Viva la visa!

This is a page specifically for South African teachers coming to the Middle East to teach. Different countries require different documentation but I am providing a general overview of the most essential documents you will most probably need. Although your recruiter will give you information about what to acquire and general instructions on how to acquire it, non South African recruiters often lack understanding of the lackdaisical Department of Home Affairs and how exactly to minimise bureaucratic frustrations. This is where this page comes in. I am providing you with all of the information I personally needed, what services I actually used and the real waiting times involved if you intend to do everything yourself. I encourage others to contribute their experiences via the comment section!

The documents you may need to collect in advance include:

  • Authenticated highest degree (Bachelors, Masters, PhD)
  • Authenticated SACE certificate
  • Authenticated marriage certificate (if you are married and your school will be sponsoring your spouse)
  • Authenticated birth certificates of children (if your school is going to sponsor your children)
  • A police clearance certificate (issued in the last 6 months)
  • Two professional letters of reference that attest to your ability as a teacher. (The letters should be written on a school letterhead with date and signature. At least one of these letters must be written by your most recent employer.)
  • Proof of employment letters for all relevant employment

Often the difficult task is not amassing the documents but rather, the authentication of them. I have broken them up into sections and will provide specific information on how I obtained each item.

South African Police Clearance (also referred to as a Criminal Record/Background Check)

You need:

R96

ID book/card

Copy of ID book/card

Proof of residence

Step 1: Go to your nearest police station. In KZN they are fussy about the location of the police station so make sure it is the nearest one to where you live. You will need to take proof of residence with you to confirm this.

Step 2: Fill out the forms. There are two to be filled out. One has your details and the other is for your fingerprints.

Step 3: Pay the required amount to the cashier. For some reason government departments never seem to have any change so take exact amount. Oh and take cash!

Step 4: An officer will take your fingerprints for you and while you wash you hands with some foul soap your forms and receipt will be stapled together. You will be asked to check the details and sign. Then take the forms and you are free to go.

Time spent: An hour.

Once you have the forms you need to send it to Pretoria. If you are using the postal service consider using registered Fast Mail or the Speed Services courier option. For post the address is:

The Head of the South African Criminal Record Centre

(For attention: Police Clearance Certificates)

Private Bag X308

PRETORIA

Gauteng

South Africa

0001

If you prefer to use a courier company then make sure the documents are delivered to:

The Head of the South African Criminal Record Centre

(For attention: Police Clearance Certificates)

Bothongo Plaza West

CRC Client Service Centre

1st Floor, Room 14

271 Francis Baard Street

Pretoria

South Africa

Yes you will receive an SMS when your application is received and has begun being processed. If you don’t receive this SMS after two weeks of sending the documents then it is best to contact them and enquire. You can track the progress of your application via the SAPS website here. Allow for 10 working days processing time. When your police clearance is ready for collection you will receive an SMS informing you.

 

If you have included a self-addressed, stamped envelope with your application they will drop it in the post box for you. Ensure that your envelope is registered mail so you can track its progress through the postal system. Otherwise you can instruct a courier company to collect the document for you.

I applied early and used the postal service, which gave me no problems however; it did take at least two weeks from the time the police clearance was completed till the time it appeared in my mailbox.

Step 5: Once you have you police clearance hold on to it tightly and refer to the authentication process at the bottom of this page.

Unabridged Marriage Certificate

No this is not the regular yellowish certificate you receive when your marriage is first registered. This has to be applied for at Home Affairs and you need to give them a reason as to why you require it.

You need:

R75

ID books/cards of both spouses

Copy of the handwritten marriage certificate with the details of the marriage officer

Step 1: Go to your preferred Home Affairs Office. Ensure that you are in the MARRIAGES section. Fill out the form making sure you tick the UNABRIDGED marriage certificate option. Use the handwritten marriage certificate to help fill in all the relevant details.

Step 2: Pay the R75 at the cashier. Bring the receipt back along with the form to the marriages section. Hand both in and ensure you keep one copy of the receipt and one copy of the collection form. Enquire as to when the application when be logged on to the system and get the phone number of someone you can call to follow up on this.

Time spent: About an hour but it will depend of the size of the queue at the Home Affairs office. I find its better to go on a Thursday or Friday afternoon around 3pm.

I applied in February only to find in May that it was never logged on to the computer system- so there was no record of my application. The average processing time of unabridged marriage certificates is 3-5 months so this was quite a blow for me. As a result of this, I was forced to seek the assistance of an agent that could help expedite my application. I dealt with Samantha at Docassist.

Authenticated SACE certificate

Every South African teacher should have his or her SACE certificate on hand. The process of authenticating its validity is a three-step process.

