New visa system introduced in South Africa
The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has introduced a centralised adjudication system for visas. The new system will mean that all long-term visa applications submitted through a South African embassy or high commission are being sent to the Home Affairs head office in Pretoria.
Previously, these applications were adjudicated and finalised by consular officials within the missions, says Moeketsi Seboko, immigration manager at Xpatweb.
“What we know so far is that the purpose of the centralised system is to ensure consistency and uniformity in the application of the Immigration Act and regulations toward the adjudication of visa submissions.
“The implementation of this new system is seen as an attempt by DHA to enhance the integrity of its Immigration Department and to show efforts to align systems in the interest of national security whilst contributing to the recovery of the economy.”
The Department of Home Affairs had been made aware that there are inconsistencies and arbitrary rules by officials at missions which have led to consular officials requesting non-prescribed requirements for the same visa application, Seboko said.
At times, these requested requirements can change weekly depending on the official receiving the documents, which often results in an inconsistent and unpredictable adjudication process. Although this is not the case with all missions, as some are compliant and enforce the correct visa application processes and procedures, Seboko said.
“We welcome the new system and are of the opinion that with proper and systemic implementation, the centralised system will improve on the effectiveness and uniformity in the adjudication process of long-term visa applications.
“However, like with any structural change, teething problems are expected and are currently affecting expats and their employers around the globe. An example of this is greatly increased processing times of visa applications as a result of a bottleneck due to the vast number of visa application received at the Department of Home Affairs head office from the missions.
“One can only hope that the Department of Home Affairs is being proactive and jumping on implementing measures to mitigate further delays in the release of visa application outcomes and also to increase the staff complement at DHA Head Office to relieve the pressure of the volume of applications received.”
Xpatweb called for a more permanent and robust solution to address the ever-evolving immigration standards.