Home Affairs extends deadline for new Zimbabwe Exemption Permit
Zimbabweans have grace until 2021
Good news for the more than 200 000 Zimbabweans living in South Africa is that they will enjoy a four-year grace period before they have to apply for South African visas.
The current deadline for the Dispensation of Zimbabweans Project (ZDP) has been pushed back to 2021.
In 2010, under the conditions of the ZDP amnesty was offered to Zimbabweans who had been living in the country with fraudulent documents. In addition a total of 242 731 Zimbabweans were granted their ZDP with the help of the South African Department of Home Affairs who waived fees and the need for certain supporting documents, including passports.
Seven years ago it was reiterated that the expiration date of the ZDP is 31 December 2014 but this date was extended to 31 December 2017. With slow visa processing times not all Zimbabweans will have their South African visas before the deadline is reached which would mean a mass deportation of Zimbabweans.
The minister had no option but to extend the programme, relieving the political and socioeconomic burden that South Africa would have had to bear in a situation where 200 000 foreigners [would have] no immigration status come 1 January 2018.
Under the new conditions, Zimbabweans has two options. The first is to apply for the new Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP), a kind of extension of the ZSP. This expires in December 2021, with little clarity on what comes next — it essentially just kicks the immigration can four years down the road.
The second is to apply for a mainstream visa in South Africa, which means he does not have to risk his livelihood during a prolonged stay over the border.
For Zimbabweans who qualify for mainstream visas such as business owners, students, individuals with critical skills and those married to South Africans this is good news.
Cape Town – The Department of Home Affairs has extended the closing date for applications for the new Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP) to February 15, 2018, in order to accommodate Zimbabweans who are battling to get their new passports, Immigration reports.
The cut-off date of November 30, 2017 was first extended to January 31, 2018 and then on Wednesday to February 15, 2018.
Last week Immigration reported that some Zimbabweans risked missing the January 31 deadline to apply for a ZEP because of a bureaucratic hurdle.
In a press statement, Home Affairs stated that by January 29, 2018, a total of 176 605 applicants had completed the process, which includes keeping their appointments with VFS and submitting supporting documents and bio metrics.
The extension to February 15, 2018 was only for submitting fingerprints and supporting documents and for applicants who had submitted online applications by November 30, 2017 but had not paid the prescribed fee, the department said.
“New applications will not be accepted. By the end of September 2018, the department plans to have completed the whole project, including finalizing adjudications and issuing out of all new permits.”
The department said by the closing date for online applications, November 30, 2017, a total of 196 006 applications had been received. No applications were accepted after the closing date.
According to the department’s figures for applications received and completed applications, it would appear that over 19 000 people have until February 15 to complete the process.
The Zimbabwean Special Permit (ZSP), which started in 2014 with 197 951 permits issued, expired on December 31, 2017.
ZEP permit holders will be allowed to work, study or conduct business in South Africa. The permits are valid for up to four years from January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2021.
“Exemption permits, like the ZEP permits, are not permanent or long-term. They only serve a specific purpose with a view ultimately to have people returning to their countries of origin, to build their lives anew,” said the department.
Zimbabweans in SA welcome permits deadline extension
ZIMBABWEANS in South Africa have welcomed the further extension of the deadline for submissions of the new Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP), saying many people had failed to apply due to various challenges.
The South African Department of Home Affairs on Wednesday further extended the deadline for payments and submissions of supporting documents and biometrics for the new ZEP to February 15.
The cut-off date was initially November 30 last year and was extended to January 31 in the hope that all those who had applied online would have made the necessary payments and provided the required supporting documents and biometrics.
The department said by Monday this week, a total of 176 605 applicants had completed the entire process, which includes honouring their appointments and submitting supporting documents and biometrics.
The chairman of the Zimbabwean Community in South Africa, Mr Ngqabutho Mabhena, yesterday said the extension will give Zimbabweans who had not done the process, an opportunity to legalise their stay in the neighbouring country.