Cape Town Angola Special Permit Update

Angola Special Permit update

This instruction video guides Angolan nationals on how to apply for the Angolan Exemption Permit (AEP), following the announcement by the Department of Home Affairs regarding the AEP permit on 5 August 2021

Who can apply for the Angolan Exemption Permit? 

  1. Angolans who were issued with the Angolan Cessation Permit (ACP) but did not apply for the Angolan Special permit (ASP).
  2. Angolans who were issued with the Angolan Special permit (ASP).
  3. All Angolan refugees or asylum seekers who were issued with Section 24 or Section 22 permits before 31 August 2013, this being the date when the Tripartite Commission Agreement was signed marking the end of the Civil War in Angola.

What are the requirements for application? 

  1. Angolan passport valid for more than 12 months on date of application.
  2. Proof of Refugee/Asylum Seeker Permit issued before 31 August 2013
  3. Copy of Angolan Cessation Permit (ACP) or Angolan Special permit (ASP)

Do I need to pay an application fee for the Angolan Exemption Permit? 

Yes, the Visa Facilitation Services (VFS) processing fee is R1 090. This is a requirement for the processing of your application and is NOT negotiable. Applicants under the ACP and ASP dispensation were not required to pay application fees. However, the Angolan Exemption Permit comes with rights of residency, which attract a fee for the processing. Clients who intend to apply for permits for their spouses and children must take note of the application fees requirement.

Is there an expiry date to these permits as was the case with the ACP and ASP?

The Angolan Exemption Permits will be issued with permanent residency and will not have an expiry date. The Minister of Home Affairs has in the past granted the rights of permanent residency for a specified period of time. This time around, permanent residency will be granted indefinitely which will allow permit holders when granted to apply for identity documents.

Is there a closing date for applying for the Angolan Exemption Permits? 

The Department of Home Affairs has not indicated when applications will be closed. However, we advise clients to submit their applications timeously to avoid a rush, should Home Affairs announce a closing date at a later time.

Can spouses and children apply for the Angolan Exemption Permit? 

Spouses and children of the affected Angolan nationals will be allowed to apply for mainstream visas or permits after the main member has obtained his/her exemption permit.

  • The spouse of an individual who has been granted permanent residency can apply for a temporary spousal permit
  • Children of the permanent resident of school going age are eligible to apply for a study permit.
  • Children who are not yet in school are eligible to apply for a relative’s visa.

All of these applications can be made from within South Africa. This is a positive move as this waives the requirement for first time applications to be lodged from the country of origin. In the interim these spouses and children should apply for a valid passport.

How does one apply for the police clearance report?

A South African Police Report, will be obtained by the department on behalf of the applicant, and a fee must be paid for this report.

Please note that an additional R185.00 is required for the police clearance report. This fee is payable at the VFS offices and they do NOT accept cash payments.

Applicants must ensure that they have made provision for payment by card for this service.

How long after submission of the required documents will it take before permits are issued?

The turnaround time to issue the Angolan Exemption Certificate may take up to eight weeks. However, it may take longer than that and applicants can track the status of their applications on the VFS website.

Are we required to submit proof of employment or study as in previous years? 

The Angolan Exemption permit will be issued with rights of permanent residency and with that comes the right to work and study in South Africa. Supporting documentation for your application is explained in step 1 above.

Will Scalabrini be assisting with submission of  applications for the Angolan Exemption Permits?

Scalabrini is not able to assist with applications at this point.  However, we are planning to do a step-by-step tutorial guide on how to submit the online application on the VFS website.

 

What is the history behind the ASP permit?
Several ASP permit holders have asked for an explanation of the history behind ASP and how we got to this stage.
During the 1990s, thousands of Angolans sought refuge in the new democracy of South Africa, escaping a devastating civil war that continued for decades. This group of Angolans were granted temporary refugee status by the South African government which was renewed approximately every four years.

In 2012, the UNHCR recommended that, due to changes in Angola, States could cease refugee status for Angolans. Pursuant to this UNHCR recommendation, the South African government, the UNHCR and the government of Angola agreed that Angolan refugees living in South Africa no longer needed the protection of the South African government since the Angolan civil war had concluded and political stability had returned to Angola. In 2013, the South African government announced cessation and between May and August 2013, withdrew the refugee status of Angolan refugees.

