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Duty-free facility for citizens returning from SA

by Staff reporter
02 Nov 2022 at 05:01hrs | Views
Thousands of Zimbabweans returning home from South Africa after failing to have their exemption permits upgraded to normal immigrant visas can now bring back all their belongings duty-free, including one vehicle.

This is one of the many measures put in place by the Government to welcome back its citizens that have been working legally in South Africa, usually in skilled positions but under special permits for Zimbabweans rather than the general work and residence permits all other foreigners require.

Some Zimbabweans have these, and others are applying, but if they cannot obtain them then they will have to leave.

The Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEP) were given to Zimbabweans with skills that were crucial for the development of that country, but now South Africa believes there are enough of its own citizens available with the required skills and so is declining to renew the special Zimbabwean permits or issue new ones.

The South African government had initially given the ZEP holders up to December 31 this year to apply for alternative visas, and later extended the permit's validity to June 30 next year.

The alternative visas included student, business, spousal and work permit visas, the normal ones that foreigners working in South Africa need.

At the end of the grace period, those that fail to get alternative visas would be required to pack their bags and return to Zimbabwe, hence the preparations by the Government to ensure everyone coming home will get the best possible reception.

Speaking during yesterday's post-Cabinet briefing, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa, said

most ZEP holders did not qualify for the outlined critical skills visas, hence there had been low uptake.

The return of the legal ZEP holders was likely to be accompanied by mass deportations of undocumented Zimbabweans as well, Minister Mutsvangwa said.

"The Zimbabwean Government has issued guidelines and regulations for returning residents which include one duty-free vehicle and no limits to personal property.

"Government has also engaged the South African government, emphasising that Zimbabwe is ready to receive its returning nationals, who should comply with the relevant South African laws."

To prepare for the returning residents, Minister Mutsvangwa said, Cabinet had agreed to establish an inter-ministerial committee that would be supported by sub-committees that would look at the provision of transport and logistics, security, documentation, re-integration support, resource mobilisation, information and publicity as well as health and education.

Indications are that about 189 000 Zimbabweans held the ZEPs and the bulk of them face deportation after failing to get fresh permits under other schemes.

South Africa's Department of Home Affairs has said the cancellation of ZEPs and the need to apply for new visas was in line the new thrust of reviewing all visas issued as far back as 2004.

For one to get a student visa, they ought to provide proof of being admitted at a registered learning institution in terms of section 1 of the South African Schools Act or a college established in terms of the Further Education and Training Colleges Act.

To get a work visa, the applicant must prove they are filling a critical skill post and that their employer cannot find an equally qualified South African for the job. This requires the South African employer to take the lead in the application process.

According to a critical skill list released earlier this year, there are 101 jobs that meet the set requirements, mostly in fields related to technology and science, and the qualifications needed make it almost impossible for the generality of Zimbabweans working in South Africa to get the visa.

Prior to submitting an application for a Critical Skills Work Visa, the qualification must be evaluated by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) and there is need of confirmation from a professional body, council or board recognised by SAQA or any relevant government department confirming the skills or qualifications of the applicant and appropriate post qualification experience.

In the event that any law in South Africa requires one to be professionally registered in order to practise one's profession, the application must contain proof of an application made for a certificate of registration with the professional body, council or board recognised by SAQA.

Business visa applicants need to have a certificate showing that they have at least R5 million available in cash, or at least R5 million in cash and capital to be invested in South Africa. Spouses of skilled immigrants and business immigrants get in on with the primary visa holder.

Source - The Herald