With the deadline for the Zimbabwean documentation process fast approaching, analysts believe many people will not be able to access those permits on time.
Researchers at Wits University say poor management and communication at Home Affairs have resulted in a slow process.
Thousands of Zimbabwe nationals across the country have until December 31 to apply for proper study, work and residency permits or face deportation.
While offices in KZN have experienced a few minor problems, branches in Gauteng have been so busy people have had to camp outside for days.
The university's Roni Amit says they have conducted research in that province and found the process is problematic. At least 100 000 people still have to apply.
"It's going to be a serious problem and we're very concerned about what's going to happen to these people in January and whether they'll be the start of mass deportations.
"The HA [Home Affairs] hasn't really given any reason for seizing to extend the deadline so if they're in fact serious about providing this documentation to all these people who are eligible, then there's not any reason not to extend the deadline," she said.