Work Permit South Africa for Zimbabweans

ZEP Permits Renewal 2022

ZEP Permits Renewal 2022 – Will not be renewed

This blog post has been personalized towards Zimbabwean nationals who are currently using the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) and what options are available to them. 

You are not allowed to apply for a temporary resident visa with a tourist visa in South Africa.

The Department of Home Affairs on the 29th of November 2021 issued a directive that they would no longer renew the ZEP visa and applicants currently on the ZEP visa have been granted a grace period up until 31st December 2022.

The Department of Home Affairs granted this grace period to allow Zimbabwean nationals to legalize their stay in South Africa through the various ways mentioned in the immigration Act 13 of 2002.

This means that all ZEP holders have until the end of the year to apply for a visa they qualify for.

A devastating blow from the Department of Home Affairs as there are a huge amount of ZEP visa holders in South Africa which some would not qualify for a visa.

Sadly if you do not qualify for a visa then two scenarios can play out:

  • You need to return to Zimbabwe
  • If you refuse to return and have not applied for a visa then you’ll be deported back to Zimbabwe.

We are urging all ZEP holders to take the time now to apply for a temporary residence permit / visa so that can legalize their stay once the grace period is over.

We have all the information you need for applying for a work permit South Africa and what you need to do.

Applying for a work permit South Africa for Malawians can be read here.

If you do not qualify for a visa, then you should find out about the South Africa visa types or you can read about the 5 different South Africa work visa types.

Permits for Zimbabweans in South Africa

Permits for Zimbabweans in South Africa

Now I’d like to discuss how ZEP holders can find ways to qualify for a visa and what they need to do.

Those who hold qualifications such as degrees and are experienced would most arguable stand a greater chance of receiving a visa.

The Department of Home Affairs is trying to protect the South African labour market and such first needs to look out for South African citizens and permanent residents.

Working without a work permit in South Africa can have dire consequences.

So what are my options:

Critical Skills Visa:

Home Affairs earlier this year released the latest critical skills occupation list and if your application is listed then you can potentially qualify for the critical skills visa.

The visa is valid for 5 years and leads to permanent residency.

What are the qualifying criteria?
  • Currently working in the same profession as nominated on the critical skills list or received a job offer.
  • Registered with a professional body, council or board.
  • In possession of qualification as stipulated on the CSV list.
  • SAQA certificate.

Applicants must start the application process now so that they can submit the application in time.

You need to register with a professional body and assessing your skills and qualifications can approximately take between 1 – 3 months on average depending on the number of applications received then.

Home Affairs is experiencing a huge backlog due to COVID-19 and thus once your visa is submitted it can take anything between 5-to 7 months to receive an outcome.

General Work Visa:

The general work visa is potential the most stringent work visa which is another option if you are not listed on the critical skills list.

When applying for this visa you need to prove that the company that you work have explored all avenues before awarding you with the job offer.

How to apply for a general work permit in South Africa has all the information you need.

So in layman’s terms, you need to prove that your occupation and experience are hard to find in South Africa, meaning that the business could not find a suitable SA citizen or permanent resident.


What are the qualifying criteria for the visa?
  • Currently working or been offered a job.
  • Department of Labour certificate.
  • SAQA certificate.

The general work permit is valid for 5 years or valid for the length of your contract if it’s less than 5 years.

If you are an unskilled worker for a company that you work for and play a pivotal role within the company then you can think of first submitting a waiver to waive the requirement for the Department of Labour certificate.

Submitting a waiver means that your company needs to motivate the reason why they need you and losing you would be devastating for the company. The application needs to be convincing and your employer should be willing to assist you in this instance.

The waiver takes about 5 months or more before an outcome is received.

We, therefore, urge you to compile the application for a general work permit whilst preparing the waiver application to speed things up.

It is not guaranteed that the waiver application would be successful but this is a chance that you would need to take.

If the application is successful this means that you are allowed to apply for the general work visa without the need of including the DOL certificate.