The Angolan refugee community – which has integrated into South African society over the last twenty years – was deeply impacted by the possibility of forced return. A 2014 research report by the Scalabrini Centre identified the community’s deep levels of socioeconomic integration and The Cessation, a short documentary, traced the impact of the cessation process on three Angolan refugees living in Cape Town. Aside from the socioeconomic integration of the Angolan community, an entire generation of children born to Angolan parents have never set foot in Angola and know South Africa as their home.

The legal process for cessation involved the withdrawal of refugee status through the issuance of notification to the individual by the Standing Committee for Refugee Affairs, to which he or she may respond.

Angolan refugees who had their status withdrawn were provided with three options: voluntary repatriation to Angola, apply for continued refugee status, or apply for a temporary residency visa to remain in South Africa.

The large majority of affected Angolans applied for the temporary residency visa. This came to be known as the ACP permit: a two-year work, study or business permit which was issued under relaxed immigration rules valid from 2013 to 2015. According to the Department of Home Affairs, 2,049 ACP permits were issued in total.

As the expiry dates of the ACP permits neared, it became apparent that ACP permit holders could not extend their permits, due the strict Regulations of the Immigration Act. In May 2014, the Scalabrini Centre began discussions with Home Affairs to advocate for continued legal stay of ACP permit holders, under relaxed immigration conditions, based on their strong ties to South Africa.
The Scalabrini Centre asked Home Affairs to extend these permits or provide permanent residency. However, Home Affairs declined. In October 2015, the Scalabrini Centre submitted an application for permanent residency made on behalf of the entire category of ACP-permit holders. Home Affairs did not respond.

In November 2016, after a year of legal steps and negotiations, the Minister for Home Affairs agreed in an out of court settlement to consider and determine applications for permanent residence in terms of section 31(2)(b) of the Immigration Act for all ACP permit holders. The procedure for this application was set out in a Court Order by the Western Cape High Court.

The Court Order tasked the Scalabrini Centre with receiving permanent residency applications, and was bound to deliver these applications to Home Affairs on 15 February 2017. In December 2016, the Scalabrini Centre opened a receiving centre. This ran until 20 January 2017, at which point 1,776 Angolan applicants had come through its doors. In total, 1,241 permanent residency applications were received at the Scalabrini Centre.
Angolans in other South African cities sent their applications to the Scalabrini Centre via the Legal Resources Centre, Lawyers for Human Rights and the Refugee Rights Centre at Nelson Mandela University. This brought the total number of applications to 1,737.
Angolan ACP permit holders were asked to provide a variety of documents, including police clearance certificates, proof of work, bank statements and proof of integration into South African life. Some applicants submitted applications that were hundreds of pages long, documenting two decades of lives and the Angolan community's contribution to democratic South Africa.
These applications – bound in 160 files comprising of an estimated 80,000 pages – were delivered to Home Affairs on 15, 16 and 17 February 2017. It took three days to process receipts for the lodgment of these applications.

The Court Order stipulated that the Minister of Home Affairs must issue individual decisions for each applicant by 15 May 2017. An extension was agreed upon and in July 2017, the Minister of Home Affairs decided to grant conditional rights of permanent residency to the entire class, for a period of four years. Conditions included that applicants must submit photos, biometrics, police clearance certificates and supporting documents via VFS. Applicants had until 15 December 2017 to provide the necessary documentation to VFS.

Return or remain? – Finding solutions for Angolan refugees in South Africa

In a four-part series, we summarize academic articles published by the Scalabrini Institute for Human Mobility in Africa (SIHMA), which conducts research on migration in Africa. The statistics below were taken from, “Angolan refugees in South Africa: alternatives to permanent repatriation?,” originally authored by Sergio Carciotto.

