On 25 November 2021, the Cabinet has announced that no further concession will be allowed and as such ZEP holders will no longer be able to extend their permits in terms of this special dispensation. The Department of Home Affairs have granted a 12-month grace period from the current ZEP expiry to allow permit holders to apply for a visa in a different category to allow them to legally reside in the country.
ZEP Permit Background
The Zimbabwean special dispensation started in 2009 and was called the Dispensation for Zimbabwe Permit. It provided for the documentation of qualifying Zimbabweans for a five-year period.
The permits were extended in 2014 for a further three-year period until 2017 and called the Zimbabwean Special Permit. The current Zimbabwean Exemption Permits were issued in 2017 and expire on 31 December 2021.
Next Step For ZEP Holders
ZEP holders have been granted a 12-month grace period to change status to a different type of visa, subject to qualifying for an alternative visa category.
ZEP holders may qualify for the following types of visas:
- Spousal / Life Partner Visa with Work Authorisation (if married or in a permanent relationship with a South African Citizen / Permanent Resident, subject to conditions).
- Relative’s Visa (if related to a South African Citizen / Permanent Resident who is either a spouse, parent or child).
- Critical Skills Work Visa (if holder of critical skills as set out in the Gazetted Critical Skills List issued by DHA).
- General Work Visa (if offered South African employment and approved by Department of Labour, subject to assessment).
- Study Visa (if enrolled /accepted to take up studies at a registered educational institute in South Africa).
- Business Visa (where you have your own business and meet the investment and labour requirements)
- Retired Person Visa (where the applicant has income exceeding R37,500 per month from a pension, irrevocable annuity or other income source)
Should you be affected by these recent changes and require assistance to determine your eligibility for other visa categories, you may contact Xpatweb for a consultation and further guidance on your requirements.
Source: Department of Home Affairs