10 November 2017

Esteemed Members of the Media,

Good day, and welcome to the media briefing on the new Zimbabwean Exemption Permit, in short, ZEP.

Indeed we are thrilled by the rapid pace of applications for the new Zimbabwean Exemption Permit, which began on 15 September 2017, for valid Zimbabwe Special Permit (ZSP) holders. The submission of the completed applications commenced on 1 October 2017.

The ZSP, which started in 2014, and was issued for a period of three years, allowed Zimbabwean nationals to work, study or conduct business in South Africa. The ZSP will expire on 31 December 2017. The total number of ZSP permits issued was 197 941.

ZSP permit holders were advised to submit applications online, from 15 September 2017, through the VFS website, that is www.vfsglobal.com/ZEP/SouthAfrica/com. The cut-off date for the submission of on line applications is 30 November 2017. This means that Zimbabweans still have 20 days to make online applications.

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.

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 31 January 2018. Therefore, people must present themselves to VFS office until this date – 31 January 2018. By the end of September 2018, we should have completed the whole project, including finalising adjudications and issuing the new permits.

We emphasize that the 30th of November is only for submission of online applications. Flooding of VFS offices actually defeats the aim of using technology to improve service delivery. Just as it is comfortable to apply for exemption permits at home, where you do not have to queue, we want to ensure that people are not subjected to the discomfort of spending hours in a queue. The extension, up to 31 January 2018 is only for scheduling of appointments for the purpose of submitting biometrics (fingerprints) and supporting documents at VFS Offices.

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 listed below.  We reiterate that ZEP permits will be issued for a maximum period of four (4) years, effective from 01 January 2018 and expiring on 31 December 2021, notwithstanding the date of issue.

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.

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. 

In their nature, 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.

I thank you.






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