Late yesterday afternoon, I received a return call from the Cape Town immigration lawyer we hired to assist with our extensions. Keeping in mind, Tom has a 90-day visa he received when returning from the US weeks ago after his brother’s funeral. He can stay until June 15 without incident.
After yesterday’s post about new rulings, which may be found here, a recent ruling from South Africa’s Home Affairs (immigration) stipulates entirely new guidelines for visitors who’ve applied for extensions, such as us. We requested we could stay until our planned departure date of June 8, 2023.
That’s out the window now with the new rulings, which are vague and unclear, as admitted by the lawyer who clearly understood our concerns and confusion. She, too, is confused by the lack of clarity regarding dates we need to exit the country. Unless some clarification comes through in the next ten days, we must Africa by April 30, 2023. That leaves us one month to make travel plans and to clear out of this house.
As it turns out, there are 7000 visa extension applications, such as ours, in the works. Based on staffing issues after the pandemic, there is no way they will be able to process all of the applications. Hence, we fall into the category of having to leave by April 30 or be considered “undesirables” if we go one day later.
Initially, when we filed, the rulings stated we could stay without issue until the extensions were granted. At that point, three months ago, the lawyer felt confident we’d have our approval in plenty of time, based on history. Filing earlier wouldn’t have helped since they don’t allow earlier applications.
So now, we are facing April 30 as our departure date. As the lawyer explained, our only option is to leave the country, not to a bordering country, and try to get back in, as we’ve done many times. Right now, we are discussing our options and will report back here what we decide sometime in the next ten days; when we commit to each other, we’ll make a decision.
Last night, I contacted Louise and asked her if we left the country would this house be available for us upon return? No matter our plans, we have to be in Edinburgh, Scotland, by July 31, the day before we sail away.
Here we are once again, trying to figure out immigration issues when we’d settled into peace of mind that the extensions would work out well. I guess we were wrong. Unless the South African government clarifies its rulings in the next few weeks, no matter what, we are leaving here on April 30.
The lawyer explained that if we continued to stay and wait to see if they ever get to our application, if we had to leave and it wasn’t approved, again, we’d be considered “undesirables.” We’re not willing to go through that again when it occurred when we overstayed after my heart surgery four years ago.
Many would say, “Why bother? It’s too complicated to stay for longer periods in South Africa.” The reasons are many. Those of you who have been reading our posts for years certainly understand, but I won’t get into that again today.
Soon, we’re off to Koomatipoort for our appointments with Doc Theo. This will be my first cardiac stress test since the surgery, and I will be glad when it’s over and done; praying for good results. Tom is having the same test, and we’ll receive his test results from the past week. We’ll report back tomorrow.
Photo from one year ago, March 31, 2022: