South Africa has set up 11 new visa facilitation centres which are spread across all 9 provinces. The visa centres are managed by an international outsourcing and technology services specialist known as VFS Global. The visa facilitation centres have been put into place in order to help streamline visa application processes.
The visa facilitation centres (VFS) are responsible for taking visa applications on behalf of the Department of Home Affairs (DHA). They do not process visa applications, nor do they have the authority to partake in the decision making process whatsoever. The visa facilitation centre (VFS) staff members will also not be able to answer questions or offer advice pertaining to the immigration regulations or requirements. Visa applicants seeking guidance on these matters need to contact the DHA directly or get in touch with immigration companies such as Initiate Immigration.
What to expect at VFS centres:
The visa facilitation centres (VFS) only operate on weekdays Mondays to Fridays from 8:00 – 3:30. Underground parking is available to the public.
In order to secure safety and confidentiality, the security is high at the visa facilitation centres (VFS). The security guards will scan you upon arrival to ensure that you are free of any objects that could cause harm to yourself and/ or others. You will also be asked to switch off your mobile phones and refrain from taking any photographs, once you enter the centre.
To avoid unnecessary queueing, you will be issued a ticket with a unique number on it. This number will then be called once it is your turn.
For standard submission:
Once you receive your ticket, you will be seated in the standard waiting area and wait for your number to be called. Your number will be called three times in total. One call for each stage of the submission process.
The first time your number is called, you proceed to the Quality Control counter. Here VFS officials will look through your application to confirm that all your documents are complete and correct. This takes about 30 minutes.
If your documentation is incomplete or if you do not have access to internet at home, you can use one of the three PC’s that are available to you for online bookings and for completing your online application.
The second time your number is called, you proceed to the Submissions counter. Here you will hand in your completed documents. This takes about 15 minutes.
The third time the number is called, you will be asked to provide biometric information (digital fingerprints and photographs). This also takes 30 minutes.
Your entire application should take an hour, which is an immense improvement from the 2-5 hours it used to take at the DHA. That is, without even considering the option for fast-track submission, (see below), which takes under 30 minutes to complete.
For fast-track submission:
At a cost of R500 you can fast-track your submission to a 30 minute process AND gain access to the VIP waiting area. This fee is payable at the visa facilitation centre (VFS), on the day of your submission.
The standard hour long submission process will be cut to under 30 minutes, in which time, you also get to enjoy the leather lounge suite, the flat screen TV and help yourself to free tea, biscuits and a mini bar fridge.
Overall, the experience of the new visa facilitation centres (VFS) is that they are clean, professional and efficient.
For any additional information or assistance with your visa application , feel free to contact us.
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