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Constitutional Court gives state two years to amend foreign spousal visa laws

Laws requiring foreigners married to South African citizens to leave the country to renew their visas have been declared constitutionally invalid.

On Friday the Constitutional Court said the state has 24 months to fix the legislation which has the impact of separating foreign spouses from their families.

It ruled that the dignity and constitutional rights of South African citizens and permanent residents are unduly impinged on when you require the spouse or child to return to their home country to apply for a visa, thereby breaking up the family.

Willem Le Roux, Director - Le Roux Attorneys Inc

The people who've had to leave were those on a visitors visa or medical visa - they weren't allowed to change their status within the country.

Willem Le Roux, Director - Le Roux Attorneys Inc

With the state being given two years to effect the changes, immigration lawyer Willem Le Roux explains what will happen in the interim.

In the interim, we must 'read in' a new section that previously did not exist, and that section says the spouse or child of a South African citizen or permanent resident is now deemed to be an 'extraordinary circumstance' which qualifies that person to change their status from within the country.

Willem Le Roux, Director - Le Roux Attorneys Inc

The Department of Home Affairs defended the law, claiming that the requirements were designed to "prevent people from fraudulently overstaying in South Africa".

Listen to the full interview below:


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