Interactive Session between the Department of Home Affairs, FIPSA ( Federation of Immigration Practitioners of South Africa ) and Representatives from VFS
Friday 7th March 2014 - Home Affairs Head Office Pretoria
by Robbie Ragless
|The session held was primarily for Immigration Practitioners and was intended to introduce VFS and her new role. As you all might know VFS has been awarded a tender to take on an administrative function that currently falls under the responsibility of the regional offices of Home Affairs in each respective province.|
Please note, any information provided below is still coming into effect. If you require our services to submit your application without going in to Home Affairs, we still have time to do it.
VFS will not be allowed to reject applications, give advice on application process, documentation and techniques on improving ones application. They will however have a generic check list that they will use to mark off documents received. Currently, if a foreigner has an issue at the counter when submitting his/her application, a Home Affairs official has been there to provide advice. It will now be imperative that each applicant has their documents in order when going to submit. It is therefore now encouraged to make use of an Immigration Practitioner to ensure documents are correctly prepared before one goes in.
The good news is that applications can be tracked via SMS however this will come at an extra cost. Some interesting facts came out of the meeting including;
- Passports will not be taken in by VFS. One will need to briefly present their passport on submission and then it will be returned.
- Applications will still remain as hard copies when processed. No processes are in place to digitalise applications, however, this would be welcomed in the future to reduce the strain on the logistics and transporting applications across the country.
- New processing times will be approximately 2-3 weeks for applications however the proposed staffing compliment for all VFS offices around the country would need to increase to make this happen.
- Each applicant has to appear in person to have fingerprints taken. Even if this is a renewal application.
- Immigration Practitioners will still be able to accompany applicants to the VFS centres
- Home Affairs officials will be placed at all centres to safeguard certain processes
- It is proposed that applications will be able to be done online but it is yet to be seen how this will work.
- VFS will create centres of excellence for more complex corporate type permits including the intra company / business permits
- During the course of 2014 a cut off date will be chosen whereby applications submitted at Home Affairs will no longer be accepted. This date is not certain yet. It has been proposed that for 3-6 months, both centres ( DHA and VFS ) will allow submissions and will run parallel to one another.
- VFS will charge per application meaning further costs for the public.
- VFS and DHA have signed a 5 year contract subject to renewal
- Applications for Citizenship will be done by DHA and not VFS
New Immigration Regulations
Home Affairs Officials indicate that the minister might get the new regulations gazetted by the 1st of April 2014 and that the new regulations might be effective from 1st June 2014. There is no certainty on whether the implementation of the new act and the start of front office activities will run simultaneously.
If you are about to submit your visa application and want assistance in doing so, there is still time before you will need to go in yourself. Please feel free to contact our support team on (021) 555 0951 and we will glady assist!