South Africa : 170 000 Zimbwean refugees get new four-year permits

THE South African Government has extended the deadline for applications for the Zimbabwe Exemption Permit to January 30 next year. The applications for the new permits were supposed to close at the end of this month. More than 169 000 Zimbabweans had applied to regularise their stay in South Africa through the ZEP that will come into effect next year.

ZEP will run from January 2018 to 2021 and will replace the Zimbabwe Special Permit which accommodated close to 200 000 people and expires at the end of this year.

However, the deadline extension will be for those who had made successful online applications which opened on September 15. In a media briefing yesterday, South Africa’s Home Affairs Director General Mr Mkuseli Apleni said although the ZEP accommodates 197 941, so far 169 000 individuals have made the applications with 72 000 have completed the whole process.

He urged those who have not made the online applications to make their submissions on www.vfsglobal.com/ZEP/SouthAfrica/com<http://www.vfsglobal.com/ZEP/SouthAfrica/com> before month end.

Mr Apleni said the deadline extension would cater for those who have scheduled appointments.  “Since October, 1, 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,” said Mr Apleni.

He said the Ministry had been forced to reconsider its closing deadline to accommodate applicants due to congestion at its offices. “Due to the large number of ZSP permit-holders who have completed the online applications thus far, the Department has extended the closing date for the submission of supporting documents and biometrics to January 31, 2018. Therefore, people must present themselves to the VFS office until this date –January 31, 2018.

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By the end of September 2018, we should have completed the whole project, including finalising adjudications and issuing the new permits,” Mr Apleni said.

He said he was pleased that some of the ZSP holders were now regularising their stay through normal visa applications in South Africa.

Mr Apleni said those seeking new permits would not be affected if they seek to travel in and out of the country during the festive season. “I wish to take this opportunity also to thank those Zimbabwean nationals who were on ZSP but are now increasingly applying for mainstream permits issued under South Africa’s immigration legislation. 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,” he said. – @nqotshili

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