You need:

Your SACE certificate

A copy of your SACE certificate

Step 1: Verification by a public notary

The SACE certificate must be verified by a Public Notary (an Attorney registered at the High Court) of your choice. A quick Google search should direct you to a public notary in your chosen area. The Public Notary will basically make a certified copy of the original document (which is the procedure by which the copy of the original document, is “certified” as being “a true copy of the original document”).

Step 2: Registrar of the High Court of South Africa

The certified document must then be taken to the Registrar of the High Court of South Africa – in the same jurisdiction as the Public Notary. Often the public notary can have the documents sent to the high court on your behalf. Enquire about this.  The Registrar will verify the signature and/or the seal of the Public Notary. Make sure you have included a cover letter as to why the documents need to be verified and which country you plan to use them in.

Step 3: Refer to authentication process at the bottom of this page.

The cost of this service depends entirely on the public notary’s fees so shop around.

Time spent: Depends on the public notary and how you send the documents to the high court.

Authenticated degree certificates

Some working visas only require the certificate of the highest degree conferred upon you. Ask your recruiter which degree to authenticate if you have two degrees on the same level for e.g. Honours and P.G.C.E. However if you have to authenticate all of your degrees, follow the below instructions for all relevant degrees. This can include:

  • B Ed, M Ed
  • All bachelor’s degrees- BA, B Comm, B Sc etc.
  • Higher Diploma in Education
  • National Teachers Diploma
  • Advanced Certificate in Education (ACE)
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE)

You need:

Your original degree certificates

A copy of your degree certificates

Step 1: Verify with Department of Higher Education and Technology

The original certificate together with the copy should be submitted to the Department of Higher Education and Training in Pretoria. The address is:

Sol Plaatje Building

Fifth floor, Room 556

123 Francis Baard Street (Schoeman Street)

Pretoria

Tel – 012 312 5325

The relevant section will stamp and sign a true copy of the certificate and issue an original covering letter confirming that the educational institution is a recognized institution in South Africa.  This applies to all degrees conferred at public institutions in South Africa such as Rhodes University, UNISA, Wits, UKZN etc. If you did not study at a public University read the note below.

Note: The Department of Basic Education / Department of Higher Education and Training will only be able to assist if the institution is registered with the Department.  It is therefore recommended to contact the relevant Department to verify if the institution is registered, before submitting your documentation.  If the institution is not registered with the Department of Basic Education/Department of Higher Education and Training, you will need to follow the same process as the SACE certificate.

Time spent: 20 minutes (including finding parking)

Step 2: Refer to authentication process below.

Medical Report

My working visa for Kuwait required a comprehensive medical report to be done in my home country before I applied for the visa.

They required tests done for the following diseases:

-Typhoid

-Malaria

-Hepatitis B

-Hepatitis C

-Pregnancy Test

You will also need a:

-Chest Xray

The easiest way to get this done is:

Step 1: Get a referral letter from your GP indicating the tests and X-ray you need to have done.

Step 2: Find a reputable lab/hospital where you can have the above tests done. They must have a practice number and be registered with the HPCSA.

Step 3: Go back to your GP. The doctor will receive your lab results a few days after you have the tests done. Take your X-ray to him. Ask him/her to sign and stamp the medical report that you will draw up.

Step 4: Send/take the medical report to the HPCSA (Health Professions Council of South Africa). Their address is:

572 Madiba Street

Arcadia
Pretoria

0002

It will be stamped and signed there.

Time spent: 30 minutes

This medical report will then be authenticated with the rest of your documents as outlined below.

Final authentication of all of the above documents

 

You need (depending on your visa requirements):

  • Police Clearance
  • Unabridged Marriage Certificate (if you are sponsoring your spouse)
  • Unabridged Birth Certificates of children (if you are sponsoring your kids)
  • Degree Certificates (Already verified by the Department of Higher Education and Technology)
  • SACE certificate (Already verified by notary public and high court registrar)
  • Medical report (Already verified by the HPCSA)
  • A cover letter to explain why you need these documents and clearly indicating the country they will be used in.

Step 1: The above documents to be submitted to Legalization Section of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) for authentication.

The original covering letter and stamped/signed copy of the documents must be submitted to the Legalization Section of the DIRCO for legalization purposes. You need to advise the Legalization Section of the DIRCO in which country the documents will be used in so they can determine which certificate of authentication is needed.

The address is:

460 Soutpansberg Road

OR Thambo building

Rietondale

Pretoria

Tel. 012 3511000

NOTE: Office hours are 9-1pm

The people that work here are super efficient and helpful. When you hand your documents in, it will be ready in exactly 45 minutes. If you give in your documents after 1pm it will be ready the next day.

Time spent: 1 hour (including going through the security procedures and parking)

FINAL STEP: You will need to take everything that has been authenticated as well as your passport to your relevant embassy so that the visa sticker can be stuck in your passport.

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