Migration and immigrants’ rights and status in South Africa

Migration and immigrants’ rights and status in South Africa

Migration and immigrants’ rights and status in South Africa

/ SOCIETE / Saturday, 22 May 2021 22:11

source photo: https://theconversation.com/how-south-africa-is-denying-refugees-their-rights-what-needs-to-change-135692

By Gloriose Ntirenganya

 South Africa biggest country

The Republic of South Africa, the ninth biggest country in Africa, is the southernmost country in Africa with over 59 million people. Its total surface area is around 122 million square kilometers.

The South Africa People speak English and African languages. South Africa has different ethnic groups; the Majority of South Africans are black, white, Colored and South Asians.

South Africa is has many international migrants. Most immigrants come to South Africa to escape political violence, war and poverty destitution in their own countries.  

The number of   foreigners in South Africa is around 4.2 Million.  The majority are from Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Democratic Republic of Congo.

Refugee status and Asylum

When a person enters the Republic  of  South Africa seeking  asylum, is given a permit of immigration that is valid for a period of 14 days only and is required to report to nearest refugee reception office in order to apply for asylum.

The permit is valid for a period of six or three months for the asylum seeker to stay in the Republic of South Africa temporarily pending a final decision on his/her application. The permit can be extended by Refugee Reception Office (RRO) for a further six or three months while the process of status determination is in progress.  

In case of rejection, an asylum seeker or refugee who has the right to appeal and review process in 30 days in the office of Refugees   appeal Board (RAB)  after the decision has been handed over to them.

The permit holders who have been in South Africa for more than five years have the right to apply for permanent residences. This is a right that is recognized as a refugee status not as asylum seeking status.

As opposed to many other countries, South Africa has no refugee camps.  Both asylum seekers and refugees have the right to seek employment in South Africa and protected against deportation to their country of origin.  Refugees and asylum seekers and permanent residents have the same right to access healthcare as South African citizens, that is, they must be treated the same as South Africans.

Agreement to deal with backlog of asylum seekers signed by Home Affairs

South Africa is one country from Africa that has been known for championing human rights and  has been a generous host to people fleeing conflict and persecution from across the African continent and beyond;

Home affairs Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi signed partnership with the United National High Commissioner for refugees to eliminate a backlog in the Asylum seeker system.  Over 15,300 asylum seekers who have been waiting for many years for a decision on their application for asylum will have their cases heard and decided, thanks to new agreement signed by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the Department of Home Affairs.

Minister Motsoaled said that he is happy with the partnership between UNHCR and the Government and people of South Africa in eliminating the backlog in the asylum seeker system. 

Home affairs Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi said that they are firmly on the path of modernizing their immigration laws, focusing the system  and improving processes and South Africa is committed to offering protection to people who genuinely need it.

This agreement sets in motion a project to eliminate delays and the backlog in asylum decision in a bid to revamp the refugee management system by 2024.  This project also supports efforts to maintain social cohesion between refugee and host communities.


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