Immigration Law is a highly complex and specialised field of the South African Law. The requirements for being successful with an application for a temporary residence visa or permanent residence permit or any other application in terms to the Immigration Act and Regulations are a mixture of laws and policies as well as formal and informal practices, changing on an almost daily basis, that have been adopted by the Department of Home Affairs and its officials.
Being assisted by someone with a lack of knowledge and experience or perhaps a “fraudster”, may result in applying under the inappropriate category, and/or submitting the incorrect supporting documentation or even completing the incorrect application form which could have an unsuccessful outcome as a consequence.
- Furthermore, it could result in any of the following situations:
- Rejection of application.
- Being separated from your spouse and family.
- Declared as a prohibited and/or undesirable person.
- Arrested and deported to country of origin.
- Wasting of valuable time and money.
- Spending additional time and money on immigration law experts to attempt to resolve the unwanted situation – which could sometimes be too late.
It is therefore in the best interest of any foreign national living or intending to live in South Africa to be advised and assisted by specialist South African immigration lawyers who have the relevant qualifications, knowledge and practical experience with regards to Immigration Law and the Department of Home Affairs. This will undoubtedly minimize the risk of ending up with an unsuccessful application or in any of the above unwanted situations.
All practicing attorneys are subject to the provisions of the Legal Practice Act of 2014, professional discipline of the statutory Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) and must renew their fidelity fund certificates (licence to practice) annually, to continue to practice and must have their trust accounts audited annually by chartered accountants.
All recognised immigration practitioners must be registered with the Forum of Immigration Practitioners of South Africa (FIPSA) and are strictly regulated and kept up to date with the latest developments in Immigration and Home Affairs practices.
IMPORTANT NOTICE – Be Cautious Before You Accept Assistance
Please be extremely cautious and do not instruct or pay an immigration lawyer / agent / Home Affairs or VFS official in any of the following circumstances:
- If the “attorney” is not in possession of a valid registration certificate with Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) and a Fidelity Fund Certificate.
- If the “practitioner / agent” is not in possession of a valid registration certificate with the Forum of Immigration Practitioners of South Africa (FIPSA).
- If the person / company does not have an office / business address, website or company registration number.
- If the person does not want to meet with you face to face.
- If the person wants to meet you at Home Affairs / VFS / coffee shops, restaurants, airports, garages, etc.NB – Rather insist on having the meeting at their offices. Sometimes the “fraudsters” will come up with an excuse of why the meeting cannot take place at their office.
- If the person tells you that they can obtain a visa / permit / SA identity document for you without submitting any documents or complying with the prescribed requirements.NB – If it sounds too good to be true – it probably is.
- If the person tells you that he/she can submit the application without your presence at Home Affairs / VFS.
- If the person tells you that they have special contacts or friends who work at Home Affairs who can influence the outcome or timeframe of the application.
- If the person does not have a bank account and insists on cash payments.NB – Ensure that you are issued with a cash receipt reflecting the person / company’s details if payment is made in cash.
- If the VFS / Home Affairs official wants to refer you to someone or a contact who can assist you.
- Do not allow a VFS / Home Affairs official to assist you with any applications – whether before or after submission – especially if they insist on payment. VFS / Home Affairs officials are not allowed to conduct any private favours or work and receive payment therefor. It is a criminal offence to directly pay any employee of the Department of Home Affairs or VFS.
- Do not pay any Home Affairs / VFS official who contacts you and asks for payment before they finalise your pending application. Once your application is submitted, there are no additional Home Affairs or FVS fees to be paid.
What to do if you are still uncertain:
- Request to see a certificate of registration at the relevant professional body – such as the Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) or Forum of Immigration Practitioners of South Africa (FIPSA).
- You can also verify the attorney / practitioner’s registration via the relevant professional body’s website or contact the professional body telephonically.
- If you are still uncertain, we will gladly verify the details of any immigration attorney / practitioner for you – free of charge.
- Please send us an e-mail with the attorney / practitioner’s details to [email protected]
MARCUS A MALAN