We would like to alert our clients of significant changes in the policies of VFS Global relating to the acceptance of temporary and permanent residence applications.

According to our information, these policies changed on the basis of telephonic and written instructions received by VFS Global from the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) since Saturday, 7 March 2015.  These rules are in principle unlawful as they are imposed by VFS Global with no statutory foundation. In other words, they are arbitrary and are not supported by South Africa’s legal regime. But until they are set aside or withdrawn as a consequence of High Court Action, they stand and apply, no matter the adverse consequences suffered by foreigners affected by them.

These policy changes are as follows:

– No foreigner entering or residing in South Africa on a visitor visa in any category (short-term or long-term) may submit an application for permanent residence in any category at VFS Global;

– No foreigner may apply for permanent residence at VFS Global should their current temporary residence visa (irrespective of the category) be valid for a period less than 8 months;

– No incomplete application for a temporary residence visa or a permanent residence permit may be submitted to VFS Global.  Please note that an application to the Minister to waive a regulatory requirement or form (such as a police clearance certificate or any other required document to complete an application in any category) needs to be filed and adjudicated first before the visa or permit application is filed with VFS Global.  Before this rule came into place, a temporary residence visa or permanent residence permit application could be filed simultaneously with a Ministerial waiver application, but now the Ministerial waiver application must be filed and adjudicated first before the visa or permit application is filed.

The consequence of this policy change is that current temporary visas or asylum documents may expire before the foreigner has an opportunity to file the new temporary residence visa or permit application with VFS Global.  Should the temporary visa or asylum document expire prior to the new visa or permit application being filed, the onus rests on the illegal foreigner to redress that illegality through the normal Immigration Inspectorate process of applying for authorisation to remain in South Africa pending the outcome of the new visa or permit application.

As a consequence of this specific policy change, we encourage every foreigner to begin the process of preparing an application for a new visa or a renewal of a current visa to be submitted in South Africa at least 6 – 8 months prior to the expiry of current visas or asylum documents.

Asylum seekers and refugees are well advised to keep their documents current at all times including the time of filing their temporary residence visa applications with VFS Global.  For those asylum seekers and refugees who are not able to do so, they will require to undergo the “authorisation application process” described above with the Immigration Inspectorate.

We are obliged to disseminate the above information to all our clients since the changes brought about suddenly, without any public notification, has drastic consequences for the people concerned.  We caution you that these rules and policies may change once again with no notice.  The information disseminated herein above to you, reflects the current status quo.

If you should instruct us to proceed to the High Court on your behalf, we would be happy to give you a fair idea of costs for your account.  But in the absence of an Order of the High Court, these rules will remain applicable.

Please be guided accordingly.