What is the change? The Department of Home Affairs has again extended the deadline for submitting payment, biometrics and required documentation to support Zimbabwean Exemption Permit applications.

What does the change mean? Applicants who have already completed an online portion of the application now have until Feb. 15 to provide payment, biometrics and the required supporting documentation at one of the 10 Visa Application Centres in South Africa. The window to complete the online portion of the application has closed. Zimbabwean Exemption Permits were introduced in 2017 to replace Zimbabwean Special Permits.

  • Implementation time frame: Between now and Feb. 15.
  • 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: The Department of Home Affairs has said it will complete adjudication of Exemption Permit applications by September. Between now and then, Zimbabwean nationals may continue to work in South Africa with their expired Zimbabwean Special Permit and proof that they have applied for an Exemption Permit.

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 DHA said it had received 176,605 completed applications as of Jan. 29. The DHA has now extended the deadline for submitting payment, biometrics and required documentation to Feb. 15.

BAL Analysis: The extension will ease application procedures for 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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