In June 2022, the department started a trial operation in the UK through VFS Global to evaluate the VFS model, which it said was a big success.
VFS Global provides technology and outsourcing services to international governmental organizations and diplomatic missions. Through its physical offices and online platform, it enables the application of passports and visas, and it streamlines the administration, payment, and delivery of the paperwork once it has been processed.
The group handles administrative and non-judgmental activities for governments relating to visas, passports, and consular applications, as well as identification and citizen services.
As a result, diplomatic missions (i.e., embassies and consulates) can efficiently manage their time and resources so that they may concentrate on the vital duty of reviewing visa applications and reaching conclusions.
South African people have been allowed to renew their passports at the VFS Global locations in the UK while the pilot program has been in effect.
According to home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi, "In order to test the viability of the VFS model and service that they offer to other governments throughout the world, the department took a decision to implement the test passport application pilot project in the UK."
“Since its launch, the turnaround times for passport issuance have reduced from six to twelve months to one month.”
According to him, the model uses courier services to send passports to the UK, which helps speed up the documents' delivery to applicants.
In response to a written parliamentary question this week, Motsoaledi stated that the department now intends to extend the system following an evaluation by the project team in November and December 2022, subject to the service provider's availability.
"The model will be extended to other countries with a high concentration of the South African population," he said.
The Minister stated that the Department wants to expand its service offerings to Australia, New Zealand, the United States of America (USA), the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and France.
Although the trial period with VFS Global will end on December 31, 2022, Motsoaledi said the Department is already looking into its options to reduce the danger of being without a service provider once the contract expires.
The initiative halted in August 2022 after the transaction advisor hired in the process was found guilty of fraud "in another case," according to the Minister. The government had first initiated a public-private partnership project to find a service provider to handle similar services.
He stated that there is a new procedure in place to select a new transaction advisor.