The Department of Home Affairs has officially announced the framework for the extension of work permits issued under the Zimbabwean Documentation Project (ZDP) which ran from 2009 to 2014. In the June newsletter, the Advocacy Programme discussed the initial ZDP project and the ongoing discussions in government about how to address the upcoming expirations of these permits.On 12 August the Minister of Home Affairs announced the basic framework that the government will use to address the upcoming ZDP permit expirations. While initial discussions focused on the possibility of forcing Zimbabweans to return to Zimbabwe to apply for extensions, the Department has now announced that all permit holders will be allowed to apply for extensions in country. This is a welcome change in the Department’s previous stance and will greatly benefit ZDP permit holders. Additionally, ZDP permits are set to expire at different dates depending on when they were first issued – these expiration dates could be as early as the end of this year or as far forward as 2017. The Minister’s announcement has stated that all ZDP permits will expire on 31 December 2014 regardless of the date of expiration listed on the permit. It is crucial that all Zimbabweans are informed of this change in expiration date to avoid any potential problems in having their permits extended.The Department will being receiving permit renewal applications on 1 October 2014 and the final deadline for application will be 31 December 2014. These applications will be lodged through the new Departmental subcontractor VFS Global which now deals with the reception of immigration permit applications. The Department will establish four new offices in Gauteng, Western Cape, Limpop and Mpumalanga in addition to the 11 offices already opened to deal with appications. As with the ZDP permits, there will be several requirements for permit renewals. Thus far the Department has indicated that individuals will be required to meet the following criteria:
- have a valid passport;
- have evidence of employment; and
- have a clear criminal record.
As opposed to the initial ZDP project that did not require any administrative fee, renewals under the ZSP project will be subject to an administrative fee but the amount has not yet been decided. Importantly, all ZSP permits will expire on 31 December 2017 and there will be no renewal of these permits at that time. Individuals will be able to apply for mainstream immigration permits within 12 months of the expiration of the ZSP permits. These applications will need to be lodged from Zimbabwe. The Advocacy Programme will continue to assist individuals who have ‘fallen through the cracks’ such as those who never received their initial ZDP permit. There are also critical details that have yet to be finalised and the Advocacy Programme will engage with the Department on these matters in the coming months.