Regulatory Waivers

Applicant must be in possession of a valid refugee or immigration status

The Minister is empowered in terms of the Immigration Act to “waive” any regulatory requirement or form.  A foreigner may apply for such waiver on the basis that “good cause” exists for the granting of such waiver.

The term “good cause” has never been defined, either in terms of legislation or by the South African judiciary.  In practical terms an applicant must demonstrate that there is compelling justification for the waiving of a regulatory requirement or form, and if the Department of Home Affairs (on behalf of the Minister) determines that a violation of a constitutional right, or an irrational consequence, will arise by a refusal to grant such waiver, waivers are normally granted.

Here are a few examples of waiver applications:

  • A foreigner, sojourning in South Africa, has in the past submitted police clearance certificates from his country of residence of more than 12 months since his 18th One of those countries is Saudi Arabia.  Since his last submission to the Department of Home Affairs of his Saudi Arabian police clearance certificate he has never returned to such country.  He now intends to apply for permanent residence in South Africa and will, in terms of Immigration Regulation 23(2)(e) require a police clearance certificate from Saudi Arabia.  Since he will not be able to acquire a new Saudi Arabian police clearance certificate without, at great expense and inconvenience, returning to that country physically to obtain one, he applies for a waiver from the aforementioned regulatory requirement in relation to a Saudi Arabian police clearance certificate.  Such applications have been largely successful.
  • A refugee sojourning in South Africa in terms of the Refugees Act wishes to apply for a critical skills work visa in terms of section 19(4) of the Immigration Act. In terms of Ahmed and Others v Minister of Home Affairs and Another [2018], ZACC 39  an asylum seeker or refugee sojourning in South Africa must first apply for a waiver from the requirements of Immigration Regulation 9, which includes the requirement that any temporary residence visa applicant must submit his or her application in person to a foreign South African mission where such applicant ordinarily resides or holds citizenship.  Once the waiver from such requirement is granted only then may the asylum seeker or refugee proceed to submit an application for a temporary residence visa application in South Africa.  These waivers must ordinarily be granted otherwise a ruling by the Constitutional Court will be violated.

A regulatory waiver application made in South Africa may take anywhere between 4 – 7 months on average to be processed and adjudicated by the Department of Home Affairs.  In order to apply for a waiver the applicant must be in possession of a valid refugee or immigration status.

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