In Pretoria today a meeting was called by VFS and the Department of Home Affairs for all immigration consultants to learn more about the outsourcing function for certain immigration processes.
Below we report on the highlights of the meeting but we also stress that as yet this has not been gazetted so some information may well be altered or clarified:
The role of VFS
Seeking greater efficiency for the processing of visa applications, the Department of Home Affairs has appointed as their outsourcing partner a company called VFS.
VFS will be opening (reports suggest maybe in June) 11 offices around South Africa, these offices are commonly known as VAC’s – Visa Application Centres.
At these VAC’s applicants will be welcomed to submit their applications as well as their biometric data.
Once the application has been checked for completeness and the biometric data captured, VFS will then scan the application and forward the same to the Head Office of Home Affairs in Pretoria.
What VFS will not do
VFS is a processing operation and thus they will not offer prospective immigrants any advice as to the immigration rules. Prospective immigrants will therefore still need to consult with immigration consultants or gather the rules from the Departments website.
VFS will not make a decision to grant or refuse a Visa. This decision remains with the Department of Home Affairs.
Will immigration consultants be able to accompany clients?
Yes, it was confirmed at this meeting that immigration consultants will be able to accompany applicants.
What will the gains be?
There are a number of positives that came out of the meeting:
- Applicants will no longer have to go to Department of Home Affairs to submit applications but to client friendly visa application centres.
- There will be a VIP option for faster processing
- There will be a VIP lounge area
- Permanent Residency applications can be done at the application centres
- Renewals of permits will be done at the visa processing centres and must be done in person due to the ongoing need for criminal checks but your immigration consultant can accompany you
- Immigration consultants will be able to follow up on applications
- Immigration consultants can collect the outcome as soon the processing has been finalised
- The aim is for faster turnaround times and better quality of service
- Applications can be made by appointment or walk ins
- Immigration consultants will no longer be restricted to 5 applications per day
- All applications will be able to be tracked via website and an optional sms system.
- If an application is incomplete it will still be accepted but the applicant will have to an acknowledgment to the effect that they have been advised of the risks. Upon receipt, the Department of Home Affairs will reject the application. This means the quality of your application will be of paramount importance.
- A service fee will be charged by VFS which is yet to be announced.
At Intergate we welcome the Department’s efforts to increase the efficiency of their service. If all goes to plan it seems we will be taking our applicants into a better environment and we will hopefully be dealing with professionals whose aim is the same as ours – to deliver a great service to clients.