Perceiving refugee status as a ‘temporary’ status is not a new phenomenon. Host states often advocate political, or so called ‘durable’ solutions in the form of voluntary repatriation. Voluntary repatriation is advocated especially in cases where it is considered safe for refugees to return to their country of origin, such as when a cessation of refugee status is declared That Europe is ready to commit to refugee repatriation, is made clear by Angela Merkel. In 2016, she announced that she expects all Syrian refugees to return home once returning is considered safe again.*

Voluntary repatriation can be accompanied by a whole range of practical, identity and post-conflict related problems. Sergio Carciotto, the associate director of the Scalabrini Institute for Human Mobility in Africa (SIHMA), , gives us insight into the process of voluntary repatriation in South Africa after Angolan refugees had their refugee status ceased in 2013. This came to be known as the ‘Angolan Cessation’.

The findings of his article, “Angolan refugees in South Africa alternatives to permanent repatriation”, reveal that only 30% of the Angolans, participating in the research were willing to voluntary return home. The majority of respondents had spent an average of 18 years living in South Africa, without being able to access permanent residency in the country. His research questions the idea of voluntary repatriation as a durable solution and gives insight into the return decision-making process of refugees. Despite a different geographical context, the underlying understanding of the concept of ‘returning home’ remains the same. This blog explores Carciotto’s article to analyse the current discourse on refugee repatriation in a world-wide context.

Lessons learned from the Angolan Cessation

Angola was devastated by a long civil war which began in 1975 after the country’s declaration of independence in 1961. The Angolan civil war formally concluded in 2002 with the Luena Peace Agreement and stability gradually returned to the country.**

In May 2013, the South African government formally declared the cessation of refugee status for all Angolan refugees. This announcement came in the wake of the 2011 UNHCR declaration that conditions in Angola had improved and that it was safe for refugees to return and followed the political and economic stabilization of Angola.

During the course of his study, Carciotto conducted structured questionnaires, in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with former Angolan refugees assisted by the Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town. The results show that reasons for the respondents’ reluctance to return to Angola are complex and determined by a number of factors which refer both to the conditions in their home country and in the host state. A large number of respondents mentioned the lack of adequate healthcare structures and poor service provision amongst the reasons to refuse repatriation. Other explanations that frequently recurred during the interviews were concerns about the lack of democracy, human rights and civil liberties in Angola.

Conclusion

The case of Angolan refugees in South Africa showed that few individuals accepted voluntary repatriation while the large majority opted to remain in South Africa. The presence of family and other social links, the length of time spent in exile and the possibility of accessing civil, social and economic rights in South Africa have determined a low interest in repatriation amongst former Angolan refugees. The majority of respondents lived in South Africa for an average period of eighteen years and were successfully integrated. More than 50% of those interviewed were married, with 25% of them either married to or living with a South African spouse.

Those former Angolan refugees who considered to return were influenced by a complexity of factors which entailed a cost-benefit analysis of socio-economic and political conditions in both the country of origin and asylum. For some Angolans the information acquired through personal networks, media, international organisations and government institutions was insufficient to make a final decision and, therefore, ‘go-and-see’ visits to Angola were spontaneously taken to assess whether conditions at home were conducive for return. The research shows that visiting the country of origin and investigating current socio-political conditions play a fundamental role in the refugee decision-making processes. Visiting the country of origin also served to validate information acquired in South Africa through the media, relatives and friends.

In conclusion, Carciotto’s article underlined that policies which facilitate alternatives to traditional voluntary repatriation could serve as a desirable alternative to voluntary repatriation. Such alternatives could increase transnational mobility, encourage temporary forms of return and offer the possibility to access permanent residence and naturalization in the former country of asylum.

European States who host refugees for a long period of time, or African States who host refugees in protracted refugee situations should be encouraged to consider a range of durable solutions, including local integration, rather than just voluntary repatriation as a lesson learned from the Angolan cessation.

See the infographic below, Click on image to download the PDF:

This summarised article was written by a Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town Volunteer Amber Ditz

References and related links
“We need … to say to people that this is a temporary residential status and we expect that, once there is peace in Syria again, once IS has been defeated in Iraq, that you go back to your home country with the knowledge that you have gained,”

Cape Town Press Release Special Permits Issued to Angolan Former Refugees

Press Release: Special Permits issued to Angolan former refugees

PRESS RELEASE:

A MIXTURE OF RELIEF AND FEAR AS ANGOLAN FORMER REFUGEES ARE ISSUED NEW PERMITS

Angolan former refugees, who have been living in South Africa for decades, are being issued
Angolan Special Permits (ASP) by the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) following years of
precarious legality in the country. Whilst we welcome and celebrate the issuance of ASPs, we share
the concerns of these former refugees around their futures – the ASPs expire in 2021 and are nonrenewable.

