What can I do to get Home Affairs to process a letter of non-impediment for me?

The short answer

You can either brief lawyers or obtain the letter through one of the law firms that advertise this service. That would take 4 to 6 weeks and is quite expensive.

The whole question

I am a South African citizen currently residing in the Netherlands. I applied for a letter of non-impediment last year April. I am so frustrated about the whole process because I cannot get the letter. When I call they say it's in progress and I should call the next week. I got my mother and brother in South Africa calling Home Affairs but they are not getting anywhere. I was home last month and I called Home Affairs everyday and they just keep saying it's in process and that they understand that the application is long overdue. All that is getting me nowhere. This is a matter of agency now because my Dutch visa expires beginning of June, which means I will have to be separated from my fiancé. We have been engaged for quite a long time now and still waiting for the right papers to get married. I feel victimized by Home Affairs because my life is literally on hold because they cannot process the one document I need and they are not helpful when I call.

I hope this is one of the services you provide because I am beyond frustration.

The long answer

Thank you for your email about the delay in getting your letter of non-impediment from Home Affairs.

We can appreciate how very frustrating it must be to have your marriage put on hold in this way. Home Affairs says that it takes up to six months to process requests for a letter of non-impediment, and that if it takes longer than that, the applicant can contact their offices. In your case it is going on for twelve months - with no reasons given for the delay, which is certainly unreasonable.

I’m afraid that many people are experiencing the same unexplained delays in getting documentation from Home Affairs; there is apparently a large backlog of cases, and they do not seem to have the staff and resources to deal with it.

The only way Home Affairs could be compelled to issue your document more speedily is if a court found the delay unreasonable and ordered the Minister of Home Affairs to issue it within a given period of time. This would mean engaging lawyers, which would usually be expensive, unless they were prepared to do it without charging for their services, ie pro bono. It would be a good idea to record the dates and times when you contact Home Affairs so that you have a paper trail if it is needed by a lawyer.

Another option would be to engage one of the law firms advertising on the Internet that specialise in getting documents delivered speedily, but again, that is expensive. To give you an idea of possible costs: one firm quoted a fee of R6,500 for getting a letter of non-impediment and a delivery time of 4 – 6 weeks.

We are sorry that there doesn’t seem to be any simple way forward for you.

Answered on April 17, 2019, 5:43 p.m.

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