Since 2009, the South African government has offered permits to Zimbabweans to allow them to live and work in South Africa. If you are currently in South Africa with a Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP), you may be worried about the June 2023 expiry date and what will happen. Scorpion explains what you need to do to remain in SA legally.
The Zimbabwean Special Dispensation Permit (ZSP) was replaced by the current Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP), which expired on 31 December 2021. On 29 November 2021, the Director-General of the Department of Home Affairs confirmed Cabinet’s decision that no further extensions would be granted to Zimbabwean nationals who are holders of a ZEP. This is because these permits were only intended as a “temporary bridge” to aid Zimbabweans escaping the situation in their home country, with the idea that they would eventually “re-enter the mainstream immigration process in South Africa” – Minister Malusi Gigaba, on the announcement of the Zimbabwean Special Dispensation Permit in Pretoria, 12 August, 2014.
A grace period of 12 months (ending on 31 December 2022, and then extended again to June 2023) was implemented to allow all ZEP holders time to legalise their status in South Africa via the visa options described in the Immigration Act. This means that all ZEP holders need to apply for an applicable visa, in terms of South African law, to allow them to remain in the country. These include:
- Critical Skills Work Visa
- General Work Visa
- Spousal Visa – with condition to work
- Business Visa
If a person holds a ZEP and is currently employed, they will be considered illegal immigrants after 30 June 2023 if they do not apply for either a waiver or one of the mainstream visas described above which they may qualify for. All visa applications must be done via Visa Facilitation Services (VFS), not at a Department of Home Affairs office/branch, and all ZEP holders whose applications are unsuccessful will be required to leave South Africa or risk being deported.
However, those who hold a ZEP, and can prove they have applied for a visa through VFS, are still allowed to perform work, even after the expiry date of 30 June 2023, until they receive the outcome of their visa application. They also have the right to continue receiving other South African services, eg from banks, financial- and/or learning institutions as long as they can provide VFS application receipt as proof that they have applied for a visa and are waiting for the outcome.
Trying to make sense of the different South African visas and their requirements is no easy task. Scorpion Legal Protection simplifies the process for our members by providing guidance and advice on how to go about the application. This includes recommending a visa category that will suit the needs and circumstances of the applicant, and taking them through the application process with VFS.
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If you have a query, follow Scorpion Legal Protection on Facebook and ask your question during our next Live Q&A (every first Thursday of the month from 11:30- 13:30). *This is only basic legal advice and cannot be relied on solely. The information is correct at the time of being sent to publishing.
* This is only basic legal advice and cannot be relied on solely. The information is correct at the time of being sent to publishing.