What is the change? VFS Global has announced that the South African visa application center in Cape Town has temporarily closed and that foreign nationals residing in the Western Cape should alternatively submit in-country South African visa and permit applications at the VFS centers in Port Elizabeth or George.

What does the change mean? The closure will cause significant disruptions for visa applicants, as both George and Port Elizabeth are hundreds of kilometers from Cape Town. The online application system also does not allow applicants to change the location of their application submission once an appointment has been booked. Applicants who had appointments booked at the Cape Town application center, or who had intended to submit an application in Cape Town, will need to make alternative arrangements and should expect delays.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate and ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: All South African visas and permits
  • Who is affected: Foreign nationals submitting in-country visa and permit applications at the Cape Town visa application center.
  • Impact on processing times: The end-to-end process for obtaining a permit or visa could be significantly delayed if the Cape Town office remains closed for more than a few weeks.
  • Business impact: Employers and foreign nationals may need to adjust their schedules to account for the inconvenience and anticipated processing delays associated with the current closure of the Cape Town visa application center.  

Background: VFS posted a message on its website this week saying that the Cape Town visa application center would be temporarily closed. Few additional details were provided.

“We regret the inconvenience caused and are working towards re-opening the center as soon as possible,” the message said. “Please bear with us while we make alternative arrangements for applicants.”

VFS has told BAL that affected applicants should use visa application centers in Port Elizabeth or George in the meantime.

BAL Analysis: Applicants affected by the closure or with urgent immigration needs should contact BAL to discuss the best available options. BAL will monitor events in South Africa and provide notice to clients if additional information about the Cape Town visa application center becomes available.

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

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