Good news for Zimbabwean nationals working and living in South Africa is that the cut-off date for the new Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) has yet again been pushed back.
In order to give Zimbabwean national more time to collate their submissions, payments and supporting documents and biometrics the South African Department of Home Affairs has extended the closing date until 15 February 2018. The extension, to 15 February 2018, is only for submitting biometrics (fingerprints) and supporting documents at the 10 VFS offices listed below as well as for those who have submitted online applications by 30 November 2017 but did not pay the prescribed fee. New applications will not be accepted after the 30 November 2017.
This is the second extension by the Department in an effort to ensure that all Zimbabweans have the opportunity to ensure that they are documented while in South Africa. The first cut-off date of 30 November 2017 was first extended to 31 January 2018 and then last week it was confirmed that the new cut-off date is now 15 February 2018.
In a press statement, Home Affairs stated that by 29 January a total of 176 605 applicants for ZEP had completed the process, which includes keeping their appointments with VFS and submitting supporting documents and biometrics.
The extension to 15 February does not allow for new applications but serves only to allow for more time to submit fingerprints and supporting documents. Applicants who had submitted online applications by 30 November 2017 also have until 15 February to pay their application fees said the Department.
"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,” warns the Department’s press statement of the more than 19 000 estimated undocumented Zimbabweans in the country.
The Zimbabwean Special Permit (ZSP), which started in 2014 with 197 951 permits issued. The project came to an end last year with the introduction of the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit – effectively allowing Zimbabwean nationals unrestricted movement in the Republic.
ZEP permit holders will be allowed to work, study or conduct business in South Africa. The permits are valid for up to four years and all permits will expire on 31 December 2021.
Foreign nationals in South Africa are urged to speak to an immigration consultant to find out what their options are. Every year South African border officials detain and deport thousands of illegal foreign nationals at border posts and during sting operations.