What is the change? The application period for a program that allows undocumented Lesotho nationals to regularize their status in South Africa will come to an end in two weeks.

What does the change mean? Lesotho nationals who are working, studying or operating a business in South Africa and who have been in the country since Sept. 30, 2015 and meet other criteria have until Sept. 30 to submit applications for Lesotho Special Permits, which will allow them to lawfully remain in South Africa and will be valid through Dec. 31, 2019.

  • Implementation time frame: The deadline for submitting an application is Sept. 30.
  • Visas/permits affected: Lesotho Special Permits.
  • Who is affected: Lesotho nationals seeking to regularize their status in South Africa.

Business impact: In some cases, Lesotho nationals will be required to submit an affidavit from an employer. Authorities have made it clear that there will be no adverse consequences for employers who submit a letter on behalf of an undocumented Lesotho national.

Background: The program to provide amnesty to undocumented Lesotho nationals was launched earlier this year.

To qualify, applicants must: be registered in Lesotho’s National Population Register, have a Lesotho passport or other travel document that is valid for at least four years, and provide proof of employment (in the form of an affidavit from an employer), of self-employment (in the form of business registration with SARS and CIPRO), or of study (in the form of registration at a South African school).

Those with passports or travel documents that are valid for less than three years will not be disqualified, but will be required to pay for both a new passport and a special permit when the passport expires. Those who have been in South Africa for less than 12 months will be required to obtain a Lesotho police clearance that is less than six months old. Lesotho nationals who used fraudulent documents to enter or remain in South Africa will be asked to surrender those documents without penalty when applying for a special permit.

The deadline for obtaining special permits was extended to Sept. 30 in June, but authorities have indicated it will not be extended a second time.

BAL Analysis: The amnesty program offers a good opportunity for Lesotho nationals, as well as employers of Lesotho nationals in South Africa, to regularize their status and obtain a special permit that will remain valid through the end of 2019. Those with questions about the application process should contract their BAL professional.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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