Extended Validity of Zimbabwean Exemption Permits

On 29 November 2021, a directive was issued by the Director-General of the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) confirming cabinet’s decision that, no further extensions would be granted to Zimbabwean nationals, who were holders of a Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP). This directive was subsequently withdrawn and replaced by a directive dated 29 December 2021.

5 Sep 2022 2 min read Immigration Insights Article

At a glance

  • The Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) holders were initially informed that no further extensions would be granted, but this directive was later withdrawn and replaced.
  • The validity of all ZEPs was extended until December 31, 2022, allowing holders to apply for alternative 'mainstream' visas.
  • Due to a review by the Minister of Home Affairs, the validity of ZEPs was further extended until June 30, 2023, but applicants are urged to apply promptly due to processing backlogs and no further extensions will be granted.

In terms of the newly issued directive, the validity of all ZEP’s that were granted to Zimbabwean nationals were extended for a period of 12 months, until 31 December 2022, in order to allow permit holders to apply for an alternative ‘mainstream’ visa in terms of the Immigration Act 13 of 2002 (Act).

During this period:

  • no ZEP holder is required to produce a valid exemption certificate or a letter of authorisation to remain in South Africa when applying for any category of visa;
  • no ZEP holder can be arrested, ordered to depart South Africa, or deported for any reason relating to the ZEP holder not being in possession of a valid exemption certificate in his/her passport; and
  • all ZEP holders are allowed to enter or depart from South Africa, subject to meeting the requisite requirements in terms of the Act.

On 2 September 2022, with the impending expiry date of the validity of ZEP’s looming, the Minister of Home Affairs (Minister) announced an extension of the validity of ZEP’s until 30 June 2023. This decision was made by the Minister after reviewing the progress report provided by Dr Cassius Lubisi, the head of the Departmental Advisory Committee. In terms of this report, the Minister was advised to consider extending the validity of ZEP’s considering inter alia, not many ZEP holders have applied for an alternative ‘mainstream’ visa or waiver application, where applicable.

While this decision provides all ZEP holders with an additional 6 months to apply for a ‘mainstream’ visa, all ZEP holders are urged to submit their applications as soon as possible. This is partly due to the DHA’s backlog in the processing of visa and waiver applications, and as the Minister reiterated that no further extensions will be granted.

The information and material published on this website is provided for general purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. We make every effort to ensure that the content is updated regularly and to offer the most current and accurate information. Please consult one of our lawyers on any specific legal problem or matter. We accept no responsibility for any loss or damage, whether direct or consequential, which may arise from reliance on the information contained in these pages. Please refer to our full terms and conditions. Copyright © 2024 Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr. All rights reserved. For permission to reproduce an article or publication, please contact us cliffedekkerhofmeyr@cdhlegal.com.