File photo: ANA

Pretoria - Holders of the Zimbabwean special permit (ZSP) due to expire on December 31, 2017 are now able to apply for the new Zimbabwean exemption permit (ZEP) as announced by Home Affairs Minister Hlengiwe Buhle Mkhize.
 
The online ZEP application process opened on Friday and would close on Thursday, November 30, VFS Global said in a statement.

The new ZEP dispensation was valid for four years and would allow ZSP holders to continue to work, study, and run businesses in South Africa. Holders of ZSP’s would be required to complete the process individually which would include a personal appointment for registration of biometric data.   
 
As with the similar and successful ZSP programme introduced in August 2014, applications would be facilitated online on the VFS Global website, but the adjudication thereof would be handled by the home affairs department (DHA).
 
“Our visa centres and staff are ready to handle the volume of applications and call centre queries,” VFS Global chief operations officer for Africa Jiten Vyas said.

“We are making every effort to ensure a seamless application process that is an easy and effective experience. Our hope is that all ZSP holders apply for ZEP and complete the process by the end of November 2017 so they can move freely between Zimbabwe and their places of study, work, or business located in South Africa,” Vyas said.
 
All ZEP applicants should visit www.vfsglobal.com/ZEP/SouthAfrica to fill in the online application form individually and make payment individually. The DHA was facilitating dedicated ZEP application centres through its partnership with VFS Global.

Conditions of the new ZEP dispensation:
* Entitles the holder to work/ study and/or conduct business;
* Does not entitle the holder the right to apply for permanent residence irrespective of the period of stay in South Africa;
* Will not be renewable/extendable;
* Does not allow a holder to change conditions of his/her permit while in South Africa;
* ZSP permit holders who wish to convert their status to any other mainstream visa should apply timeously for such visa from within SA provided they meet all the requirements for that visa; and 
* A ZSP applicant will be allowed to travel using the ZEP receipt and the expired ZSP permit until such time as the ZEP permit is issued, without being declared undesirable.

Implementation of ZEP is as follows:
* The new ZEP project will begin on September 15, 2017;
* The ZEP is open for valid ZSP permit-holders only;
* Prospective applicants were advised to submit applications online from September 15, 2017 through the VFS website: www.vfsglobal.com/ZEP/SouthAfrica;
* Cut-off date for submission of applications is November 30, 2017; 
* An administrative fee of R1090 will be charged; 
* ZEP permits will be issued for a maximum period of four years effective from January 1, 2018 and expiring on December 31, 2021, notwithstanding the date of application; and
* Thereafter applicants will be allocated appointments for the required submission of fingerprints and supporting documents to VFS, from October 1, 2017. 

An applicant will be required to submit the following:
* A valid Zimbabwean passport;
- Evidence of employment in the case of an application for work rights;
- Evidence of business in the case of an application for business rights; and
- Evidence of an admission letter from a recognised learning institution in the case of an application for study rights.

VFS offices where ZSP holders may apply for the ZEP:
Durban - Musgrave Towers, Musgrave shopping mall, 5th Floor, Musgrave, Durban;
Cape Town - 2 Long street, 7th Floor, Cape Town;
Port Elizabeth - Office 7C, 1st floor Moffet and Main, Corner 17th Ave & Main Road, Walmer, Port Elizabeth;
Johannesburg - The Link, Old Pretoria Road, Half Way House, Midrand;
Rustenburg - Cnr of Boom and Fatima Bayet streets, Rustenberg;
Kimberley - Unit 3, Building 2, Agri Office Park, N12, Kimberley;
Polokwane - Thornhill Shopping Centre, Veldspaat and Munnik Avenue, Bendor Park, Polokwane;
Nelspruit - Office 5 F, Nedbank Building, 30 Brown Street, Nelspruit;
Bloemfontein - Suite 4, The Park, 14 Reid Street, Westdene, Bloemfontein;
George - Unit 5 Eagle View, Progress Street, George;
African News Agency