You can qualify for permanent residency.

Corporate Work Visa:

The corporate work visa used by large corporates to bring in a determined amount of foreign applicants can be another option for ZEP holders.

The qualifying criteria:
  • The company must have been issued a corporate visa.

The downfall about this particular visa is that you cant renew them. You would need to leave the country and then try to get an alternative visa.

Many corporates often have a corporate visa to employ a large amount of foreign I.T professionals which is hard to find in South Africa.

This visa does not qualify you for permanent residency.

Life Partner Visa with Working Rights:

A ZEP visa holder who is in a relationship with a South African citizen or permanent resident can put in an application with DHA.

This is a 2- year visa and can be extended before it expires.

There are many advantages to this life partner visa and less daunting than the above work visas:

  • You can add working rights or study rights or business rights.
  • Qualifies for permanent residency.
  • Not as difficult as the work visa application process

If you want to know how submit a life partner visa extension South Africa then you can read the post.

What are the qualifying criteria:
  1. There is a 2-year cohabitation requirement. You need to prove that you have stayed together for 24 months by providing a lease for example.
  2. Show shared financial responsibilities.

Spousal Visa with Work Rights:

If you are married to a South African citizen or permanent resident then you can apply for a spousal visa.

This is a 2-year visa and can be renewed.

Applicants qualify for permanent residency when their marriage hits the 5-year mark.

You have the option to add work rights or business rights or study rights.

Business Visa:

ZEP visa holders who have started their own business in South Africa can qualify for a business visa.

The business should not be classified as prohibited and you need to show that you have invested R 5 million within your business.

The qualifying criteria:
  • Invest 5 million within your business
  • Employ at least 60% South African citizens or permanent residence

You can submit a waiver to DHA to waive the 5 million requirements, however, you need to motivate why they need to waive the amount. You have to mention what impact the business and you might suffer should you have to close permanently.

Student Visa:

If you or your kids are studying or attending school in South Africa then you can submit an application for a student visa.

The student visa provides you or your kids with legal status to study in the Republic.

The qualifying criteria:
  • Acceptance from a recognized Education institution

Once again start prepping now so that you have enough time.

Can I add my family to my work visa?

Can I add my family to my work visa?

You can add immediate family members such as your spouse and kids which are not of school-going age.

The disadvantage of the accompanying spouse dependent visa is that your spouse is not allowed to work at all.

To work, they must qualify for their visa in their own right as per the sections above.

Children who are of school-going age must transfer over to a student visa.

My employer wants to relieve me of my services?

My employer wants to relieve me of my services?

You need to have a conversation with your employer that you are in the process of applying for a permit.

Educating them about the process should help clear any confusion around the topic and make your intentions clear that you are applying for the correct visa.

You need to speak to them and let them know that they are a crucial part of the process as they need to provide the following:

  • A written undertaking from your employer stating that they will ensure that your passport will always be valid whilst you are employed by them.
  • Your employer must furnish their particulars such as the proof of registration of the business (CIPC)
  • An undertaking from your employer to inform the Director-General should you not comply with provisions of the Act or the conditions of your visa.
  • Undertaking from your employer to notify the Director-General when you are no longer employed by them or when you are employed in a different capacity within the current company.

So working with your employer is vital to getting your visa and they help motivate the case.

Migrate With Q can assist you

Migrate With Q can assist you

The government won’t be renewing the ZEP visa and you have until the 31st of December 2022 to get a visa. Failure to do so means you have to travel back to Zimbabwe to live there permanently or you might be deported.

Month by month time is ticking away.

Our immigration service for South Africa is just perfect for you. You can complete a free assessment and we would tell you if you qualify.

About Charl

Charl Vollmer

Charl Vollmer has 8 years of experience helping people immigrate to South Africa. I am passionate about helping people and making their dreams a reality. Charl constantly stays up to date with South African Immigration rules and regulations.  To contact Charl, visit our contact page.

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