Cape Town - The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has extended the deadline for submissions of supporting documents and biometrics for Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) applications to 31 January 2018.
Applicants will still have to submit their applications online by 30 November 2017 – no handwritten forms would be accepted.
Home Affairs Director-General, Mkuseli Apleni, made the announcement on Friday, 10 November, and says that applicants who wish to travel during the festive season will have to produce their passports, ZSP sticker and receipt of ZEP application.
SEE: UPDATE: Biometric registration for Zim permit open
In August 2017, DHA announced that they will reopen the Zimbabwean Special Permit (ZSP) reapplications under a new project called Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP). Reapplication costs R1 090 and is only open to valid ZSP permit-holders.
David Hlabane of DHA told Traveller24 that there are two parts to the application process. First is the online application (deadline 30 November 2017) and second is a physical visit to a VFS office to submit supporting documents and biometric data (deadline now extended to 31 January 2018). Appointments must be made to collect biometric data such as fingerprints and photos, as well as supporting documents, says Hlabane.
Hlabane told Traveller24 that this extension to the second part of the application process is an attempt to reduce long queues at VFS offices.
With the extension, they can now complete their online application and have more time for the physical visit, thereby alleviating the congestion that ZEP applicants are experiencing at VFS offices.
"Since 1 October 2017, applicants were allocated appointments for the required submission of fingerprints and supporting documents to VFS. To date, 169 078 ZSP holders have completed their applications online, and 135 913 have scheduled their appointments. A total of 72 612 applicants have completed the entire process. The entire process includes honouring their appointments with VFS and submitting supporting documents and biometrics," says Apleni.
SEE: Update: Home Affairs announce Zim special permit reapplications
Apply online by 30 November 2017
Applicants must still submit their applications online by 30 November 2017. This permit will be valid for a maximum of four years until 31 December 2021, regardless of the date of application.
"ZSP permit-holders are therefore urged to still complete their applications online, make the necessary payment and schedule appointments by 30 November 2017 at any of the 10 VFS Global offices," adds Apleni.
Zimbabwean Exemption Permit Centres are now open in 10 cities within South Africa, and the applications will be assessed by the Department in Pretoria.
Here's where applicants need to apply at VFS Global offices:
"By the end of September 2018, we should have completed the whole project, including finalising adjudications and issuing the new permits," says Apleni.
Apleni says that there is no requirement for ZSP holders to apply for permits outside South Africa. "They can apply for mainstream permits in the country. ZSP holders who want to travel outside South Africa for the festive season, will be able to do so. They only need to produce their passports with the ZSP stickers and their ZEP application receipts."
SEE: UPDATE: How to apply for a Zim Exemption Permit
How to apply
DHA encourages current ZSP holders to apply for the permit “to move out of the dispensation and apply for mainstream visas”.
Former minister Hlengiwe Mkhize said that the importance of registering as a migrant in establishing “a national identity system which is secured”.
Apleni says “To be admitted to another country is not a right, it’s a privilege” and that “it’s wrong to just go into another country”.
However, permit applicants have taken to Twitter to share that the process has not been easy, with one saying he tried applying but confusion remains around the application process. “Please tell us the truth or we have to stay illegal,” says the applicant.
VFS Global responded by saying that queries should be directed to them:
There are a few steps to follow when applying for the permit. Click here for more information on what you need to do.
Apleni adds that "exemption permits are not permanent or long-term. They are there only to serve a specific purpose, with a view ultimately to having people returning to their countries of origin to build their lives anew."
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- UPDATE: How to apply for a Zim Exemption Permit
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