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The Constitutional Court has ruled that it’s unconstitutional to cancel an asylum seeker’s visa application if it wasn’t renewed on time.

If an asylum seeker’s application isn’t considered, they become illegal foreigners through no fault of their own. The children of asylum seekers whose visas haven’t been renewed will also be seen as illegal foreigners and face arrest.

If an asylum seeker’s visa is cancelled, it means they can never apply for such a visa again and they will not have access to banking, employment, schooling or healthcare in South Africa.

A case where several asylum seekers were unable to renew their visas on time due to not being able to get off work, not being able to afford transport or other reasons, was taken to the Western Cape High Court by the Scalabrini Centre.

The Centre asked the Constitutional Court to confirm that section 22(12) and 22(13) of the Refugees Act was unconstitutional.

The Constitutional Court ruled that “the impugned subsections violate the principle of non-refoulement, infringe the right to dignity, unjustifiably limit the rights of children, and are irrational and arbitrary”.

Image credit: De Rebus

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