By Niki Gerneke, Head of Immigration Law
On Friday 8 September 2017 the Minister of Home Affairs, Professor Hlengiwe Buhle Mkhize, announced the commencement of the new Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (“ZEP”), which will take effect from 1 January 2018, for a period of 4 years.
The current Zimbabwean Special Permit (“ZSP”) issued to Zimbabwean citizens, which started in 2014, was valid for a period of 3 years in total, and all expire on 31 December 2017. The number of ZSP permits issued was 197 941.
What you need to know about the ZEP:
• The ZEP will entitle the holder to work/ study and/or conduct business;
• The ZEP does not entitle the holder the right to apply for permanent residence irrespective of the period of their stay in the Republic of South Africa;
• The ZEP will not be renewable / extendable;
• The ZEP will does not allow the holder to change conditions of his/her permit while in South Africa;
• ZSP permit holders who wish to convert their status to any other mainstream visa should apply timeously for such visa from within SA provided they meet all the requirements for that visa;
• A ZSP applicant will be allowed to travel using the ZEP receipt and the expired ZSP permit until such time as the ZEP permit is issued, without being declared undesirable.
ZEP processing will be implemented as follows:
• The new ZEP project will begin on 15 September 2017;
• The ZEP is open for valid ZSP permit-holders only;
• Prospective applicants are to submit applications online, from 15 September 2017, through the VFS website: www.vfsglobal.com/ZEP/SouthAfrica/com;
• The cut-off date for submission of applications is 30 November 2017;
• An administrative fee of R1090 will be charged by the Department of Home Affairs. We suspect this fee will be in addition to the fee charged by VFS which is R1350;
• ZEP permits will be issued for a maximum period of 4 years, effective from 1 January 2018 and expiring on 31 December 2021, notwithstanding the date of application;
• Thereafter applicants will be allocated appointments for the required submission of fingerprints and supporting documents to VFS, from 1 October 2017. The VFS offices which are authorised to accept ZEP applications are as follows:
LOCATION & ADDRESS
- Durban – Musgrave towers, Musgrave Shopping mall, 5th Floor Musgrave
- Cape Town – 2 Long street, 7th Floor, Cape Town
- Port Elizabeth – Office 7C, 1st floor Moffet and Main, Corner 17th Ave & Main Road, Walmer
- Johannesburg – The Link, Old Pretoria Road, Half Way House, Midrand
- Rustenburg – Cnr of Boom and Fatima Bayet street
- Kimberly -Unit 3 Building 2, Agri Office Park, N12
- Polokwane – Thornhill Shopping Centre, Veldspaat and Munnik Avenue Bendor Park
- Nelspruit – Office 5 F, Nedbank Building, 30 Brown Street
- Bloemfontein – Suite 4, The Park, 14 Reid Street Westdene
- George Unit – 5 Eagle View, Progress Street
Applicants will be required to submit the following as part of their applications:
o A valid Zimbabwean passport;
o Evidence of employment – in the case of an application for work rights;
o Evidence of business – in the case of an application for business rights;
o Evidence of an admission letter from a recognised learning institution –in the case of an application for study rights.
The Department of Home Affairs has made it clear that the ZEP is to be used by the Zimbabweans to rebuild their lives, but has been emphatic that same is to be used to prepare them, at work, in business and in educational institutions, for their final return to Zimbabwe – “in the near future”. Zimbabweans who qualify for the ZEP, and who wish to make the Republic of South Africa their permanent home, are therefore strongly encouraged to commence their applications for a mainstream immigration visa for South Africa, as soon as possible.
For more information on the above, please contact:
Head of Immigration Law
+27 21 416 6495