South African Visa Options for ZEP Holders

We have received a huge number of enquiries from Zimbabwean Nationals with Zimbabwean Exemption Permits. The Department of Home Affairs announced that the ZEP would not be extended again and that there would be a 12-month grace period for applicants to apply for other permits appropriate to their particular status or situation.

  1. General work visa:

The first step to obtaining a General Work Visa is obtaining a certificate from the Department of Labour confirming;

  1. despite diligent search, the prospective employer has been unable to find a suitable citizen or permanent resident with qualifications or skills and experience equivalent to those of the applicant;
  2. the applicant has qualifications or proven skills and experience in line with the job offer;
  3. the salary and benefits of the applicant are not inferior to the average salary and benefits of citizens or employees occupying similar positions in the Republic;
  4. a contract of employment stipulating the conditions of employment and signed by both the employer and the applicant in line with the labour standards in the Republic and is made conditional upon the general work visa being approved;

Unless the applicant has a very rare skill, supported by a formal qualification and many years of experience, it is highly unlikely that they will be able to get past the first requirement. Only once the applicant has the labour certificate, can they submit their application for a general work visa at VFS.

  1. Critical skills visa:

The Department of Home Affairs eventually gazetted the much-anticipated revised critical skills list on 2nd February 2022. Only 101 roles made the final list, with the majority requiring advanced diplomas or degrees to qualify. Please see the link below

Gazetted_Critical_Skills_List_2022-compressed.pdf (

       To qualify for a critical skills visa the applicant needs:

  1. Relevant minimum qualifications for the roles as defined on the gazette list
  2. Be able to meet the minimum requirements of the particular professional body associated with each role
  3. Have a permanent job offer in that particular role

For applicants that qualify, this is a great option, as they would be able to apply for permanent residency, as soon as their critical skills visa is issued.

  1. Life partner/spousal visa:

 This may be an option for applicants who are in an exclusive relationship with a South Africa and are able to prove that they have been in a relationship for at least two years. They will need to be able to prove that they have been in an exclusive relationship, have been cohabitating, and share mutual financial responsibilities. That may sound simple enough but providing solid evidence to satisfy the DHA isn’t always so easy. We usually recommend documentation such as joint leases, confirmation of access to each other’s bank account and joint insurance/medical policies.

Applicants that have a registered business or a permanent job, can apply for a work endorsement to be added to their visa. This endorsement limits them to only working for the company specified on their visa. Should they change employers, they will need to apply for a change of condition.

Successful applicants can then go on to apply for permanent residency if they can demonstrate that they have been together for 5 years.

  1. Business visa:

While many Zimbabweans have registered business in South Africa, the majority will not qualify for a business visa, as the required minimum for most industries is R5 million.

The capital requirements above may be reduced or waived in respect of the following types of industries/businesses:

  1. Information and Communication Technology
  2. Clothing and textile manufacturing
  3. Chemicals and bio-technology
  4. Agro-processing
  5. Metals and minerals refinement
  6. Automotive manufacturing
  7. Tourism
  8. Crafts

Applicants will also be required to submit their business plan to the Department of Trade and Industry so that they can obtain the required letter of recommendation from the regarding-

  1. The feasibility of the business; and
  2. The contribution to the national interest of the Republic
  1. Study visa:

This is unfortunately the only possible option, for many of the applicants that have contacted us. To qualify for a study visa, applicants need to be accepted to study at a SAQA registered training institution. Applicants are permitted to work on a part-time basis (max 20 hours per week) on a study visa, so they can gain some practical experience in their chosen field. It is important to note, that study visas are only issued for the duration of the course and there is no automatic option to remain in South Africa at the end of their studies. This can be a useful option for applicants in a relationship with a South African that need time to build up sufficient evidence of their relationship.

Our recommendation to many applicants that wish to remain in South Africa indefinitely, is to study towards as skill on the critical skills list, mentioned above, as they would have a clear path to being able to qualify for permanent residency. They would need to be able to meet all the requirements of the critical skills visa by the time they qualify, so it is vital that they do proper research.

Unfortunately, in terms of the current South African Immigration legislation, many Zimbabweans, even those that have been in South Africa for many years, do not qualify for any of the above-mentioned visas. There are many NGOs doing great work trying to find alternative solutions. The Scalabrini Centre is one such organization and is gathering Zimbabwe Exemption Permit information to assist in our advocacy work seeking documentation solutions. I would suggest that all the Zep holders register with them

 ZEP Holder Information for Scalabrini Centre Advocacy (


After many months of waiting, the Department of Home Affairs finally gazetted the new Critical Skills list for South Africa on 2nd February 2022.

