Another 6-month extension for Zimbabwean Exemption Permits (ZEP)

Zimbabwean Exemption Permits

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The Department of Home Affairs has extended the Zimbabwean Exemption Permits deadline by another six months, the extension period will now end on 31 December 2023. This follows a previous six-month exemption that was due to expire on 30 June 2023.

Explaining the reasons for the permit extension, VFS Global is now receiving between 1 000 – 1 500 visa and waiver applications from the affected Zimbabwean nationals daily. For these reasons, the Director-General has deployed more officials to assist in the processing of the applications and decided to issue another Immigration Directive no: 2 of 2023. It gives ZEP holders a further six months to apply for alternative visas allowing them to remain and work in South Africa.

The ZEP program began when the South African government granted “special dispensation” for Zimbabweans who were in the country illegally, many of them having fled violence and instability in Zimbabwe. The South African government replaced the Special Dispensation for Zimbabweans with Zimbabwean Special Permits in 2014 and again in 2017 with the introduction of the ZEP. It allows permit holders to live, work and study in South Africa.

It is very important to take note that ZEP holders are still allowed to perform work and can continue receiving other South African services from banks, and financial- and/or learning institutions. Under the extension, no holder of a valid ZEP may be arrested, ordered to depart the country or be detained for deportation for any reason related to them not having a valid exemption certificate.

The liability to ensure that employees have the necessary legal status to be employed rests with the employer. Employees may not be dismissed out of hand once their permits expire, employers must therefore consider granting the employee reasonable time off and assistance in applying for an alternative visa and not wait till the last minute.

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Please read the Minister’s Immigration Directive NO.2 of 2023 here:

ZEP Immigration Directive No. 2 of 2023

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