Prospective hujjaj traveling to the holy lands for hajj this August will be required to conduct biometric verification in order to be issued a visa to Saudi Arabia. The Ministry of Hajj in the Kingdom has commissioned VFS TasHeel to conduct the biometrics, with offices in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban.
The first deputy president of the South African Hajj Umrah Council, Shaheen Essop explained that prior to having visas issued to them, hujjaj will be required to undergo the biometric recording, which scans the finger prints and retina of hujjaj.
Essop said the key purpose of the biometric system is security, but that the system will also reduce the time wasted upon arrival at Jeddah and Madina airports during the hajj season.
“There is probably around 2.8 and three million people that will be performing hajj and a large number of those come from outside countries. So, in order not to allow pilgrims to wait considerably long periods of time, this is one of the measures that [Saudi authorities] have put in place to try and reduce [the waiting time].
“…they want to reduce the time spent, which at the moment is on average between two and four hours, to probably 55 minutes to an hour,” Essop stated.
Based on accounts from hujjaj who have completed the biometric recordings, Essop said the average time appears to be between five and seven minutes.
“You have to do the necessary appointment booking online and once that is concluded take your passport and appointment letter and go the office that you made the appointment with,” he added.
Essop encouraged hujjaj who do not have access to the internet to seek assistance from their respective hajj operators.
He further confirmed that the Government of Saudi Arabia and VFS TasHeel has indicated that the biometric recording is rendered free.
For further information, contact VFS TasHeel.