The Department of Home Affairs appears to have gone through an engagement and evaluation process. The full details of the assessment process are available for those who may be interested 2022-Technical-Report-Finalisation-of-the-Critical-Skills-List-compressed.pdf (

Important things to note:

  1. The list has been reduced to only 101 roles. Many of the roles on the previous list have been excluded. Many of the roles that were on the draft list have been excluded, and in some cases, whole industries have been excluded.
  2. The descriptions have been more clearly defined.
  3. The qualification requirements have been defined at a NQF level.
  4. The revised list applies with immediate effect.

Link here to view the gazetted critical skills list

Gazetted_Critical_Skills_List_2022-compressed.pdf (

While we welcome the clarity that the gazetted list provides, we know that many of our clients who currently hold critical skills visas will no longer be eligible when their current visas expire. 

The gazetted list further limits the immigration options for many Zimbabwean applicants seeking alternatives to the Zimbabwe Exemption Permit.


Statement by the Minister of Home Affairs regarding the reopening of borders and services during Alert Level 1

30 September 2020

All 18 land ports of entry will be opened with effect from 1 October 2020. The other 35 land ports of entry remain closed.

The Department of Home Affairs is extending the validity period of legally issued visas which expired during the lockdown period to 31 January 2021.

Holders of such visas are permitted to remain in the country under the conditions of their visas until 31 January 2021. Those wishing to be repatriated to their countries within this period can depart without being declared undesirable persons.

The Department is also resuming services for applications for identity cards or documents and for all types of passports.

Visa services, including submission of applications through VFS Global, will also resume in the following categories:

  • Visitor’s visas;
  • study visa;
  • treaty visa;
  • business visa;
  • crew visa;
  • medical treatment visa;
  • relative’s visa;
  • general work visa;
  • critical skills work visa;
  • intra-company transfer work visa;
  • retired person visa;
  • corporate visa;
  • exchange visa;
  • waiver of prescribed requirement, as contemplated in section 31(2)(c); and
  • appeals or reviews contemplated in section 8 of the Immigration Act.

Some of these services will also be available through our Missions abroad.

Any person from a country listed as having a high COVID-19 infection and transmission rate, who wish to undertake a business travel into South Africa, maywith effect from 01 October 2020, in writing, apply to the Minister of Home Affairs and demonstrate reasons for their request to enter the Republic for business purposes during the period of the national state of disaster.

Such applications must be directed to email and supported by:

  1. a copy of passport and/or temporary residence visa;
  2. ​proof of business activities to be undertaken in the Republic;  
  3. proof of travel itinerary; and
  4. proof of address or accommodation in the Republic.

We need to remind our people that the fact that we are at level 1 lockdown, does not mean that the Covid-19 pandemic is over. We still have to take precautions, and some of them, might be very hard decisions to make. But this will be done in such a way that it strikes a balance between saving lives and livelihoods.

In this regard, the opening of international travel will follow a Risk Adjusted Approach. Earlier today, a list of high risk countries was read at a Press Conference. Unfortunately this list was not exhaustive, and might also have included some countries by mistake. We are hereby releasing the whole updated list, and we heartily apologize for any confusion and any inconvenience caused by the earlier release:

  • Albania ​​​
  • Argentina
  • Armenia
  • Austria
  • Bahrain
  • Belgium
  • Bolivia
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Brazil ​​​ ​​​​
  • Chile
  • ​​​Columbia
  • Costa Rica
  • Croatia 
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Ecuador
  • France​​​
  • Georgia ​
  • Greece
  • Guatemala ​
  • Guyana​​​
  • Honduras
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • India
  • Iran
  • ​​​Iraq
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Jamaica
  • Jordan
  • Kuwait
  • Lebanon
  • Luxemburg ​​
  • Maldives
  • Malta
  • Mexico
  • Moldova
  • Montenegro ​​​
  • Nepal ​​
  • Netherlands 
  • North Macedonia
  • Oman
  • Palestine
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Peru ​​​
  • Portugal
  • Puerto Rico
  • Qatar
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • Slovakia
  • Suriname
  • Switzerland
  • Ukraine
  • ​​​United Emirates
  • United Kingdom              ​
  • USA
  • Venezuela​

We need to emphasize once more that people who are not allowed from these high risk countries are leisure travellers only. Other categories of people from these countries, are allowed under special conditions, as appears in the Regulations and Directions.

The above list will be reviewed every fortnight.

Statement by Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi outlining additional services which resumed during Alert Level 2 of the Lockdown

28 August 2020 

My colleague, Deputy Minister, Honourable Mr Njabulo Nzuza

Home Affairs Acting Director General Mr Jackson Mckay

Home Affairs Deputy Director General for Civic Services Mr Thomas Sigama

Members of the media

Fellow citizens

Good morning and thank you for making time to engage with us as we outline services which are offered by the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) under Alert Level 2 of the lockdown. The services resumed on 26 August 2020 after the Directions authorising the provision of these services was gazetted.

