As part of the new Immigration Act, the Department of Home Affairs ceased, from now on, the receipt of new applications for permanent and temporary residence.
VISA Facilitation Services (VFS)
The submission process of visa applications has officially been outsourced to a company called Visa Facilitation Services (VFS).
The decision itself is not a big surprise, as it is even a good basis for more efficient application processes. It’s rather the whole time management of the responsible authorities regarding the implementation of the new Visa Application Centres (VAC) which confuses applicants and immigration practitioners. At the VACs, applicants will submit their applications and biometric data for processing.
Once the applications have been checked, they will be scanned and forwarded to the Home Affairs Head Office in Pretoria.
Main reason for that confusion is that there were no provided information of the expected opening dates of the VACs in a timely manner.
On 30th May, three days before the first opening, VFS announced some opening dates of VACs in South Africa:
• Pretoria, Kimberley, Rustenburg – 02 June 2014
• Durban, Bloemfontein, George – 09 June 2014
• Johannesburg – 18 June 2014
• Cape Town – 20 June 2014
• Polokwane, Nelspruit, Port Elizabeth – 23 June 2014
The fact, that the Department of Home Affairs has not even released something in the press, no official notification, no further information really borders on insolence. After all, it is important information for applicants and the whole immigration industry and therefore this lack of communication provokes future misunderstandings and makes the situation for applicants even worse by creating uncertainty.
Department of Home Affairs no longer accepting applications
Another confusing matter for the failed time management of the Department of Home Affairs is, that the regional and district offices are no longer accepting applications although VACs are not implemented in every region of the country.
That faces applicants with the choice of either traveling to the next VAC or waiting until a VAC will be implemented in near region. This means also extra costs for travelling for the applicants which won’t be refunded by the any public authority. Furthermore it’s also a question of time which an applicant has to spend to get to such a VAC. To sum it up, all these circumstances, based on decisions of the Department of Home Affairs, are actually very unfavorable for applicants and cause immense problems in applying for visas in regions where VACs have not been opened.