South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs has prolonged the stay of people seeking long-term visas and waivers in the country until December 31st this year.

This comes as Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP) holders await the determination of their visa and waiver applications following the termination of the special program and are expected to stay in South Africa until the end of June this year.

In a statement, the Department said the concession is valid to applicants who submitted their request through the Visa Facilitation Service (VFS) before or on Friday.

“The Department of Home Affairs extends the blanket concession to 31 December 2023 for long-term visa or waiver applicants who are awaiting outcomes of their applications.

“A Directive to the Home Affairs Head Office, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation’s Consular Services and Visa Facilitation Centres has been issued to communicate this decision.

“The decision means that long term visa or waiver applicants are permitted to legally remain in the country until 31 December 2023, pending the finalisation of their applications.

“Those that are travelling on passports issued by countries that are not visa exempted, are required to apply for a visitor’s visa to return to South Africa until their applications have been finalised.

“This concession is only applicable to applicants who have submitted an application via VFS before or on 31 March 2023.

“All visitors on short term visas whose validity was issued for less than 90 days are excluded from the concession and are required to depart before or on the date of expiry of the validity period of their visas.” read the statement

It is not clear though, if this position will affect ZEP holders who are currently seeking new visas and waivers.

There are more than 178,000 ZEP holders.

A number of Zimbabweans trekked down south in search of greener pastures.

Some of them have done so illegally.