The Deputy Minister and I work closely with the Department to constantly review the services which can be resumed safely in line with the Disaster Regulations and health protocols in place.

As a way of balancing the need to offer critical enabling documents to citizens, Directions providing for the following additional services was issued on Tuesday, 25 August 2020:

● All Temporary Identity Certificates issued during the period of the National State of Disaster that have not yet expired on the date of commencement of this Directions, are hereby extended up to 31 October 2020;

● Applications for Identity Cards or Green Barcoded Identity Documents by persons who have been issued with a Temporary Identity Certificate during the National State of Disaster, which certificates have expired;

● Applications for first issue of Identity Card or Green Barcoded Identity Document;

● Applications for amendments of personal particulars;

● Applications for rectification of personal particulars.

In the period between 27 March 2020 and 21 August 2020, the Department issued 347 787 Temporary ID Certificates. Gauteng accounted for most of these TICs and has issued 92 597.

Of the total issued TICs, 65 129 have expired. Holders of these expired TICs are now eligible to apply for Smart IDs. The validity period of remaining 282 658 TICs has been extended to 31 October 2020.

On average, the Department processes one million first time applications a year, mostly from learners. The Department has received a report from the Department of Basic Education indicating that there are 637 767 learners who do not have IDs.

The Deputy Minister is leading the initiative of ensuring that learners are issued with their IDs. He will provide more details on this important work.

On average, 4 000 people a month visit our offices for amendments and rectification of personal particulars.

South Africans who are abroad and need to return to SA can apply for emergency passports.

The Department, in partnership with the banks which participate in the online system for smart ID card and passport applications has opened for collections for clients who had applied for these documents before the lockdown. This service will only be provided on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays during the banks’ operating hours.

People who had applied for these documents before 26 March 2020, which is the lockdown’s starting date, may collect their smart ID cards and/or passports from their selected bank branches.

Bank branches that will be re-opening for collection of smart ID cards and passports, are the following:

  1. Absa Greenacres, Port Elizabeth 
  2. Absa Sandton City 
  3. Absa Towers, Johannesburg 
  4. Absa Lifestyle, Centurion
  5. FNB Lifestyle, Centurion 
  6. FNB Menlyn, Pretoria
  7. FNB Merchant, Sandton 
  8. FNB Portside, Cape Town
  9. Investec Bank Sandton 
  10. Nedbank Arcadia 
  11. Nedbank Constantia Kloof, Roodepoort
  12. Nedbank Rivonia
  13. Nedbank Nelspruit 
  14. Nedbank St Georges Mall, Cape Town 
  15. Standard Bank Simmonds Street
  16. Standard Bank Canal Walk, Cape Town 
  17. Standard Bank Killarney Mall
  18. Standard Bank Centurion Lifestyle 
  19. Standard Bank Kingsmead, Durban
  20. Standard Bank Jubilee Mall, Hammanskraal 

The eHomeAffairs portal remains deactivated as new applications are still not accepted in the current level of the lockdown.

The refugee reception offices and borders throughout the county remain closed. VFS offices are open only by appointment for collection of outcomes on applications which were made before the lockdown.

During each lockdown level, we analyse the numbers of people who normally visit our offices and determine which services we can offer safely. At all time, we aim to protect the lives of our employees and citizens while ensuring access to essential services. In reality, the pandemic is still with us and we want to keep the numbers of people who could be exposed to the virus in our offices to a bare minimum.

Even when the world paused during Level 5 of the lockdown, Home Affairs didn’t. We couldn’t. Our people needed our services to adjust to the new normal. We kept going within the limitations caused by the Covid 19 regulations. Since the beginning of the lockdown until 21 August 2020, our committed and dedicated staff assisted more than 1.6 million people who visited our offices with crucial enabling documents.

We assisted people with the following services;

● 181 492 re-issue of replacement birth certificates,

● 198 846 death registrations

● 347 787 Temporary ID Certificates, as indicated earlier

● 366 988 birth registrations

● 318 812 IDs and

● 195 474 passports, mostly for people involved in essential services 

From the beginning of the lockdown on 27 March 2020 until Wednesday, 26 August 2020, our immigration officials assisted 839 004 people to cross our borders under the permissible conditions. Most of these people were foreign nationals who were returning to their countries and South Africans who were returning home, to South Africa. Some of these South Africans have since returned to their base countries. Other people who were assisted include those who were travelling for emergency medical evacuations.

As we resume more services, I urge everyone who will be visiting our offices and our partner banks to observe health protocols aimed at combating the spread COVID-19. They must wear face masks, maintain social distancing and adhere to all other applicable regulations. The banks had undertaken to continue doing all in their powers to protect staff and clients.

The Directions can be accessed via the following links:

‬‬‬Thank you