What is the change? The Department of Home Affairs announced Friday that it will extend the deadline for submitting biometrics and documentation to support Zimbabwean Exemption Permit applications.

What does the change mean? An online portion of the application must be completed by Nov. 30. After that step is complete, applicants will be given until Jan. 31 to provide biometrics and the required supporting documentation. Under the previous deadline, the entire application had to be completed by Nov. 30.

  • Implementation time frame: Between now and Jan. 31.
  • Visas/permits affected: Zimbabwean Exemption Permit applications.
  • Who is affected: Zimbabwean Special Permit holders who want to remain in South Africa to work, study or conduct business by obtaining a Zimbabwean Exemption Permit.
  • Next steps: Although the application period has been extended, applicants must be sure to complete the first step by Nov. 30. They will then have two months to provide biometrics and supporting documentation.

Background: The Department of Home Affairs announced in September that Zimbabwean Exemption Permits would replace Zimbabwean Special Permits. The permits will allow qualifying Zimbabweans to work, study or conduct business in South Africa for up to four years. The application period opened Sept. 15 and Home Affairs Director-General Mkuseli Apleni said this week that DHA had received so many applications (nearly 136,000 have already scheduled appointments) that it decided to extend the application period.

BAL Analysis: The extended application period will ease the process for tens of thousands of Zimbabweans hoping to convert their Zimbabwean Special Permits and remain in South Africa. While the program will provide authorization to work, study or conduct business in South Africa for an additional four years, however, authorities made it clear that newly issued permits will not be extendable and will not be accepted as the basis to apply for permanent residency.

This alert has been provided by the BAL South Africa office. For additional information, please contact

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