Who can apply for the Angolan Exemption Permit?
- Angolans who were issued with the Angolan Cessation Permit (ACP) but did not apply for the Angolan Special permit (ASP).
- Angolans who were issued with the Angolan Special permit (ASP).
- 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?
- Angolan passport valid for more than 12 months on date of application.
- Proof of Refugee/Asylum Seeker Permit issued before 31 August 2013
- 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.