South Africa to automate criminal records checks

Cape Town, South Africa

South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs (DHA) is set to automate the process of checking a foreign national’s South African criminal records from December 31, 2017. A hardcopy of the South African Police Clearance Certificate (SAPCC) will be accepted by the DHA until December 31, 2017, at which point, the automated verification will become mandatory. This new process in place should significantly reduce document procurement time. 
Foreign nationals who have resided in South Africa for 12 months or more since the age of 18 required the SAPCC for the following applications:
  • Visa renewal
  • Change of visa conditions
  • Change status to another visa category
  • Permanent Residence Permit
  • New application for long-term Temporary Residence Visa from abroad
Currently the process to apply for a hard copy of the SAPCC through the Criminal Records Centre of the South African Police Service takes around three to six weeks, which may lead to applications not being submitted on time.
With the new process, the DHA will check the foreign national’s biometric fingerprints, which are recorded digitally at the Visa Application Centre at the time of submission of the application, against the South African Police Service’s database to check for any recorded criminal convictions in South Africa. 
Key Considerations
  • The VAC will charge an additional fee of R 175 (including VAT) for verifying any recorded criminal convictions in South Africa.
  • The new process is only applicable to SAPCCs for applications filed from within South Africa. 
  • A hardcopy of the SAPCC is still required for foreign nationals who required this for their application being submitted to South African Missions abroad.
Source: This update was prepared using information from Peregrine Immigration
Disclaimer: The above information is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have any further inquiries regarding the applicability of this information, please contact Michele Giordani, EMEA Immigration Manager.