By Dr Rory Jubber (DA Abroad Leader) and Adrian Roos MP (DA Deputy Shadow Minister of Home Affairs)
A residency permit crisis looms for South Africans living abroad as some have started to get orders to leave due to expired passports.
South Africans living, working and studying abroad wait six to twelve months for their passport renewals. In stark comparison, India recently announced a two day to two week turnaround time for their nationals renewing passports abroad.
The COVID-19 pandemic has only worsened an already unacceptable situation with South African embassies closed and South Africans citizens stranded.
Many embassies that are now open have four to six week waiting lists just to apply for a passport renewal.
Section 21(4) of the Constitution grants every citizen the right to a passport and for those South Africans living abroad the expiry of their passport means they face dire consequences for their immigration status, work, and ability to access healthcare
It is an untenable situation and the Democratic Alliance (DA) wrote to the Minister of Home Affairs, Aaron Motsoaledi, to request that his department finds some mechanism to grant South Africans an emergency validity extension to their passports.
From media statements by the Minister, it is clear he does not understand the problems that South Africans living abroad are confronted with when they are unable to renew their documents in a timely manner. South Africans living abroad do not only need their passports to return to South Africa.
They need their South African passports and other documents to be able to function legally in their countries of residence; to work, to remain as legal residents and to access vital services like healthcare and education.
Therefore, to assist South Africans abroad, the DA and SAPeople will petition the Minister of Home Affairs to:
- Ensure South Africans living, working and studying abroad who are facing long waits for their renewed passports have an emergency extension to their passport that covers the 6-12 month average wait.
- Co-ordinate with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation to ensure all facilities where applications are made abroad are fully open for business and are Covid-19 safety compliant.
- Put in place measures to reduce the turnaround time for passport applications from abroad including electronic applications at larger missions and the option to courier applications.
The DA and SAPeople will not stand idly by when South African citizens are in need and will continue to fight for freedom, fairness and opportunity for South Africans at home and abroad.
Show your support and sign the petition.