Many Zimbabweans came to South Africa to find opportunities which Zimbabwe couldn't provide. Some came here to study, others to find employment. South Africa is home to almost 200 000 Zimbabweans who are in possession of the Zimbabwean Special Permit (ZSP). Zimbabwean citizens who were in SA illegally in 2010 had the opportunity to apply for these permits, which had them documented and given legal rights to be in SA.
Any Zimbabwean citizen could have applied for the ZSP in 2010, provided that they had a valid Zimbabwean passport, evidence of employment, business, or accredited study, and a clear criminal record. The permit gave them legal permission to live, study, work, or conduct business in South Africa until 2013.
The permits were extended for another four years and will expire 31 December 2017. At the end of last year, it was announced that the permits will not be renewed.
Many of the ZSP holders then feared that they will have to leave the lives they built in our beautiful country behind and that they will have to find another way to keep providing for their families who still live in Zimbabwe. Luckily it has been decided that a new type of permit will be introduced for 2018: the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP).
Although the ZEP still does not grant permanent residency in SA, it allows the Zimbabwean citizens to stay here a little longer.
According to Defenceweb, Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize of Home Affairs said, "The dispensation will greatly assist in advancing the objectives of the National Development Plan Vision 2030, particularly in respect of the economy and attracting critical skills into the country. It will also assist in addressing the flows of labour within the SADC region."
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What is the ZEP?
The Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) will replace the Zimbabwean Special Permit (ZSP) in 2018. If a person applies for the ZEP, they can continue to use the ZSP until the ZEP is issued.
Who can apply for the ZEP?
Zimbabwean citizens with valid ZSPs can apply for the ZEP. Unfortunately, no new applicants will be accepted.
How long is it valid for?
The ZEP is valid from 1 January 2018 to 31 December 2021 - a total of four years.
What do you need to apply?
According to Business Day, you need the following to apply for the ZEP:
- A valid Zimbabwean passport.
- Evidence of employment‚ such as a letter from your employer‚ in the case of an application for work rights.
- Evidence of business‚ in the case of an application for business rights.
- Admission letter from a recognised learning institution‚ in the case of an application for study rights.
What is the cost of the new permit?
The administration fee is R1090.
When can you apply?
Applications had opened on 15 September 2017 and will be open until 30 November 2017.
How to apply:
The following information is available on the VFS Global website:
- You will need to fill your application form online. Filling the Form online is mandatory as NO handwritten forms would be accepted.
- IMPORTANT - Before selecting an appointment date, please ensure that you plan accordingly for your supporting documents as rescheduling would only be allowed under special circumstances.
- After completing the Online form the applicant will need to ensure all supporting documents are in order and needs to be handed in when submitting on your appointment date.
If you need more information or need to apply, you can read more and apply here.