Spouses are 'created' for visa applications, says Aaron Motsoaledi

Such contracts are increasing 'at an alarming rate', says home affairs minister

Ernest Mabuza Journalist
Home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi. File photo.
Home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi. File photo.
Image: Trevor Samson

Home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi says his department does not have backlogs on applications for work permits and visas, but the backlog was on dependency visas which were growing in “leaps and bounds”.

Answering questions during a media briefing on Tuesday, Motsoaledi said the law allowed a foreigner who is a spouse of a South African citizen to apply for a spousal visa. 

“Unfortunately, we are reaching a situation where spouses are created, They are created where they do not exist.” 

Motsoaledi said this was made possible because a couple can go to a notary general (some lawyers are notary generals), for a contract stating they are partners. 

“Then you bring that to home affairs, they regard you as a spouse. The number of notarial contracts is increasing day by day. But when we send immigration officers to visit such families, they never find any spouses, and yet we have a document here that says we must issue a spousal visa because there is a notarial contract.” 

Motsoaledi said what was alarming was that the number of such contracts was increasing. 

He said the visits to check for these spouses can go on for six months.

“What are we supposed to do? This is a conundrum and a problem that we are going to change. Unfortunately it is in the law.” 

Yusuf Simons, who was acting deputy director-general of immigration and now heads home affairs in the Western Cape, said almost 90% if not more of the backlog applications were in the relative and spousal categories.

“There is a lot of abuse in this regard. What delays the processing of those applications is the existence of the marriage that is difficult to determine. Often spouses do not live together.” 

Simons said resources did not allow immigration officials to do house visits. 

“Even the contact numbers in applications are not in existence. That makes our task extremely difficult.”

The detailed statistics on the backlog on the spousal visa applications was not immediately available at the media briefing on Tuesday.


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