Fleeing in the late 1990s, Angolans were some of the first refugees in post-apartheid South Africa. In 2013, they were the first refugees in South Africa to have had their status ceased. Upon this cessation, ‘Angolan Cessation Permits’ (ACP) were issued. These permits expired in 2015, upon which the
Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town (SCCT) entered into negotiations with DHA to consider permanent
residency for the group. This resulted in a Court Order issued by the Western Cape High Court, in
which ACP permit holders were asked to provide the Minister of Home Affairs with documentation
proving their socio-economic integration into South Africa and outlining their reasons for wanting to
remain permanently in the country. The applications were made in terms of Section 31(2)(b) of the
Immigration Act, and included police clearance certificates, bank statements, employment contracts
and support letters. On 15 February 2017, the SCCT handed in 160 lever-arch files to DHA,
documenting the lives of 1,757 Angolan applicants. In July 2017, the Minister of Home Affairs issued
a decision to grant rights of permanent residency to the majority of Angolan applicants. DHA is now
beginning to issue these applicants with ASPs.

There are four conditions attached to the ASP. The holder has the right to work and study. However,
the holder cannot apply for permanent residency, the permit is not extendable or renewable and the
conditions of the permit cannot be changed. Each ASP expires at the end of 2021.

The SCCT welcomes the granting of work and study rights, and is thankful that that ASP holders can
now access bank accounts, and other rights afforded to citizens (except for voting and establishing a
political party). We are relieved by DHA’s decision to document this small, integrated and
economically active group. However, the fact that ASPs expire in 2021 creates great uncertainty
regarding the future of this group of people, who have integrated economically and socially over the
last twenty years in South Africa. Indeed, data analysis of ASP applicants shows a high rate of
economic activity (91% of adult applicants were employed) and entrepreneurship (19% of applicants
run their own businesses in South Africa). A quarter of these applicants have South African partners,
whilst 21% have both South African partners and South African children. This level of socio-economic
integration displayed in these applications likely contributed to DHA’s positive decision.

We hope that the DHA will consider extension of the permits in 2018 or granting of permanency as a
more durable solution for this specific group of former refugees.

Background to Cessation

Read more about the background to Cessation here.

About Scalabrini

Perceiving migration as an opportunity, the SCCT is committed to alleviating poverty and promoting
development in the Western Cape while fostering integration between migrants, refugees and South
Africans. We provide specialised services including advocacy, welfare, employment assistance and
outreach programmes. Read more at www.scalabrini.org.za.

Contact

For queries please contact Charlotte Manicom, Assistant Advocacy Officer, on lotte@scalabrini.org.za
or Miranda Madikane, Director, on mmadikane@scalabrini.org.za or 021 465 6433.

END

Cape Town ACP Applicants who need new VFS appointment

ACP applicants who need new VFS appointment

This information is only for those ACP clients who did NOT go to their VFS appointment.
THE DEADLINE TO APPLY AT VFS OFFICES FOR YOUR ASP PERMIT IS 15 DECEMBER 2017.

If your question is not answered below, please email us on acp@scalabrini.org.za

I have not been to a VFS appointment. What do I do?

VFS will SMS you to make you a new VFS appointment. If, after 16 November 2017, you still have not received an SMS regarding VFS, please contact Scalabrini urgently on 021 465 6433 or email acp@scalabrini.org.za.

How do I fill out the online form?
VFS have made a special section of their website (click here) for ACP applicants. On this site, you will see that there is a form and a checklist to fill out.
Print both these documents. Fill out the application form and bring this with you to the VFS appointment.
Use the checklist to make sure that you have all the required documents with you.

What do I need to bring to the VFS appointment?
The VFS checklist also lists what is needed at your VFS appointment.

