South Africa: Automated police clearance system postponed

Authorities have temporarily postponed a plan to automate the process for obtaining South African police clearance certificates for temporary residence visa and permanent residence applications.

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What does the change mean? Applicants for temporary residence visas and permanent residence permits must continue to apply for police clearance by visiting a police station and obtaining a certificate. The automation plan was announced in September and had been scheduled to take effect Oct. 1, but authorities now say it has been “temporarily postponed until further notice.”

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Temporary residence visas and permanent residence permits.
  • Impact on processing times: The process for obtaining a police clearance can take three to four months compared to the 24 to 36 hours officials hope automated background checks will take once the system is implemented.
  • Next steps: BAL will continue to monitor developments in South Africa and will update clients if any new information about the program becomes available.

Background: DHA announced last week that it would change to the automated police clearance system, which is similar to those it already uses for Zimbabwean Special Permit and Lesotho Special Permit applications. Following that announcement, however, officials posted a notice that the implementation had been delayed. No additional information was provided.

Applicants should note that, once implemented, the automated service will only be available for South African police clearance certificates for applications filed in South Africa. Those submitting applications outside of South Africa and in need of a police clearance from another country will continue to need to provide a manual police clearance certificate.

BAL Analysis: Until further notice, in-country applicants for temporary residence visas and permanent residence permits will continue to have to obtain police clearance certificates at police stations in South Africa. Applicants should be prepared, for now, to wait three to four months to obtain clearance certificates.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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