The List: Temporary residence permits needed in South Africa

A temporary residence permit allows a foreign national to legally stay in South Africa for longer than 90 days. The permit can be a business, work, study exchange and medical treatment permit among other. Foreign nationals who wish to work, own a business or study in South Africa must have a valid permit. This is issued by the Department of Home Affairs (DHA).

Thousands of Zimbabwean permit holders are living in uncertainty. This is because the South African government has not yet indicated whether it will renew their permits. The department said an announcement about what happens with the Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP) will be made in due course. 


Zimbabweans in South Africa face uncertain future over ZEP status

There are other special permits available to citizens from Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) countries. They are the Angolan Exemption Permit (AEP) and Lesotho Exemption Permit (LEP).

Angolan Exemption Permit (AEP)

In August 2021, the DHA invited qualifying holders of the Angolan Special Permit (ASP) to apply for the Angolan Exemption Permit. The ASP was first issued in 2018 and expires at the end of this year. The conditions of the permit state that it cannot be extended, and its conditions cannot be changed.

In the statement, Home Affairs said that spouses and children of the affected Angolan nationals will also be allowed to apply for visas or permits after the main member has obtained an exemption permit.

All applicants who qualify for the exemption permit are required to submit Proof of Refugee or Asylum Seeker permit issued before 31 August 2013. They also need to include a copy of the Angolan Cessation Permit or Angolan Special permit and an Angolan passport valid for more than 12 months from date of application.The visa facilitation services global (VFS) processing fee of R1090 also needs to be paid.

All applications must be submitted online at the VFS office nearest to the applicant from August 16 2021 and the turnaround time to issue the Angolan Exemption Certificate is eight weeks.

Lesotho Exemption Permit (LEP)

In November 2019 The Department of Home Affairs opened online applications and took in appointments for the new Lesotho Exemption Permit (LEP). The LEP replaced the Lesotho Special Permit (LSP) which expired on December 31 2019. LEP permits were issued for a maximum period of four years effective from January 1 2020 and expiring on December 31 2023, notwithstanding the date of application. An administrative fee of R1090 was charged.


In November 2020, Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera requested that the South African government introduce special permits to his citizens that are working locally

“In the same vein, I would like to ask that Malawians be able to apply for new permits and renew expired ones while in South Africa as a reciprocal arrangement. More broadly I request your help in simplifying visa extension procedures,” said Chakwera.

The Malawi leader made the request during a meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa and various members of his Cabinet in Pretoria. During the meeting, Chakwera also expressed concern that Malawians are detained at Lindela Repatriation Centre for about 120 days before deportation.

Chakwera said: “Even if we say reduce it to 60 days it may be too many days as a first step towards the ultimate idea of seven days.”

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