1. The completed VFS form.

2. Your original Angolan passport with the original ACP permit inside.

3. A photocopy of the photo-page of your Angolan passport and a photocopy of your ACP permit.

4. Employment/study documents:
– If you are employed: you must bring a sworn affidavit from your employer confirming your employment. This should be a letter that is signed, recently dated and containing the company contact details. This letter must be certified true by a Commissioner of Oaths (this can be signed at a police station, bank, post office). Alternatively, you can hand in a contract of employment, so long as it is valid.
– If you are self-employed: you must bring your business registration with CPIC, or SARS registration of business. If you do not have these, you must bring a completed affidavit, please click here to download this affidavit.
– If you are studying: you must bring an updated, current letter from your school, university or college confirming that you are currently studying.
– If you are retired: you must bring proof of retirement or proof of income that is earned as a retired person, or an affidavit that states how you support yourself as a retired person.
– If you are not studying or working: you must bring a completed affidavit, explaining your situation and why you are not working, and how you intend to support yourself.

5. Your Scalabrini yellow receipt. This receipt was given to you when you made application to residency. It has a case number in the top right hand corner.

6. If your police clearance certificate arrived late (after your permanent residency application was given to Home Affairs on 15 February 2015), you must bring your police clearance certificate to your VFS appointment. If you handed in your police clearance certificate with your permanent residency application, you do not need to bring a police clearance certificate.

7. If you have applied for a new Angolan passport (if your former Angolan passport is near expiry, expired or lost), you must also bring your new Angolan passport or proof of application to a new Angolan passport.

Please remember, if you do not hand in these documents, your residency permit might not be issued. It is very important that you bring all these documents to the VFS appointment.

Where will the VFS appointment take place?
If you live in Cape Town: when VFS SMSes you, you will be given a time and date to come to Scalabrini. The VFS company will set up an office at Scalabrini Hall.
If you live in Johannesburg, Durban or Pretoria: when VFS SMSes you, you will be given an appointment to go to the VFS office in that city.

My police clearance certificate arrived after my residency application was handed in to Home Affairs. What must I do?
If your police clearance certificate arrived after the application was given to Home Affairs on 15 February 2017, you must make an appointment with VFS (as explained above) and you must bring your police clearance certificate to the VFS appointment with you.

I have a criminal record. What do I do?
VFS will SMS you to make an appointment with them. You must still accept an appointment with VFS, as explained above. Once you have been to the VFS appointment, Home Affairs will consider your application taking into account the specific facts of your situation. VFS will call you or send you an sms once Home Affairs has made a decision on your application.

I have a new Angolan passport. What do I do?
When you go to the VFS appointment, you must bring the Angolan passport that has the ACP permit inside, and photocopies of the photo page and the ACP permit. You must also bring your new Angolan passport.

I have lost my passport. What do I do?
When you go to the VFS appointment, you must bring a copy of the Angolan passport that had the ACP permit inside. You must also bring a copy of the ACP permit itself. You must also bring your new Angolan passport, or proof of application for the new passport.

I have a new cell phone number. What must I do?
Please give the new cell number to reception at Scalabrini by calling 021 465 6433.

These permits will expire in four years from date of issue. What will happen then?
These applications to permanent residency were ‘exemption’ applications. Under this section of the immigration law, the Minister of Home Affairs has a right to grant the rights of permanent residency for any time period. In this case she decided to grant the rights of permanent residency a period of four years.
If you are issued this residency permit, you can make applications to another type of visa if you wish (for example, a spousal visa or a work visa, among others). A year before expiry, you could apply for another exemption or consider the other visa options that may be made available to you at that time.

ACP Press Release

HOME AFFAIRS GRANTS RESIDENCY TO MAJORITY OF ANGOLAN FORMER REFUGEES

In an historic decision, the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has granted rights equivalent to permanent residency to the majority of applications that were submitted on ‘special grounds’ by a group of Angolan former refugees. These applications were the applicants’ last attempt to remain in South Africa – a country where they have spent, on average, the last 20 years of their lives. ‘All parties involved have worked very hard on this case. We welcome DHA’s decision to grant these applicants rights of residency, especially in our national context where increasing numbers of migrants are falling into undocumented states. We look forward to engaging further with DHA about this as we are anxious that these applicants will face uncertainty again in 2021’ says Miranda Madikane, director of the Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town (SCCT). “The work of the Scalabrini Centre has been made possible in part by a grant of R900 000-00 from the National Lotteries Commission (NLC)”.

