The South African government has extended for Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) holders to apply for appropriate visas and waivers by a further six-month.
The new deadline is now December 31, 2023, after which Zimbabwean nationals who fail to secure appropriate visas would be forcibly deported.
The initial deadline was June 30, 2023, that deadline was an extension from an earlier deadline this year.
The latest extension is expected to allow Zimbabwean nationals additional time to apply for the required visa or other waivers and comply with the South African Immigration Act.
The extension also allows these Zimbabwean nationals to work, study or live in South Africa until December 31, 2023.
The Minister of Home Affairs in South Africa made the announcement for the extended the deadline on Wednesday, 2023.
During the period until 31 December 2023, ZEP holders, may be allowed to depart or enter South Africa, provided the holder complies with all other requirements (except having a valid permit) for entry into and departure from the country.
The government said Zimbabwean national affected may not be ordered to depart, be arrested, be detained for purposes of deportation, or be deported for any reason related to the holder not having a valid exemption permit.
They should not be required to produce, a valid exemption permit, an authorization letter to remain in South Africa when submitting an application for any category of visas, including temporary residence visas.
About 178,000 holders of the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit, are however advised to submit their applications as soon as possible, to avoid delays in processing visa applications.
Many Zimbabweans, some undocumented, are living in South Africa, with a significant influx recorded following the 2008 political and economic upheaval in Zimbabwe that resulted in many fleeing to their southern African neighbor.