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Visa applications: Warning signs and pitfalls 

Many agencies make false promises and then disappear bag and baggage with deposits, or they only do half of the work needed for a visa.

South Africans need to be more prepared when they make use of a middleman, especially to obtain work visas.

Warning signs to look out for

  • Promises that they can guarantee the issuance of a visa.
  • Offers of visas which you have not requested by email, mail, cell phone or on websites. In some cases, South Africans are even invited for personal interviews. If you have not enquired, do not respond to the offer.
  • Requests for advance payments so that you can register for your application.
  • The claim that only a particular company can contact the necessary department.
  • The claim that an agency has special or close ties with employees at embassies or the Department of Home Affairs.
  • Promises of an unrepeatable opportunity that is your “only” chance of getting a visa.
  • Agencies indicating that they must keep your original documents.

How to avoid the pitfalls

  • The Department of Home Affairs of the country for which you want to obtain the visa is the only body authorised to issue visas.
  • Pay close attention to the email address from which you receive the communication; make sure it is the same as the email address on the relevant department’s website.
  • You don’t need an agent to handle your payment. The one-time fee for a visa you can pay directly to the department or embassy.
  • Nobody can influence your application for a visa. Only staff of the department can issue the visa if you meet all the requirements.
  • The Department of Home Affairs of some countries have service providers in different regions that help them to handle applications. For example, Australia makes use of TLScontact for the African region. Make sure that the agency appears on the department’s website.
  • Never provide your personal information, credit card details or bank details in an email or over the phone.
  • If you suspect that you have shared your personal information with an underhand agency, contact your bank immediately.

All applicants are responsible for ensuring that they understand the process required to obtain a visa. Make sure you are familiar with the process, even if an agent is assisting you.

The following general steps are usually followed for visa applications:

Step 1:    
Get a passport.

Step 2:    
Decide what kind of visa you need. This is determined by your occupation, how long you plan to be there, why you are going, and whether you are a student.

Step 3:    
Complete all required visa documentation for the visa code that you apply for. Submit a passport photo with your application.

Step 4:    
Pay when you submit your application.

Step 5:    
Depending on the country you apply for, you may be invited for a personal interview with an immigration agent.

Step 6:    
You may be asked to submit prove of your income or to provide medical documentation indicating your current health status before your visa is issued.

Travelling or going to work abroad involves a process, and the biggest obstacle to overcome is always the visa. Do not let the administration discourage you. Talk to people who have been through the process and you will soon get the hang of it. If you are using agents, make sure you have reliable confirmation that they do provide the services they promise.

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