothing factory. The attack comes amid a controversial crackdown in the capital, Lusaka, on Chinese businesses accused of discriminating against Zambians. There has also been tension over reports that Chinese factory managers have been forcing employees to sleep at work to stop the spread of coronavirus, the BBC`s Kennedy Gondwe reports from Lusaka. V.5109

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27. May. 2020 The Hindu

Coronavirus | States to clear operation of international flights

Stranded passengers told to register with Indian missions, download Aarogya Setu App The Ministry of Civil Aviation has issued a Standard Operating Protocol (SOP) for private aircraft and charter operations on international sectors in view of COVID-19 pandemic. However, the flights would be allowed subject to the clearance from the respective State/Union Territory Governments. The new guidelines follow the instructions of the Ministry of Home Affairs permitting private aircrafts and international charter operations to bring back many Indians who had travelled to different countries before the lockdown on various purposes - employment, tourism, business studies etc - and were stranded there. V.5110

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27. May. 2020 News 24

It takes most foreign-trained doctors months to register in SA. How did Cuban health workers do it in 3 days?

Most foreign-trained doctors spend months trying to register with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA), but visiting Cuban healthcare workers waited just three days - and the HPCSA may have the power to make this possible for more foreign- trained doctors sitting on the sidelines of the Covid-19 response. On Monday, Gauteng welcomed 28 Cuban doctors to assist in the province`s response to the Covid-19 outbreak. The group is part of the 187 healthcare workers who arrived from the Caribbean nation on 27 April and are being deployed around the country. Cuba is known for its strong primary healthcare systems that helped it achieve one of the world`s highest life expectancies, according to World Bank data, despite spending less per person on health than many other nations. It also has a long-standing partnership with South Africa when it comes to health care. But the arrival of Cuban healthcare workers came as many foreign- trained doctors in South Africa said they were s V.5112

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23. May. 2020 Channel 4 Music

29 South African artists repatriated from Turkey

In a statement released on Saturday, the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture and the Department of International Relations and Cooperation announced the repatriation of 29 musicians and artists who were stranded in Turkey. According to the statement, `the group was meant to fly home, when flights were grounded due to the coronavirus pandemic.` V.5111

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19. May. 2020 News24

Home Affairs considers marriage registrations during Level 3

While it is clearing the backlog in birth registrations created by Level 5, the Department of Home Affairs is considering allowing the registration of marriages when the country moves to Level 3. This after the department addressed a portfolio committee on Tuesday. V.5102

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18. May. 2020 Africacheck

How to talk about migration in South Africa

The words used to describe migration can be confusing, but definitions are important when we discuss the movements of people. We look at the most common terms. The Covid-19 pandemic has brought many countries, and the movement of people, to a near standstill. As the world looks to restart, migration will again be at the fore, with South Africa likely to be a key part of this. V.5103

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13. May. 2020 All Africa

South Africa: Migrants Excluded From Government Food Aid

All around South Africa, migrants, refugees and asylum seekers who have mostly been left out of the government`s official response to the food crisis are going hungry. For Alice Munyanyiwa, a cup of tea has become a luxury she can barely afford. V.5098

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12. May. 2020 KCTV5

Australia faces `sobering` future economy due to coronavirus

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) ` Australia`s treasurer said Tuesday the country faces a “sobering” economic outlook due to the effects of the coronavirus and will have its largest-ever deficit when a revised budget is released in October. The 2020-21 federal budget was due to be released Tuesday. But the government was forced to delay it until it assesses the full economic cost of the coronavirus. V.5100

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Articles

10. Jun. 2020 SBS

COVID-19 impact on visa processing times: ‘Visas continue to be processed, though some applications may take longer’

Amid speculations surrounding offshore visa processing, the Department of Home Affairs has clarified that visa applications continue to be processed during the coronavirus pandemic, but decision delays cannot be ruled out. V.5123

Click here for full article

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