South Africa – Automated Police Clearance Certificates Delayed Until Further Notice

What has changed

The South Africa Department of Home Affairs announced in September that hard copy South African Police Clearance Certificates (SA PCCs) will no longer be required for in-country applications for temporary residence visas and permanent residence permits. This automation plan had been scheduled to take effect on October 1, 2016. However, the anticipated implementation on Monday October 3 was delayed until further notice due to technical problems. At this point, no clear indication has been provided as to how long it will take for the technical problems to be resolved.

Who is affected?

  • Foreign nationals applying in-country for a Temporary Residence Visa or Permanent Residence Permit

What to expect

The anticipated implementation on Monday October 3 has been delayed due to technical problems. Until further notice, in-country applicants for temporary residence visas and permanent residence permits will continue to have to obtain hard copy police clearance certificates.

Once implemented, the new procedure should reduce the timelines for obtaining the South Africa police certificate. The current process takes four (4) to eight (8) weeks or more, and often delays the application process significantly resulting in foreign nationals failing to submit their applications within the sixty (60) days prior to the expiry of their existing visas, as required by law.

Under the proposed new automated system, the foreign national’s biometric fingerprints will be recorded digitally at the Visa Facilitation Centre / Service (“VFS”) when the application is submitted. The foreign national’s fingerprints will automatically be checked against the SAPS CRC’s database to check for any recorded criminal convictions in South Africa, eliminating the need for the foreign national to apply for and provide a hard copy SA PCC at the time of application. The results of the criminal records check will then be sent directly to the Department of Home Affairs within approximately twenty-four (24) to thirty-six (36) hours.

While the new streamlined service is highly advantageous in reducing the document procurement time, foreign nationals who suspect they might have a criminal conviction of any kind in South Africa must disclose this prior to filing of the application so that time can be made to apply for a hard copy SA PCC. The VFS Visa Facilitation Centre / Service will charge a R175.00 service fee for administering the biometric South African Police Criminal Records check application process.

Please note that this process is only applicable to applications for SA PCCs filed from within South Africa. Foreign nationals who are required to provide Police Clearance Certificates from any other applicable countries, where relevant to their application process, will still have to provide hard-copies.

What you need to do
Planning ahead

  • Foreign nationals who suspect they might have a criminal conviction of any kind in South Africa, must allow for time to apply for a hard copy SA PCC.
  • Further information will be provided once the new system is implemented.
  • Contact your Emigra Worldwide attorney or representative for further details on how these updates may impact you or your client.

The information above was provided by Emigra Worldwide, our global network partners, and relevant government authorities. The information herein is for general purposes only and not intended as advice for a particular matter. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the global immigration professional with whom you work.