June 4, 2010

The Department of Home Affairs in South Africa has announced two key changes for temporary residence applications, effective immediately: firstly, that all in-country applications for temporary residence permits must be routed through Pretoria, and secondly, that all applicants who have lived in South Africa for 12 months or more since the age of 18 and are applying for a temporary residence permit must now submit a South African police clearance in support of their applications.

Applications to Pretoria 

Effective 28 May 2010, all in-country applications for temporary residence permits, whether for first time permits (i.e. change of status from business visitor) or renewal applications, will be processed by the Department of Home Affairs in Pretoria.  Other offices of the Department of Home Affairs (e.g. in Cape Town or Johannesburg) will no longer have the authority to process temporary residence permit applications.

In the past, temporary residence permit applications that were routed via Pretoria were subject to extensive delay, sometimes for up to six months.

However, the Department of Home Affairs has assured Pro-Link GLOBAL that additional resources have been allocated in Pretoria, and that processing times should not be adversely affected.

Additionally, at this stage it is unclear whether offshore applications will be impacted, i.e. whether South African Embassies and Consulates will also have to seek approval from Pretoria before issuing temporary residence permit approval. If this is the case, it will significantly extend processing time, which is currently approximately 10 working days.

Pro-Link GLOBAL will monitor the situation and will keep our clients updated.

South African Police Clearances 

Also effective 28 May 2010, all temporary residence permit applicants (including dependant spouses) who have lived in South Africa for a continuous period of 12 months or more since the age of 18 must submit a South African police clearance certificate in support of their application.  It is already the case that police clearances from all foreign countries where the applicant has lived for 12 continuous months or more since the age of 18 are required, however, previously, South African police clearances were not required.

Who is Affected?  

This change will impact not only those applicants who have previously lived in South Africa, perhaps as a student or in different employment, but also employees who have been in South Africa for one year and who are applying for an extension of their temporary residence permits.

How do I Apply for a South African Police Clearance? 

The police clearance application is processed by the Client Services Centre in Pretoria.  Persons already in South Africa may attend their local police station to have their fingerprints taken, pay the fee (59 rand) and complete the application form.  Pro-Link GLOBAL’s advice is that, rather than allowing the local police station to forward on the application, the applicant should courier the completed form, payment receipt and fingerprints to our PLG | KGNM correspondent office, so that we can submit it directly to Pretoria.  This will avoid unnecessary delays and will also ensure that we have evidence of making the application, in the event that it needs to be followed up at a later date.

For offshore (outside South Africa) persons requiring the South African police clearance, Pro-Link GLOBAL will work with the South African diplomatic posts and our KGNM correspondent office to submit the application.

How Long Will It Take? 

Normal processing time for the South African police clearance is 28 days, but it is important to note that we do not anticipate additional processing time for the overall temporary residence permit application as a result of this requirement.  This is because the temporary residence permit application will be accepted with proof of police clearance application only, plus a written undertaking stating that the applicant will provide the original police clearance within a period of six months.

ACTION ITEMS FOR EMPLOYERS

  • Note that in-country applications are now routed through Pretoria and that we anticipate additional processing time as a result of this change.
  • Note that South African police clearance certificates are now required in support of all temporary residence applications made by persons who have lived in South Africa for 12 continuous months since the age of 18.  Pro-Link GLOBAL will provide our clients specific, case by case advice on how to obtain any necessary South African police clearance certificates.

Caveat Lector | Warning to Reader 

This is provided as informational only and does not substitute for actual legal advice based on the specific circumstances of a matter. Readers are reminded that Immigration laws are fluid and can change a moment’s notice without any warning. Please reach out to your local Pro-Link GLOBAL specialist should you require any additional clarification.

Pro-Link GLOBAL worked with our PLG | KGNM Correspondent Office in South Africa to provide this Global BRIEF alert to you.