A total of 1,702 applications were considered by DHA. Aside from those with criminal records or with police clearance certificates pending, applicants were granted a ‘blanket’ exemption, providing them with permanent residency for a period of four years. The Minister of Home Affairs granted permanent residency to 1,227 applicants (72% of applications considered), subject to them providing biometrics, photographs and, in some cases, further documentation. Permanent residency applications from those with criminal records will be decided on at a later date on a case-by-case basis. Applicants now hold those rights associated with permanent residency, which are effectively all the rights, privileges, duties and obligations of a citizen, save for voting and establishing a political party. However, it is not clear what will happen after this four-year period. The SCCT would like to seek clarification from DHA as to why only four years of residency has been granted and would be grateful for a response as soon as possible.

Background

Following years of legal negotiations between SCCT and DHA, the Minister of Home Affairs agreed to consider and determine applications for permanent residence for all Angolans who, upon the revocation of their refugee statuses in 2013, were issued temporary Angolan Cessation Permits (ACP). These permits expired in 2015. It became clear that these permits could not be renewed, leaving this group of former refugees undocumented after forging deep links with South Africa. Indeed, Angolan refugees were some of the first to seek refuge in democratic South Africa, and have proven that they have integrated deeply within the country. Many had children in South Africa who – now in their early twenties – have never set foot on Angolan soil. Read more about the background to Cessation here.

The recent legal negotiations regarding ACP permit holders led to an agreement, as set out in a Court Order issued by the Western Cape High Court. ACP permit holders were asked to provide the Minister of Home Affairs with documentation proving their socio-economic integration into South Africa and outlining their reasons for wanting to remain permanently in the country. The applications, made in terms of Section 31(2)(b) of the Immigration Act, and included police clearance certificates, bank statements, employment contracts and support letters. On 15 February 2017, SCCT handed in 160 lever-arch files to DHA, documenting the lives of 1,757 Angolan applicants.

According to the data analysis of 1,691 permanent residency applications, SCCT found a high rate of economic activity: 91% of adult applicants were employed. The applicants also proved to be entrepreneurial: 19% of applicants hold their own businesses in South Africa. A quarter of these applicants have South African partners, whilst 21% had South African partners and South African children. This level of socio-economic integration displayed in these applications likely contributed to DHA’s positive decision.

Since the submission of these applications, Angolan former refugees have anxiously awaited the outcome of their permanent residency applications. ‘I have handed in everything that DHA asked for. The feeling of waiting for such a profound response is terrifying’ says Yana Almeida, one of the 1,757 Angolan applicants. Yana was born in Angola and came to South Africa as a six-year old. Yana, now 25 years old, studied digital marketing and intends to establish her own business in Cape Town. ‘I want to remain in South Africa because I have effectively lived my whole life here and have become accustomed to the culture here,’ explains Yana. She will now be able to remain here for another four years.

Cape town angolan permanent residency permits submitted without police clearance certificates

Angolan permanent residency applications submitted without police clearance certificates

All ACP permanent residency applications were handed in by Scalabrini Centre, to the Department of Home Affairs, on 15 February 2017. If your police clearance certificate arrived after 15 February 2017, this update applies to you.

Cape Town angolan permanent residency permits court order

Scalabrini submits 1737 Angolan permanent residence applications

Angolan Cessation: The Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town submits 1,757 permanent residency applications to the Department of Home Affairs

Cape Town the angolan cessation

Angolan Cessation Press Release

Statement issued on behalf of Non-Profit organisation, the Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town to
former Angolan Refugees still living in South Africa on expired Angolan Cessation Permits – a small
window is now open for these Angolans to attempt to regularise his or her stay by submitting an
application for permanent residency as detailed here.

Cape Town Guidelines to exemption applications

Angolan Permanent Residence Applications – Guidelines to exemption applications

Angolans with Angolan Cessation Permits wishing to make a Permanent Residence application may do so. Find the guidelines and an application here.

Cape Town angolan permanent residency permits court order

Angolan Permanent Residence Applications – Court Order

Angolans with Angolan Cessation Permits wishing to make a Permanent Residence application may do so. Download the documentation here.