What is the change? The centers that handle Indian visas for applicants in South Africa have announced that they will begin collecting biometrics from visa applicants, who will be required to schedule their appointments through a new online system.

What does the change mean? Effective July 17, visa applicants must complete an application form online and then make an appointment to appear in person to have their biometrics (fingerprints and facial image) taken. The change does not affect e-visa applicants, who are required to provide biometrics upon arriving in India.

  • Implementation time frame: The change took effect Monday.
  • Visas/permits affected: All Indian visas other than e-visas.
  • Who is affected: Individuals applying for Indian visas at VFS Global Centers in South Africa, regardless of nationality.
  • Impact on processing times: Processing times themselves are not expected to change, but applicants will need to build more time into their schedules in order to appear in person and provide biometrics.
  • Next steps: Applicants may request a biometrics appointment at the appropriate visa center after completing an online application form. Lesotho passport holders may only apply at the Indian High Commission in Pretoria.

Background: All visa applicants in South Africa whose biometrics have not been submitted to Indian authorities in the past five years will be required to make a biometrics appointment before their visa application is finalized. Once applicants provide biometrics, they will not need to do so again for subsequent applications over the next five years. The change appears to be part of a worldwide rollout by the Indian government. A similar requirement was recently imposed for visa applicants in Singapore.

BAL Analysis: The new biometrics requirement adds an additional step to the application process for Indian visas in South Africa. Those affected should be sure to leave enough time in their schedules to appear in person and provide biometrics. Once biometrics have been collected, subsequent applications will not require individuals to be present. Those who fail to provide biometrics taken will have their visa applications rejected.

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

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